Working on your couch in your PJs, getting up whenever you like and getting other things done during the day – these all seem like the perks of working from home. But they can all signal disaster for your work from home experience. The experts agree that having a structured approach to your work schedule is all-important.
Running a home business is the ultimate in taking control of your career, time and life. But if you’ve been working a traditional job for a while, it can be a challenge to make the adjustment from a job to becoming your own boss. You need to create all the external cues that go with working, such as a home office and set schedule. With that said, as long as you get your work done, you can enjoy the freedom and perks that owning a home business offers.
A dedicated workspace
Telecommuters agree that this is essential. Not only does it help separate work from home life, but it also helps you focus and structure your day. We hear of entrepreneurs setting up their businesses from their kitchen table or bedroom, but these are not the best choices. Distractions abound, and it’s easier than you think to allow work to bleed into your personal life and cause problems in your family and relationships.
You ideally want a space with a door so that when the day is done you can close it off and step into your personal space. If that’s not possible use screens or other dividers to create a separate space. Make it comfortable in any season and quiet – it’s great to have an enjoyable and pleasant space to work in.
Have a plan
To-do lists are obviously important in any setting, but even more so when you are working from home. Those who are successful agree that actually planning your time hour-by-hour is even better than a to-do list. Use a time planner or calendar. Online calendars such as Google Calendar are fantastic for this and there are many time management apps such as Asana, Basecamp and Trello. Many people plan a whole week or more at a time and schedule in tasks as they become apparent. At the very least you should plan out your day the evening before so that when you arrive in the morning you can hit the ground running.
Prioritising is key to this process, making sure you are scheduling in the right order and amount of time based on the importance and urgency of the task. Productivity is less about great time management and more about strategic focus.
Remember that things always take longer than you think they will, so while you need to try to overestimate the time per task, you should also try over-commit to how many tasks you’ll get done. Even if you come up short of your goal, you’ll still come out of the day with a solid list of completed tasks.
Try to make an early start – it’s tempting to use the time you would have been travelling to work to sleep late, but rather use the time to make an early start. Getting your first item started early – even before you’ve had breakfast can be the key to making progress on it throughout the day.
This is one of the biggest challenges of working from home – where distractions are much more prevalent than at an office. Children, pets, the fridge, TV and the bed are all potential problems and identifying potential distractions early on is a good way to avoid them.
One of the biggest distractions that telecommuters face is Social Media, and it requires discipline to keep Facebook and Instagram for the end of your workday. Many people take all the Social Media shortcuts off their browsers and even sign out of their accounts to avoid going on to Social Media when they should be working.
Some feel that having the Television on in the background is good for them as they work from home, but many say this distracts them and they would rather have music, preferably instrumental to relax them while they work.
Friends and family often take the fact that you are working from home as permission to expect things from you or just to visit during the day. You need to set boundaries with them and ask that they respect your space during work hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re home.
Many believe that working from home is the way of the future, and with telecommuting on the rise, it’s an opportunity to try to achieve a better work-life balance than life in the corporate world. So, once you’ve got the basics of work-from-home time management right – go ahead and enjoy yourself! Working from home can change your outlook to work and make you more productive simply because you’re enjoying yourself more. Celebrate your independence and enjoy the extra time you get to spend with your family.