I have worked from my home for over 4 years now, and unlike some people, I find it incredibly easy. However, I frequently get asked by people new to self-employment, or by my employed friends who have the opportunity to work from home occasionally, how I do it. So, I decided to give it some thought. If you are struggling to adjust to working from home, maybe following my recipe for success will help.
- Have a dedicated space to work in. I'm lucky, and I have an office, but not everyone does. If you do not have a spare bedroom or space that can be your workspace, then the dining table is probably the next best thing. BUT - don't sit where you normally sit to eat. Choose a different place that is your working place as opposed to your eating and drinking space.
- Set outcomes to achieve by the end of the day. A lot of people say set clear working hours, but I find it better to decide what I'm going to achieve by the end of the day. If I've done it by 3.30, then great, if I need to work until 6.30, then so be it.
- Plan breaks and meals. Allow yourself time to do other things and eat a proper lunch. Grazing at your desk is not healthy. Taking a few breaks helps you to refocus and become more productive.
- Inform people of your movements. When I was employed and working from home, I used to let the office know if was going to be unavailable for 30 minutes. If there are no surprises when you manager tries to contact you, then trust is built up.
- Get dressed for work. I'm not suggesting that you get fully suited and booted, but be presentable! Ladies, do your hair, gents, have a shave. If you stay in your nightwear, how can you be in the right mind to work?
- Plan and prioritise your activities based on your needs and preferences. I have a friend who is not a morning person, so she never starts work before 11, but she frequently spends 2-3 hours working in the evening. If I have domestic issues to deal with, I build them into my day - after all, some of these things are just as important as my 'work' tasks.
- Take exercise. OK, if you work at home from time to time, this may not be important, but if (like me) you are a permanent homeworker, you need to get out and about. Without the daily commute, it is surprising how inactive you become. I often combine my exercise with errands by walking the mile and a half into my local village and back. Getting away from the screen also helps my creative processes!
- Screen your telephone calls. If you don't have caller ID, let the answer machine kick in, and only when people leave a message decide whether or not you will pick up the call. I've avoided many telesales people, and conversations with my mother (who doesn't quite grasp that I'm WORKING at home) that way.
- Turn off Facebook, Twitter etc. When you work at home, these social networks can offer great support, but if you find that they are distracting, turn them off for periods of time. When I'm busy, I tend to allow myself a bit of browsing time at the start, middle and end of the day only, and it really makes a difference to my output.
- Never, EVER under ANY circumstances put the TV on! I can't believe that some people try to 'work from home' sat on the settee with the TV on in the background. The radio is not so bad, as it can just provide background noise, but the TV demands your attention, and you simply cannot work when one eye is on the TV.
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