Never having to face traffic on the way to work appeals to most people at some point. Many of them also find that working at home would be something they would love doing, and today, it’s easier than ever to even run a business from home.
But, as with many things in life, it’s both advantages and disadvantages that play a key part in whether this will work in your favor.
There are challenges unique to working from a home office and setting up ground rules from the start will help you balance it out.
Stick with a Schedule or Routine
One of the biggest challenges home business owners face are various distractions around the house. That’s why it is important to have a well-planned schedule and set goals about when you will finish certain projects.
Writing a priority list of tasks and allotting time for each one is a good place to start. A strategy is to break down bigger tasks into smaller ones, to divide them into steps. By doing so, a big project becomes an easy task, as you only have to follow the steps to get it done.
Set Boundaries for a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Setting boundaries keeps you from being pulled in too many different directions with no control over your schedule. It is crucial that you set rules for yourself, so you can get the work done and still have time to enjoy your personal life.
Determine a quitting time each day – the time when you stop taking calls and answering emails. It’s just too easy to fall into the trap of being at your client’s beck and call 24/7 otherwise. Even though you want to peek at your work email, just so you know what’s happening, don’t do that unless you want to get pushed into working on your off hours.
Dress for Success without the Suit
As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day long, there are reasons why this is not a good idea. If you have your pajamas, it is harder to take your work seriously. Many entrepreneurs find they need structure in their day to do their best. Showering and dressing in business casual make a difference in your attitude towards work, which will improve your productivity and efficiency.
Organize Your Workspace
A messy desk is often a sign of lack of organization, and it can draw your attention away from doing actual work. You might want to wash those three mugs that are judging you from the corner of the desk, or you might want to go through that stack of papers sitting right next to you to remind yourself what those are all about.
To be efficient, make sure you organize your workstation. Being organized in your own workspace means spending less time hunting down the important documents, contacts or tools you need when you need them.
The location of your workspace also plays a role. If possible, a dedicated office room with a door you can shut is ideal. If that’s not an option, then any room out of the main traffic flow of the house will do. It’s important that you can concentrate without hearing the TV or your family members talk, or your pets trying to get some cuddles while you are in the middle of a voice meeting.
At a minimum, you will need a desk and some filing space in one corner of the room, but this depends on the home business you are running. Some business ventures will require much more space. Having an established workspace will also provide natural boundaries that will separate work time and family time. As soon as you finish up and exit it, you can relax.
Separate your Work and Home PC
There are plenty of reasons to use a different PC for business, or at least keep your work and leisure data separate. Security and self-discipline represent two of the most important reasons why you should use different devices or accounts, particularly if other family members might use your computer.
If you have games installed on your personal account, it is too easy to indulge during a break, which might end up in losing not minutes, but hours. Being pinged every few minutes with messages on social networks is also a distraction you don’t need.
Establish Work Rules with Family Members
Anyone who plans on working at home will have to set firm rules with family members or risk having to deal with chaos and interruptions throughout the day. Set the tone and make everyone understand that during certain hours you will be busy at work and they shouldn’t disturb unless it is an absolute emergency. Having set hours and a closed door will help.
Your friends might also need boundaries to follow. Many remote workers and home-based business owners report that because they work from home, friends often feel like they aren’t working—that it’s easier to drop work and go for a drink in the middle of the day. Even though this is partially true, you will have to make up for the time you spent out of work.
Letting them know you have set work hours and aren’t available during these times will limit the number of misunderstandings.
Take Breaks and Get Some Fresh Air
Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take much-needed breaks. In a corporate office environment, you have only limited control over work breaks. Sometimes, you need to attend quick meetings, and other times co-workers will stop by to chit-chat.
When running a business from home, you will not have to deal with so many breaks, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them. The wonderful thing about working from home is how easy it is to take a break and sit on the back deck for a short while to clear your head. Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks.
We all perform better when we take necessary time away from the heat of the battle. Then, when it is time to return to work, you are re-energized and can refocus on the rest of the work you have for the day.
Working from home can be a smart and economical choice for many business owners who have the self-discipline and skills to make it work or are just getting started and are launching their first business venture. At first, it will be a big change. As the person most affected by this change, it will be up to you to establish the ground rules to make it work.
The good news is there are shining examples of many people working from home very satisfied. Just remember there will be an adjustment period.
With some patience, working from home can be a win-win for everyone involved.