Working from home isn’t for everyone. To be successful, you must be disciplined, motivated, and — above all else — a self-starter. It’s been relatively easy for me, because I’m motivated by the reality that my success or failure rests directly on my shoulders. If you think working from home doesn’t have it’s own hassles and pitfalls, think again. However, I won’t deny that working from home has its perks — like never having to commute. I can do what I want, when I want, how I want (most of the time).
Here’s how to get the most out of working from home:
1. Start each day like you’re going to work. That means taking a shower, getting dressed and having breakfast. Setting professional standards will put you in a productive mindset.
2. Set up your office. It is crucial that you create a dedicated space to work in that is comfortable, private and exposed to as few distractions as possible. This space is yours, so make it personal! You’re going to be spending a lot of time there. You should have all your tools, like your computer, phone and printer, in one place. Setting up your office also means setting up boundaries with the people (and even pets) you share your home with. Set up rules so that everyone understands when you are available and when you are not.
3. Begin your day 30 minutes earlier than you plan to start working. This time should be used in two ways: To create a plan for the day and to peruse social media. Every morning, I make a list of the things I need to achieve that day. Checking off items makes you feel productive and accomplished, and will motivate you to stay on task.
I also check email and social media, just to see what happened over night. It’s fun, and it prevents me from wasting too much time during the day. I also check those sites during my lunch break and at the end of the day. After all, there’s no boss looking over your shoulder — so you must police yourself.
4. Think about when you do your best work, and plan accordingly. Althoug I’d rather sleep in, I get more done if I get up. I begin with the most difficult and unpleasant tasks to get them out of the way. We all have tasks we’re not wild about, whether we’re working for ourselves or someone else. In the afternoon, I do things I enjoy, such as creative tasks.
5. Make a strict schedule, and stick to it. The knowledge that you can work whenever will tempt you, but in the long run, you will be much more productive if you follow the schedule you set for yourself. In my experience, this means keeping the same hours every day. Your hours should correspond with others in your industry.
6. Stay connected. Working from home can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Turn on Skype and get in the habit of using it. It doesn’t take much effort to check in with the people you work with, and your relationships will benefit from it.
7. Make sure to “close the door” at the end of the day. This can be very hard to do. It’s easy to keep working long after the hours you’ve set for yourself have passed. Your office is as easily accessible on the weekend as it is during the week. Shutting the door and distracting yourself with other activities such as time with family or hobbies, can insure you take time off from your work.
8. Get the best office chair you can.
A good office chair can be expensive, but they are worth their weight in gold over the long haul. You spend hours each day sitting in the chair at the desk, and getting a good chair is crucial.
Your business will suffer, actually, if all you do is focus obsessively on it. Take short breaks throughout the day and make a point of getting out of the house on the weekends.
Working from home can be extremely rewarding. No sitting in traffic. No more office politics. The freedom to live wherever. But there are distractions, and it can be lonely. If you focus on creating structure, you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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