Whether you work from home full time, occasionally work from home or are planning to, here’s my top twelve tips for making it productive as well as fun…
• Firstly – find a suitable spot for your ‘office’ and ensure you stay in that place. Avoid setting up your business in your bedroom or front room. Both of these places are where you relax and the last thing you want to be doing is waking up to see your pile of work. I would add something else – don’t carry your laptop round with you and set up in different places all over your house. You need to remain in the same place – under the stairs if space is tight. The point is you are in the same place for work, are not scattering everything all over the house and can get up and leave it just as you would any office.
• Ensure your office is a great place to be – even if your office is just a desk in the hallway. A comfy chair and fresh flowers will help. And a radio, CD player or TV nattering in the background can keep you company as you work.
• Don’t use your home number as your office number. Whether you work all the time from home or just occasionally, either use a dedicated mobile or have an ‘office’ line installed. That way when the phone rings you know it is work.
• Match your working hours to your natural body clock. Ignore advice that says you must keep office hours to keep motivated. The whole point about working from home is it allows you to work when you want to. So it might be working later into the evening is right for you – or you might be more productive getting up at the crack of dawn and finishing earlier.
• Invest in an excellent, reliable Smartphone – one you can get emails on, calls, texts, the internet, Twitter and Facebook. That way you can always have your office with you.
• Don’t feel you must take a break. One piece of advice often given is unplugging the phone so you have proper breaks from work and so on. For some people this is the best and only way to relax. However, if you work from home and you feel happier having your mobile with you – with all the emails and texts coming in 24 hours then that’s fine – some people feel more relaxed knowing they are always contactable and aren’t missing an important call.
• If you only want people contacting you at certain times, say so. For example, on emails put ‘I work Mondays and Wednesdays only’ and leave that information on answerphones too. Remember to stick to it though to get colleagues in the habit of not disturbing you on days off.
• Work intensely for shorter periods. You can often get more done working from home than in an office. In an office there are constant distractions – other people, meetings, tea breaks and so on. But at home you can crack on and get things done quicker. So it’s possible to produce the same amount of work in a shorter time.
• A little procrastination can be good for you. And I don’t believe home distractions are a problem when you’re working. I’ve had some great ideas when I’m folding the laundry! And surfing the net – even if it does involve a little daydreaming – rests your brain and can even inspirational.
• Enjoy quieter times. However busy you are there will be less busy times. Instead of fretting about being quiet, make the most of it by doing all those things you haven’t had time for – such as invoices, updating your website, filing – there are millions of little things to attend to especially if you have your own business.
• Get out and about. If you’re having a bad day, go for a run or out for a coffee with a friend. A change of scenery will make you realise there is a world outside your home office world. And make the most of not being stuck in an office on sunny days – take a cup of tea outside and enjoy a sunburst in between phone calls.
• Enjoy your own company. Some people find they need to have a group of friends in a similar situation to talk to when they’re working from home. However, to be successful you must accept working at home means you won’t be party to the office gossip. If you feel lonely remind yourself of all the positives that come with working from home – no commuting to work, flexible hours and if you run your own business, being your own boss, choosing your own holidays, can have your hair done when you want… and you can’t be sacked or made redundant. Then rather than feeling out of it – see it as a blessing. After all, you won’t be getting involved in awkward office politics either.
Alison Smith-Squire is a journalist and media agent who has successfully worked from home for over 20 years.
Have you made working from home a success for you? I would love to hear your tips and see photos of your home office. Contact me here.