Working from home can be a tricky balance to strike. Be sure you’re getting the best of both worlds when you work from home by checking out these tips.
Over 5.82 million Americans and counting are doing business from their abodes, and it’s not hard to see why. Today’s technology and interconnectivity have made working from home easier than ever before. The good news? You can work from anywhere at any time! The bad news, of course, is that you can work from anywhere at any time.
That freedom can lead to some major time management difficulties, and may end up leaving you overworked, stressed and worst of all, no time to enjoy the rest of life. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to make working from home work for you.
Here are four work from home tips, complete with input from fellow business owners, to help you keep your work under control:
1. Get ready in the morning
Although waking up and getting dressed may not be your favorite activity (looking at you, fellow night owls), getting off to a good start is going to set the tone for how productive your day will be. Avoid the trap of waking up, rolling over and thinking you’ll respond to one or two emails before you grab breakfast. Because when it comes to work, one thing tends to lead to another, and it can be hard to break the flow. Start down this path and before you know it, lunch time has passed, your to-do list is longer than you’d like and you still haven’t showered.
Instead, approach the beginning of your day like you have an office job to commute to. Put on an outfit you look good in, eat a relaxing, healthy breakfast as @nimaolfati suggested, and whatever you do, leave work out of it. If you’re just getting started with working from home, you can even hop into your car and take a short drive to get your brain in gear. Chris Hamlett, owner of Green Planet Golf Balls, even suggests driving to the next town over to get coffee to make the morning “commute” more concrete.
Bonus tip: Think of waking up like starting your car. If you started your car three or four times before you drove to work, your starter would be out in no time. Likewise, waking up is a process that takes a lot of energy, so don’t let multiple attempts deplete all of your morning reserves. Try to wake up only once.
2. Set regular hours and stick to them
One the biggest perks of working from home is that you don’t necessarily have to stick to that 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. corporate schedule. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to commit to any kind of schedule at all. People are still creatures of habit, and when it comes to getting the most done, we benefit from having set times to work and set times to relax. Otherwise, if unchecked, one or the other tends to take over. So as our Facebook fan Taylor Hennings suggested, get your schedule-making on.
Here are some additional tips when it comes to setting your schedule:
- Build your schedule around yourself: Kids? Then work during school hours. Tend to stay up late? Then start your day at 10:00 a.m. Aim to build a schedule that really works for you.
- Let others know what hours you’re in business: That way, they’ll know when they can get in contact without impeding on your personal life.
- Don’t go back to work when your time is up: As hard as it can be to start working, it can be even harder to stop. If you get a brilliant idea, don’t go back to work. Just save it for later.
- Give yourself breaks: Just like you take little breaks at the office, allow yourself some regroup time. @vicki_charron suggests standing up every so often for a quick break, maybe even taking a brisk walk on a treadmill.
3. Physically separate work from home
When working from home, it can be very tempting to do your work wherever you happen to be, whether kitchen table, couch or bed. Instead, fight that temptation and set up some separate space to be your home office. It doesn’t have to be a whole room necessarily, or even a large space. For example, @Super_Six_Two suggests simply having a separate work desk from your home desk. What it does need, though, is to feel like and provide all the things a workspace would. That means having all your resources in easy reach, having some degree of privacy and, as clear cloud VOICE suggested, turning off the TV.
Also be sure to make this work and home separation clear to anyone who may be in your work space during your business hours. Set boundaries for your roommates, your kids, your pets and whoever else is home so they can further enforce that separation of work life and home life.
If it’s particularly difficult to get into the work mindset, feel free to leave the house in search of greener work pastures. Whether it’s a local library or coffee shop, moving to a place where other people are hard at work alongside you can help get your mind in the right place.
4. Make time for people
One of the less-than-glorious aspects of working from home is the possibility of feeling isolated. Often times, working from home is a very individual endeavor, and it can be quite the adjustment from someone used to occasional water cooler chatter. Not only does loneliness feel crummy, but it’s actually proven to reduce productivity as well. So combat this by actively making time to talk to others, whether they’re friends, family or fellow business owners.
Here are some tips on staying social when working from home:
- Schedule lunch meetings: Meet a coworker or someone you’re working with over lunch somewhere. Not only will you be getting out, but you’ll have some social interaction too.
- Utilize social sites: Find like-minded entrepreneurs and workers-from-home at sites like Meetup.com.
- Take a course: Find something you’re interested in and get to learning with some classmates. Also consider attending a conference, teaching your own course, or even giving a talk.
- Chat with people via IM: Unlike a phone call, which ends the second one of the people hang up, chats can be kept open and responded to throughout the day. This can mimic the kind of casual interaction you’d have at the office.
Working from home can be very rewarding with the right balance of work and home life. By maintaining your schedule and staying disciplined, you can get the best of both worlds. (Plus, help the environment while you’re at it.) And, as always, if you have any other tips, feel free to share them in the box below and help out your fellow workers-from-home.
-Gracelyn Tan, Volusion