Working from home can be tough, but setting a few ground rules for yourself will do wonders for your productivity (and sanity).
From personal grooming to meetings with clients, knowing when to disconnect, to asking for help when needed, here are my top tips for being successful working from home:
1. Designate a Work Station
It’s really important that you have a designated place to work from, ideally one that you can close the door on. This will help your mind to focus when you need to work and also help with outside noise and distractions.
If you don’t have the luxury of having a separate room to work from, then try to find a corner in the living or dining room and keep your computer there. Don’t work all over the house. Not only is it unproductive and untidy, but you’ll have no way of separating your personal and professional life.
2. Have a Life Outside the House
Working from home means spending a lot of time at home and inside closed doors. While it might sound great at first, you’ll soon start to feel cabin fever setting in if you don’t make sure you have a decent amount of activities after work.
Try dining out some evenings, working out at a gym, or visiting friends and family. Even just going outside and seeing the world, doing your grocery shopping or taking a bus can be enough to reset your batteries and connect physically with the outside world.
3. Set Yourself Limits
There is a huge misconception about the idea that working from home is somehow an easy ride. The amount of friends I’ve had say to me: "Ah you’re working from home, why don’t I come round and we can go and get a manicure/have a cup of coffee/go for a run?"
Um, because I’m working, that’s why. Working from home isn’t about slacking off or putting your feet up and watching the TV. On the contrary, I often find that I work many more hours than I would do in an ordinary office; power through lunch, and find myself always available “after hours”.
Don’t be like me. Set limits for yourself and shut down the computer at a certain time each day. Leave your workspace and get away from anything that beeps or swooshes.
4. But Make Sure That You Work
It may seem fairly obvious, but working from home means exactly that; not just being at home. Whether you’re self-employed or work for a company, the results will soon speak for themselves.
While you may not be being physically watched, people will notice how productive you are and if you’re actually hitting targets. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s an easy ride.
Related Article: Remote vs. In-Office Workers: Which Employee Is Actually Better?
5. Delegate or Outsource if You Need To
When you hit the stage that you can’t physically get any more work done without putting in 16 hours a day at the computer, it’s time to outsource. Not only will your eyes, back and brain benefit from the break from screen time, but your business will thank you too.
Inject some fresh ideas and hire some online help. Even if it’s just to take care of a few admin things, or get a different perspective.
6. Have a Shower When You Wake Up
I’m totally guilty of this as is anyone who’s worked from home. But whether it’s because you want to spend more hours on the computer or just because you know that no one can see you sitting there in your PJs, don’t let your personal grooming slip.
It’s not good for your self-esteem, it reflects in your work and your partner won’t like it. This is business, remember? And you wouldn’t go to the office with straggly hair.
Related Article: 5 Ways To Make Work From Home Options That Work For Your Business
7. Be Professional
Your set up might not be ideal. In fact, it may be far from ideal. You may have kids or pets in the background, construction work, or a shaky Internet connection, but don’t let your standards of professionalism slip just because you’re working from home.
If you know you have a telephone meeting with a client, make sure you go somewhere quiet. If your Internet provider isn’t reliable, think about getting a second connection.
It may not be relevant to the client whether you work from your bedroom or a swanky Wall Street office, but clients are far more likely to hire someone they can hear clearly on the phone and who sounds focused and goal oriented, than someone who keeps apologizing about the noise of a baby in the background.