Working from home whilst sounding idyllic can in fact be somewhat daunting! When I made the decision to embark on my new “career” albeit part-time, I was somewhat alarmed by how much time I actually had – and was then faced with the reality of not really knowing how to work from home.
I was aware of the potential benefits – after all these were the reasons I said yes to the opportunity I had embarked on…
Just to whet your appetite:
Freedom to choose my hours, ability to create the much talked about “work/life balance”, able to juggle kid commitments i.e. get to assemblies, sports events etc. be my own boss, earn on my terms.
All that sounds fabulous but what I found was that working from home takes an incredible amount of self discipline, it means setting firm goals, it means keeping a diary (not my favoured way to run the day), it means not succumbing to distractions — “No I’m not free for coffee, I’m working”!
So for those of you thinking about it or doing it badly here are my top tips for improving your effectiveness. These have helped me but I am open to other ideas – let me know what works for you!
- Create a space that says “work” – I hate a messy office, it gives me a sense of overwhelm and that puts me on the backfoot. So having moved into my new home recently I had the perfect opportunity to de-clutter, empty files, shred 20 year old documents, improve my filing system and minimalise unnecessary and unwanted accessories! Now I start each day fresh, in a clean well organised space – no excuses.
- Plan your workload/tasks the night before: For me this is imperative otherwise I can be slow to get off the ground, and valuable time is “wasted” preparing my day. I list in my diary the people I need to call, meetings to attend, follow up emails to deal with etc. I have found this is a great way to review my productivity as I tick off each item as the day progresses. Things not achieved can then be rolled over to the following days schedule (note “not achieved” bears no relationship to distractions – well ok sometimes!!).
- Which brings me to the very real issues of Distractions: whether it’s a friend calling for a chat, a coffee invitation, the urge to see what everyone else is up to on FB — be careful not to fall into the trap, and realise time has flown and you haven’t stuck to your intentions or achieved your goals! When I’ve done this myself I then beat myself up at the end of the day – I hate time wasting… so much to get done.
- Take advantage of “downtime”: working from home can be a bit isolating, depending on your chosen path. I tend to slot in “reward” time; “me” time. This may mean going for a walk or to the gym – nothing better to motivate yourself to keep going, or to have you feeling ready and raring to go again when you’ve indulged in something you enjoy – after all we are in this for more life balance and isn’t fitness or mind space an important part of that – I think so.
- Set meal times: There is a real potential to gain weight if working from home – too much sitting (potentially) but much more likely is the “I wonder what’s in the fridge/pantry”. The risk is you either make multiple visits or save yourself the trip and take the packet/barrel of your favourite treat and eat the lot – one nibble at a time – remember when you studied – food was a real distraction! Check out this easy reading article here that talks more on this topic: www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/jun/18/exercise-healthy-work-home-business
- Mix it up! I love the opportunity that working from home affords me, in that I get to choose my location – today it’s my home office but some days I might choose to go down to the beach – I love that sense of freedom. I am lucky enough that I can continue business wherever there is Wi-Fi and being the beach lover that I am this is where you are likely to find me. I feel uplifted, more motivated and it puts me in the space of being able to connect with passers-by – and since connecting with people is an inherent part of my business it’s a win-win!
Feel free to share your top tips – I’d love to hear from you.