I am fortunate to be able to work at home. It has a lot of perks, my favorite being my 30-second commute to work. There is a sense of empowerment and freedom in being able to work in my own home office, primarily because I can control the environment in which I work. Note that what works for me may not work for you, we’re all different. Not everyone is cut out for this glamorous life of pajama parties. The kitchen, the television, the house that needs cleaned, the recipes you could be creating, the errands you could run, the friends that drop by, the lunch dates, all can be incredibly persuasive distractions if you have no boss breathing down your neck to get things done. Personally, I thrive working from home — as a matter of fact, I put in more hours at home than most people do at their “real jobs”. (Another thing that annoys me, as I frequently get referred to as “not having a ‘real’ job”) I am quite productive for some days, a 12 hour stretch, without even leaving my chair, and in fact, knowing when and how to “leave” work or “shut down” and relax is my biggest downfall. So here are some tips:
1: Love Your Office!
This sounds so elementary, but it’s crucial. As a designer, I couldn’t wait to design my new office when we built our new house. Light fixtures, paint for the walls, art work, you name it, I thought it all out. I even painted my own magnetic chalk board on the wall. You can’t work effectively if your “office” is the kitchen table or a desk in the corner of your bedroom. You need a room designated just for you and your work. Approach your work-from-home office professionally. Make it a quiet workspace, with ergonomic seating, proper office tools good software, computer equipment, and good lighting. Your office doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, but does need to be comfortable for long work hours.
2: Let Your Body Move To The Music!
NO TV! You’re in control here. My music is set to automatically mute when my phone rings, so clients can’t hear it. Music personally makes me more productive. I listen to a lot of Spa and Feng Shui type music while I work, which keeps me in a peaceful state of mind. Figure out what works for you. You might work better to Metallica, but again, you’re in control of the tunes!
3: Keep Set Hours!
I am not productive in the mornings. I’m just not, never have been and don’t pretend to be. To most peoples standards, I sleep in late. I get up at the same time everyday, but it’s usually around 8:30 and I am in front of my computer by 9am. I am horrible about taking breaks and most of my breakfast and lunch meals are eaten at my desk, which is what NOT to do. I think this is incredibly important. Take breaks, and take a normal lunch like people with “real jobs” take. Also, I work well into late evening hours, which after the first of the year I am determined to try and break. Close of business is when I need to punch out and close my office door.
4: Talk To Real Humans!
Spending the whole day in front of a computer where you only talk to people via Facebook, Twitter, IM, Phone, and Email is not real social interaction. It’s good to get out and take a break, or actually shower, dress and go see a client from time to time or hit that networking event you keep meaning to get to. You do need to keep your social skills up since you’re not surrounded by co-workers to keep up on them. A serious hazard for home workers is isolating yourself, but that comes along with the territory. Ideas come from many different places, but they mainly come from interacting with real live people.
5: Dress To Impress For The 30 Second Commute?
Not me. Even showering is optional. Most “experts” say that you should dress professionally so your mindset is right, I disagree. Part of my perks on getting to work from home, is my comfort level. As I sit writing this article I’m still in my Victoria’s Secret flannel PJs. I’m super comfortable which makes me more productive in my mind. If I wanted to get all dressed up and do my hair and make up to look socially acceptable, I’d get a “real job”. My computer screen doesn’t care what I look like, and video chatting with clients will never be an option in this office. 🙂
Let me know what works for you if you are among the lucky ones like me who get to work from home!