If you work from home it’s easy to goof off, get distracted, and find your to-do list became a to-didn’t. With great freedom comes great responsibility.
I’ve worked from home since 2003. There are a lot of perks working from home
- I can start a load of laundry at 10 am during second breakfast
- I can grill chicken for lunch
- I can schedule service people to stop by any day at any time and not have to worry about sitting around for three hours waiting for the cable guy to show up.
Here are seven ways to make sure you work when working from home.
1. Schedule regular office hours
Working 4 hours today, 10 hours tomorrow, and 5 hours the day after, doesn’t work well. You need predictable, regular hours to plan and run your business. Hours should be scheduled around the same times as your customers, suppliers, business partners, and other key contacts.
Creating and sticking to a schedule helps to get into work mode and stay on task throughout the day. Put your schedule in writing.
Commit to your schedule. Start each day on time. End on time.
Keep interruptions to a minimum. You may have to work late one night finishing a customer proposal. Family activities come up, or maybe a child is sick who needs your care and attention. Life happens; however, don’t let disruptions become the norm.
2. Dress For Success
There is no dress code when you work from home. Slippers, pajamas, and a robe may feel comfy while working at your desk; however, you haven’t separated work life from personal life. I don’t propose sitting at the home office desk in a suit and tie. Way too much! Wearing office clothes puts you in the right frame of mind to do business. Wearing business casual in the home office can inspire creativity.
Start your day with shower to feel refreshed, eat a good breakfast, brush the teeth, and dressing in appropriate work clothing will put you in the mind to conduct business and be productive.
Set aside some clothes as “work clothes only.” When these clothes are put on, even at home, the message to you is, “it’s time to get to work!”
Dress to be productive and get results.
3. Dress Your Desk For Success
A messy, cluttered desk becomes a storage area rather than a workspace. As the clutter grows, you waste valuable time searching for papers and supplies.
Your effectiveness is affected by how you feel about a chaotic desk.
- How do you feel about working at a messy desk?
- If each day you could walk in and see a clean, clear and organized desk, how would you feel?
Your desk should permit you to process, store and get to anything you want, quickly and easily. Your desk’s purpose is to help you produce. The condition of your desk restricts or enhances your ability to do your work effectively and efficiently.
Mess means stress, clean means calm.
4. Design your space
It’s crucial. Slice out a dedicated space for your work use only. Have a door so that you can separate your work life from your home life. When your workday is over, close the door to represent work is done for the day.
Choose a room with a window that lets in natural light.
If you’re looking to write that home office off as a tax deduction, it needs to be a separate area and exclusively used as a work space.
Balance your total workspace for productivity AND comfort.
5. Ramp Up Your Communications
Working from home requires stable, reliable, and fast communications. If using a cell phone as your primary or only phone, assure strong signal strength in your home office.
Check your calling plan.
Does it meet the volume of calls and text messages you’ll be handling each month? Overages can be expensive. Go to an unlimited minutes and messaging plan if you’re volume fluctuates widely from month to month.
Know and understand ALL the costs in your data plan. Don’t get hit with a whopping bill from your provider because you didn’t make time to understand your plan and its limits.
Your internet connection is your link to the outside world when working from home. This connection should be fast and reliable. For downloads, 5–10mbps (megabits per second) is a good range. Faster is better. If you work online frequently, get the most speed your budget can afford. The time savings will be worth it.
Occasionally, you may lose your internet connection. Your internet service provider (ISP) could be down. At some point, this will happen.
What is your backup plan? Options could be public wi-fi hotspots such as Starbucks, McDonalds, or Panera bread. Going to a friend’s or family member’s home are other possibilities. Know your alternative internet connection options.
Have a backup option for internet connectivity. You’ll need it one day.
6. Take and enjoy breaks
Everyone needs regular breaks. If you think you’re superman or superwoman, don’t kid yourself. You need breaks too. Working continuously for several hours is less productive than taking an occasional break every couple of hours. Regular breaks give the eyes some needed rest and relaxes the total body.
At break time, get up and move around. Stretch, walk or do both. Step outside for fresh air and sunshine. At lunch break, eat a decent meal, but don’t overdo it. Avoid the post-lunch food coma.
Feel free to go out to lunch with friends or family. This can be a perk when working from home. If you enjoy fitness, at midday go to the gym for a brisk workout. You’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon workload.
Use breaks to recharge your body, give the brain a rest, and refresh your thoughts.
7. Build and maintain contacts
Working from home can be lonely and isolating if you allow it. Don’t be a hermit. Make an effort to build your network of contacts and maintain other ongoing business relationships. Networking leads to stronger contacts and friendships that can help in every aspect of your work.
- Use virtual tools like LinkedIn
- Join professional groups in the area and participate at industry-related events.
Network daily. Form new relationships.