Working from home can seem like a dream come true: you can work in your pajamas, your commute is nonexistent, there’s no negotiating with officemates over room temperature, and you get to choose your office decor. However with these upsides, there can be drawbacks, which make you less productive and successful than you may have hoped. There are endless distractions to pull you away from your business duties and leave you with squandered time. Mitigate these potential problems by setting yourself up to win with our seven practical work from home tips.
Create a designated work space
To successfully work from home, you need a designated work space. It should be made up of more than your kitchen table and reserved exclusively for working. The ideal space has natural light and a door since no one likes working in a box with harsh lighting, and the door provides a physical barrier from your home life and vice versa. When your office door is closed at the end of the day, let that signal that you’re off duty and work will resume tomorrow.
We love these examples of home offices, which show you don’t need a lot of square footage to build an inviting workspace.
image via Carla Aston
image via Home Edit
image via Matrama Designs
image via HGTV
Bonus: if you have a dedicated, separate work space in your home, you’ll be eligible for a tax deduction!
Make sure you have everything you need
The essential items will naturally come to mind as you build your office: desk, comfortable chair, white boards, printer, writing instruments, and extension cords, but the little things you often take for granted in a larger office are now up to you. Stock up on print cartridges, printing paper, note pads, file folders, software programs, and the list goes on and on. Whatever items allow you to work at your optimum capacity, make sure they’re part of your home office.
Being without these little things can end up derailing hours of your day when a client proposal is due, you’re out of ink, and you spend the morning sourcing Amazon’s same day delivery or calling around to your local Staples for a fresh print cartridge. It seems simple enough, but when you’re responsible for all administrative duties on top of running your business, these small things can fall through the cracks. Be proactive and inventory your supplies so you’re never without your office staples.
Set a routine
Working from home can seem luxurious and wonderful, and then you find yourself at 3pm having accomplished hardly anything. Setting boundaries will help you manage your time more efficiently. By delineating your day, starting with your office hours, it forces you to be accountable and aligns with your work style. For example, since you no longer have a commute, how will you spend that portion of your morning and evening? Maybe that time is best spent going through your emails and responding to the most critical issues. By your normal start time for work, you’ll have a clear inbox and can dive into your other priorities.
In lieu of your evening commute, consider writing out your To Do list for the following day. Download everything that needs to happen the next day and prioritize them. Again, this positions you to hit the ground running the following day and puts your mind at ease so you can transition into home mode once you call it a day.
Avoid midday personal errands or household duties
When you work in your home, it can be tempting to start a load of laundry or tidy up throughout the day. It feels like you’re killing two birds with one stone and being super productive, but it’s actually a huge distraction. When you get into your office for the day, commit yourself to your business. If you need to run a business errand, do so, but the laundry can wait. Bouncing between your home and work responsibilities takes a toll on your focus and you’ll find that it takes longer to get back to your business once you’ve started dabbling in your home life.
Give yourself a break and get out of the house
It’s not uncommon for those who work from home to get lost in time and realize they haven’t moved in five hours. Simply because you’re working in your house doesn’t mean you have to be producing every single minute you’re on the clock. Schedule breaks to eat lunch away from your desk or take a walk outside. Everyone needs a change of scenery at least once a day, so add these breaks into your calendar so you don’t forget them. Getting out of the house also affords some time for personal interaction, which can be limited if you’re running a business of one or working remotely. Mental breaks are necessary and building them into your routine is an essential part of working from home.
Monitor Your Work
Hold yourself accountable by setting up deadlines and assess your progress at the end of each week. It’s an honest evaluation of what you accomplished over the week and what is outstanding. Working from home has many distractions and can impede people’s productivity. By keeping yourself in check, you’re more likely to meet your deadlines and maintain your typical level of work output.
Take Care of Yourself
This should go without saying, but make yourself a priority. As an entrepreneur, working 24/7 appears to be the norm, but you need a break from work. It allows you to recharge and come back with a clear head and fresh ideas. Shut down and make time for the other things in life that you care about.
Schedule free time on your calendar so you have the space to meet friends for dinner, attend your child’s recital, or take a fitness class. Do the things that make you feel like a whole person, not just a workhorse. Finding the right balance between work and home life will take time, but without any physical or mental breaks from work, your burn out point will come much sooner than you could have imagined. Investing in yourself is as important as the investments you make in your business and to your career.
Do you currently work from home? If so, share your best practices as we’d love to hear them!
About the Author: Julie Chomiak is the Content Marketing Specialist for Webs and Pagemodo. When she’s not scouring the web for small business trends, Julie loves traveling, interior design, and animals of all kinds. Get more from Julie on the Webs Blog and the Pagemodo blog.