Top five tips for working from home successfully
When I tell people I have my own work from home business they think that I live the life of riley. They think that it must be great fun – up late, working in your PJ’s and able to get a coffee break whenever you like. Well on the face of it I guess that sounds like utopia for people who have to fight through the traffic jams to be a desk jockey all day (I did that for 15 gruelling years). However, being your own boss does come with some draw backs:
- Isolation and loneliness
- No one to bounce ideas off/brainstorm with so you become stale and lack creativity
- You’re in danger of never stopping work as you don’t have to go home at 5.30pm
- There is no boss to report to or motivate/crack the whip on you so you need to be self motivated 24/7 which is exhausting
- There can be no routine to your working day so your other routines like going for a run, a walk or to the gym, or meeting friends for lunch etc all slip away
These are all issues Scott and I have had to deal with since we started working from home. We have had to come up with our own solutions to make working for home work for us.
Here are our top five tips to make working from home a success for you:
- Get a dedicated office or work space – keep all work related items and paperwork in this area and don’t let stock/laptops etc leak out into your living space. When you leave your work space close the door on it – just like closing the door in a real world job so you know you have left for the day.
- Get set working hours – on this one do as I say not as I do as I am banging away on the keyboard at 9.05pm. Setting work hours is critical to ensuring productivity and a good work/life balance. If you’re working to a deadline then you know you have to focus and deliver, if not work has a funny habit of expanding to fill time. Strict (ish) working hours also allows you to plan family and leisure time giving you chance to unwind, get some social interaction and keep fit. A benefit of working from home is you pick those working hours- I work from 1pm till 10pm normally so I can go to the gym every morning to clear my head.
- Get up and get dressed – Some days I do laze in my PJ’s till afternoon but those are the days very little work gets done. Why? Because I am not in the mood to work – I am in my lounging gear. Seriously do you think Richard Branson runs Virgin in his night clothes – no he likes to get dressed, ok in bad jumpers but he still gets dressed. Getting dressed, hair brushed, teeth cleaned and spruced up makes you feel good and ready for the world and a good days work – would you go into the real world office in your PJ’s? No so just don’t do it at home.
- Get networking – One of the things I struggled with most being self employed was having no one to talk ideas over with or gain inspiration and advice from. It felt like I was working in a vacuum with no idea if I was getting anything right. Networking groups and business clubs are great places to meet entrepreneurs and business owners. At these events people are eager to hear about your experiences and can empathis with issues you may face. They will also ask for your thoughts and advice and are willing to give you support and help in return. Better still people can get work and make sales through these groups as they are designed to encourage the self employed to support each other by working together. Two wonderful business groups we netowrk with are Business Networks International and The Chambers of Commerce. Look in your Golden Pages for a local group.
- Get out when the going gets tough – If you can’t seem to finish off that draft newsletter or your blog article is rather rubbish then get away from it all for a while. Yes, that’s right your work, get your coat on and take a walk to the local cafe. It’s better to go drink a cup of tea and read the newspaper and return to your work later refreshed and with ideas than hammer your head on the desk and get nowhere. Seriously you decided to be your own boss and getting up from your desk and leaving the office to eat chocolate cake and chill out is your prerogative now. I can go to the local cafe and end up selling some Scentsy, read an article that inspires a blog or just relax and stare out of the window. But that brief respite, and being able to just get up and leave my work, reminds me that no matter what the challenges we face being self employed i wouldnt give up the freedom i now have. So i guess i really do have the life of riley.
I hope these tips help you if you are starting to work from home or struggling to make the adjustment in to self employment.