Tips for working from home
Isabelle de Grandpre offers some advice for those working from home - how to stay motivated, organised and professional...
As a work-at-home business owner, I can tell you that there are loads of benefits to having your office close by. For example, you can go to work without make-up and wear whatever you want to ward off the cold of winter.
You can manage everything that needs to be done at home and you get to save money on lunch because you just grab something from the kitchen. The biggest upside is that when your kids are sick or on holiday, it makes life a lot less complicated.
Now, if you’re considering working at home (or you already do), it may help matters to set some ground rules. These will make you a lot more productive.
Have a routine
Avoid not getting dressed and becoming a sloth of note purely because people aren’t around you. Have a purpose and set deadlines and tasks as if you were in an office. Remember to factor in some ‘down-time’ too, just as you would in an office BUT don’t allow yourself to become distracted.
Factor in personal activities, remembering to schedule them into your day
This is probably the one thing that work-at-homers struggle with the most. It is so easy to fix that leaking tap and have friends over during the day because after all, you are at home. These ‘private’ activities wouldn’t be acceptable in a corporate environment, so if they have to happen, make sure it fits your day’s purpose.
Equip your office properly
If you need a printer that does everything, then get one of those. In the long run, it will save you money and time. Be mindful of keeping stationery stock as well, so that you don’t have to run out and purchase these all the time. Don't forget to keep your receipts - many business-related expenses are tax deductible, so you'll want those receipts when you do your income tax return.
Network and remain in contact with like-minded individuals
Feeling isolated can quickly become a problem when working from home. There isn’t anyone to join you for a quick coffee. You can’t bounce ideas off people and you start to doubt your worth. In order to combat this, consider joining networking groups, work from a local coffee shop once a week or go to the gym every morning before you start work.
All that being said however, for me, working from home is difficult. Although I am a very organised person, I can tell you that it takes a lot of work to be that way. I have the attention span of a microbe and am easily distracted by noise and constant movement around me.
I like quiet when I work and I can go for a stretch of eight hours very happily if you let me. Needless to say, for me, the kids' holidays are a nightmare and as much as I try to remain calm and not get rattled by their nagging and fighting, it is very difficult. I start to suffer from serious sense-of-humour failure and look forward to sleep purely because it brings silence!
With this in mind, the following tips are of vital importance for me as a work-at-homer:
Define your space and make space
If you're working, you shouldn't have to plough through toys to get to your stapler! Obviously this is harder to accomplish when you don’t have a dedicated room for work, but if you need a spatial expert to help you, then invest in one.
Set boundaries early on and reinforce them
Make sure that everyone in your home environment knows that they only disturb you if they really have to. If you have young children, perhaps you can create colour-coded signage for the door: RED is do not disturb, ORANGE is disturb only if you have to, and GREEN means you may enter.
When all is said and done however, there has to be a flip side to my work-at-home chaos and it's the fact that I have post-it stickers all over with messages from my kids and I can have coffee in my beautiful garden during my downtime!
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