Many people in start-ups or small businesses begin by working from home. The growth in online businesses like ours, Tickle and Delight, means it is often unnecessary to have a physical office space. This is great when it comes to keeping overheads and costs low as not having to rent a workplace is a huge saving. However working from home has its downside too. Here are my top tips to stay sane whilst working from home.
Just because you work from home does not mean it is acceptable to stay dressed in your PJs all day long. Treat each working day as if you were actually leaving the house to go to a regular job. Would you turn up in your PJs? Get up, shower, get dressed, make yourself look presentable and start your day ready for anything. Just think, you could be called to take a video call or attend a meeting and there you are looking like you’ve just got out of bed. Not a very professional look. Getting up and dressed properly will also help to keep you motivated when working from home.
Working from home can easily de-motivate and distract you if you’re not careful. Planning your day/week/month will help to keep you on track to complete your tasks and avoid distractions and down times. As the weather gets colder it becomes easier to get up that little bit later or perhaps put things off till tomorrow. With a structured plan in place for how you manage your day it will be far easier to stick to the plan and stay motivated and proactive each and every day.
You are not alone. Just because you may only see the inside of your own home for the majority of each day does not mean you should feel isolated. There are many people also working from home all around you. Get to know them and include them in your week. A quick phone call or coffee could spark a new idea or process that you could use in your own business. You could even group up one day a month to work together – not on the same things, but in the same space. Sometimes it is nice to simply have other people around you. Just be sure to pick people who won’t distract you from getting your To-Do List done.
When we work for ourselves we often do more than if we were employed by someone else. We have something to prove and certainly a lot more to gain, as well as no one else being around to get it done. However this doesn’t mean we can’t take a break every once in a while. Stop for lunch or morning tea or both if you can. Taking half an hour out here or there is not going to stop your business from growing. In fact its most likely to do the opposite. Taking a short break will give you the opportunity to relax, renew our energy and come back with fresh eyes. Something that is much more likely to keep us and our business moving forward.
Not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated office or study to work from when they first start working from home. This shouldn’t matter as long as you have a dedicated space. Whether you are using the dining table or a nook in your stairwell as long as you have everything you need to hand and feel focused in the space you are in you are more likely to get things done. If it is a shared space – i.e. kitchen/dining/living room areas, using a mobile office will really help you to stay neat and tidy as well as on track for peak performance. Get yourself a large box or storage tub – something on wheels is often good as can be easily moved out of sight when required. Keep all the items you need to work with in the box. Take them out at the start of the day to set up your office and then return them when your working day comes to a close, ready to go again the following day. Think of it as a kind of hot desk!
Just because you are working from home does not mean you are necessarily ‘at home’. Work time and home time must be kept separate in order to stay focused. Set your business hours and try to keep work related tasks within these times. General home duties like paying bills, grocery shopping etc are not work related and therefore need to be kept outside of working hours. Use your lunch break or coffee break to get them done. Having said that, it is perfectly acceptable to answer the door to the Woolworths online delivery guy during work time!
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean it has to take over your entire life. You are still allowed to have fun, enjoy yourself, and relax too. You may well need to schedule this time into your calendar, if like me you have the tendency to become a complete workaholic, just to ensure it actually happens. Make arrangements, have social engagements, use your evenings and weekends to get away from the ‘office’ and out into the real world so you can remember why you are even doing this in the first place. You may even become more inspired …
What top tips do you have to stay sane when working from home?