Working from home is not a new phenomenon, many a home business have paved the pathway for others over the years. However since the internet became available on a global scale in the mid 1990s and with continual technology advances, working from home has never been easier. Along with technological advances though comes the expectation that we are continually connected and available to work around the clock, be it our own small business or working remotely for your employer. Here are my top five tips for working from home to stay focused, energised, and happy.
1. Establish hours of trade and/or contact
If you work in an environment away from home, as soon as you switch on your computer, clock on, or whatever it is to determine you are ‘in’, you are available for business. The same can be said at the end of the work day and clocking off et cetera, but in modern times this isn’t always so easy. What happens though if you work from home? Does that mean your clients/customers/patients can contact you around the clock because you are ‘at home’? No, it does not.
Setting yourself hours of trade and/or contact will provide your customers/clients with boundaries. They may still try to contact you outside of your established hours, but this does not mean you must respond to them instantly. You have other responsibilities in life – family, home, extra-curricular activities, YOURSELF – that need to take precedence outside of business hours. Make sure that your trading/contact hours are readily available to your customers/clients, and that you enforce them. This principle also applies to people who work remotely from home for an employer.
2. Ensure you have a dedicated work space
In a place of employment outside of the home, you typically have your own work space: a desk, a register, a stock room, a laboratory, a machine, a vehicle, and so on and so forth. Working from home should be no different.
If you have the space, set up an office in a study/spare room. Having an office area separate from your living areas will allow you to close the door at the end of your work day and enter again the following morning.
If you are limited for space, arrange your existing furniture to incorporate an area that will allow you to have a small workspace. You may find you need to downsize some furniture, or buy a smaller desk, but having a dedicated workspace will help to keep your focus and keep to business hours.
Make your workspace inviting – put up inspiring quotes and/or images, decorate with your favourite flowers or ornaments, play music in the background. Whatever it is that makes your space feel more comfortable, inviting, and conducive to productivity, do it.
Need some home work space inspiration? Check out my Business: Home Offices Pinterest board.
3. Make yourself a daily to do list and a weekly schedule
Keeping on top of your tasks can be difficult without a proper plan. Write yourself a weekly schedule at the end of each business week. Include time for business administration tasks such as correspondence, financials, and planning, networking – events and online, product or service design and development, marketing, and anything else that you need to do on a regular basis for your business/job.
On top of your weekly schedule, write a list of things you need to accomplish each day. Try and do this before you finish up for the day so you can hit the ground running the next day.
A bonus of working from home is achieving work/life balance, and sometimes that has to happen in the middle of the work day. Don’t forget to allow time for the unexpected too: sometimes you need to head to the shop to get remaining/all of the ingredients for dinner (going in the middle of the day is often better than going after work when everyone else is finished), or popping on that load of washing, or an unexpected meeting.
4. Have lunch (and snack) breaks
It might sound silly when you work from hom, but having a scheduled lunch break really helps me to stay focused. If you were in a workplace that wasn’t at home, you would have morning and afternoon tea breaks, as well as a lunch break. When you work from home it’s easy to fall into the trap of making yourself food, but then going and eating at your desk. Take time out for yourself: eat lunch in the sunshine or watching a show. Whether it’s a half hour break or an hour, having that time to yourself without the hassle of thinking about work will do you the world of good. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon’s work with gusto.
5. Do something you love
Let’s face it: if you don’t love it, you’re not going to give it the focus and energy it needs, and it’s going to drain you of your focus and energy. This goes for any job – whether it’s your own business or if you work for an employer.
I started Little Goldfish back in 2011 while I was still studying but it is only since late 2015 that I have really been able to give it my all and nurture it to what I want it to be. I’m still a long way from being successful, but I do not find it a drag to wake up Monday to Friday and give it my all. Finally I am happy with what I do, I love waking up and being creative, be it writing or designing new invitations or party goods.
Do you work from home? What kind of work do you do? How do you stay focused and motivated?