Working from home is most definitely not for everyone. But, right now, many of us have no choice.
As a small business owner, I personally love working from my home office. No commuting, my schedule is more flexible and I can work in my pj’s if I want. For many, the thought of working in pajamas, not spending hours in traffic and scheduling their own time is a dream come true. However, when the line between home and work gets blurred, things can get a little complicated. Working from home can be more difficult than it seems and it actually requires a lot of discipline to make sure you’re staying at the top of your game.
If you want to be successful while working from home, your home office needs to be comfortable as well as functional. You will undoubtedly spend a lot of time in your home office and, therefore, you’ll want to create an environment that you’ll enjoy. Here are a few tips to help you work from home efficiently:
Treat your home office like a “real” office:
- One of the best ways to maximize working from home is to act “as if” you’re in a “real” office.
- A desk in the family room or at the kitchen table just doesn’t give you the privacy and quiet you need to focus on work. If at all possible, set yourself up in a room where you can shut the door.
Have the right supplies:
- Office supplies should be accessible in one centralized and convenient location.
- A well-supplied office contains: pens, pencils, post-it notes, paper clips, binder clips, a stapler, tape dispenser, file folders, mailing supplies, label maker, rubber bands, etc.
- Keep an inventory of supplies so you know what you have and avoid needlessly buying something you already have.
- You can literally save hundreds of dollars by not having to repurchase already-existing supplies.
Set it up for success: You’ll need:
- Proper Lighting:
- Take advantage of natural lighting if possible.
- However, if you’re someone who prefers to work in the evening, you’ll need good lighting.
- Comfortable Chair: Invest in a comfortable, ergonomic chair. You’ll feel better and your back will thank you.
- Technology: Ensure you have good working hardware and software and that your internet connection is working properly.
- A Desk: It is important that you have an efficient work space.
- If your work is primarily done on a computer and entails very little paper, a small desk will do.
- If you like to spread out with paper reports and reference materials close by, you might need a larger desk.
- If it’s more comfortable for you to stand and work, consider an adjustable or standing desk.
Keep clutter to a minimum: Clutter not only slows you down physically, but mentally as well.
- Declutter your space.
- The best way to maintain an organized desk is to make cleaning it a habit.
- Allocate some time each day to making sure it stays organized.
- Just like the other important tasks you need to complete each day, you’ve got to schedule time to straighten up.
- Before leaving your office, spend a couple of minutes throwing away obvious trash (coffee cups, food containers, random post-it notes, etc.)
- Put supplies like pens and paper clips back where they belong.
Create Structure: Set-up routines that work for you and your unique situation. It will minimize distraction and force you to work efficiently.
- Get up at a normal hour, have breakfast, get dressed, make your coffee and go to your home office.
- Determine your office hours and stick to them.
- Allow for breaks in your day so you can refresh and recharge.
- Check and respond to emails at scheduled times.
- Stay off social media and other personal sites until you have your lunch or “leave” for the day.
- End the day like you would a normal work day and go do what you normally would have done after work (i.e; meet up with a friend, exercise, prepare dinner)
Boundaries: Set clear boundaries!
- Keep your work life separate from your personal life.
- Whether that requires just closing your office door or more drastic measures, be sure you have some systems in place for barring personal distractions while you are at work.
- Getting distracted by your personal to-do list can be one of the biggest obstacles to effectively working from home and your productivity will quickly go down the tubes.
- Likewise, keep your personal life separate from your work life. One of the biggest problems for home-based workers is over-working. It’s easy to go back to the office after hours when the office is in your home. Don’t do it!
- Boundaries while working from home can be especially difficult for people with children. However, setting boundaries and instilling certain habits will help. The sooner you start and the more consistent you are, the better.
- Place a sign on your office door that lets them know whether it’s alright for them to come in or if they shouldn’t disturb you.
- For younger kids, use colors: green for “go” and red for “stop.”