Technology today means that more start up businesses are being run from home and flexible employers are also beginning to take the leap and allow staff to work from home. There is no commute and the quieter work environment may mean more work gets done. However, if you’re working alone from home, you can easily fall into a few bad habits. Normal everyday tasks at home can cause distractions and take you away from your work – just one more load of washing, a quick clean up around garden. On the flip side, it’s all to easy to launch yourself headlong into something and forget to take breaks or work much longer into the evening than you would if an office.
While many people love the idea of working from home, in practice it can be more challenging that it sounds. It’s important that you have a work-from-home strategy in place if you’re going to make the most of your working day. If you find yourself rising at 3pm, working until the early hours in your pyjamas and struggling to get work finished on time, try following the tips below:
- Prepare for a day in the office. Get up at a reasonable hour, shower and have breakfast as you would if you were working out of the home. This will help you wake up gradually and prepare for the day ahead.
- Keep regular hours. There are two main dangers of working from home: not working enough, and working too much. Keeping to set hours will minimise both. There may be days when you have to work a few extra hours to meet a deadline, or when you work less to fit around an event, but try to be as consistent as possible. It’s also important that you’re reachable when your clients need you.
- Plan your day. Keep a detailed list of what you need to get done and when. You may find that you get caught up in emails first thing every morning. If this is the case, try to get urgent tasks out of the way before you start wading through emails.
- Set up a comfortable environment. You will not do your best work if you are perched on the edge of the sofa with your laptop on one knee, your cat on the other, and the telly on in the background. Take time to set up a comfortable office space where your mind is focused and your body is supported. Keep everything you need for your work day close at hand so that you don’t have to keep getting up and down.
- Avoid distractions. Whether it’s spending a little too long on Facebook, doing housework, calling friends or taking naps, find out what drains on your time are in place and try to cut back on them. Try to keep your office door closed and take regular breaks from social media.
- Take regular breaks. Take time away from your desk at regular intervals to stretch your legs and stay hydrated, and take a proper lunchbreak. This will help to refresh your mind and keep you focused in the afternoon. If you’re feeling a bit isolated, invite a friend round for lunch or meet someone nearby for coffee.If you’re feeling lethargic, head out for a walk or to the gym to get your blood pumping.
- Make face-to-face time. Working from home can make you feel a little side-lined, so it’s important that you make time to meet up with colleagues and clients. If you can’t meet in the flesh, use sites like Skype so that you can see the person you are talking to rather than using the phone or email. You can also use networking sites such as LinkedIn to form new relationships with prospective clients and people in similar lines of work.
- Keep paperwork up to date. As well as keeping your day-to-day admin in check, it’s important that you think about other work-related issues such as tax liabilities, retirement savings and insurance. While these may be automatically covered for full-time, office-based employees, you will probably have to take charge yourself if you are freelancing.
Once you get into a routine, you should find that working from home is just as effective, if not more so, than being in the office.