I have a home office, and I love the comfort and freedom it affords me, but I am aware of the dangers to my business that working from home brings.
The main danger is that ‘home’ and ‘work’ slowly meld together. It requires discipline not to let the ‘home’ aspect impinge on the work one. Firstly, there are the distractions; couriers, pets, door knockers etc. Then there is the ‘domestic procrastination’ under the guise of ‘helping out around the house’; the load of washing you do, that bathroom you clean which are surely appreciated but could wait. Then there is ‘family’; their day off does not mean that you can have one, but they often expect it.
Working from home can be isolating too. You may go a day without any human interaction, or days without leaving the house and the demons of self-doubt find isolation and loneliness fertile ground to breed.
TO COMBAT THIS, HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I HAVE FOUND TO BE EFFECTIVE OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS:
1. TAKE BREAKS.
Working for other people means there is a rhythm to your days; morning and afternoon tea breaks, a lunch break and regular meetings. Working from home; it is easy not to have lunch or to wolf something down, whilst sitting in front of your PC. The solution is to schedule some ‘me’ time into your day. Whether you:
- Use the Pomodoro technique and have a break every 20 to 30 minutes.
- Work in 90-minute ‘compression session’ style blocks.
- Use alarms for set breaks.
You must take back some time for yourself to get up, to move around, to eat and hydrate. If you do, your productivity will soar.
2. GET OUT OF THE DAMN HOUSE!
It is easy to become hermit-like when you work from home. You focus on a big project and then realise you have not left the house during the week. You must change your environment, even for a short time. So:
- Schedule a coffee catch up with a friend.
- Work from a coffee shop for a day.
- Grocery shop.
- Pay some bills in person.
- Walk your dog or around your yard.
- Gym it a few times a week.
- Have a lunch date with your significant other.
Just get out of the damn house at least every second day, for just half an hour or so. Your brain will thank you, your mood will lift, and your work will be easier.
3. CONTROL DISTRACTIONS.
Research has shown that every time we are interrupted, it can take us up to 25 minutes to get back on track with what we were working on. You must reduce your distractions:
- If you have packages coming (damn you Amazon and eBay!), arrange for a safe drop at your front door or collection from the post office (gets you out of the house!).
- Do your emails in two daily batches only; set an autoresponder to advise this and to request a text message for urgent matters.
- Schedule two times a week to catch up on videos and webinar replays.
- Turn off all notifications from your computer relating to email or social media.
- Put your mobile on vibrate.
- Hold any conversations you have standing up (it makes them shorter and offsets some sitting time).
- Put on headphones, play music that energises and focusses you.
- Tell any of your family at home that you are working; you will see them at lunch.
- If your door is shut (keep it closed), let them know that you would appreciate no interruptions.
4. BE SOCIAL.
Being alone is fine, feeling lonely is not; it is debilitating. Schedule weekly calls with some friends just to chat about whatever; life, the Universe, work, anything.
5. HAVE RITUALS.
A client of mine gets up, dresses in his business attire, drives around the block, returns home, then, goes into his office. At the end of the day, he reverses the process. Another makes coffee in his ‘work’ mug and goes to his home office shutting the door behind him.
Both rituals enable them to ‘flick the switch’ from home to work. What’s your ritual to mentally shift places?
Working from home is glorious, and with some structure and a dash of self-discipline, you can be productive, effective, and successful.
Try these tips and see how much easier working from home becomes.