Some of us chose to work from home, while others have found this to be the new, hopefully, temporary normal. A couple of years ago, I wrote this before COVID-19 caused a lot of people to start working from home. These same tips will work for entrepreneurs and corporate folks.
The New American Dream - owning your own business and working from home. No boss is micro-managing your every move, no corporate meetings, and all the vacation time a person could want... Wake up!! You're dreaming!
Working from home is still work, and freedom can sometimes turn into your worst enemy.
As E.B. White says:
"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."
Here are a few tips that will help you create the discipline you need to work from home successfully:
Create a routine: Set your alarm, shower, get dressed every day– just like you would if you had to report to an office. When I first started working from home, I would schedule 7:30 am networking events to get my day started. Routine broke my snooze button habit.
Set office hours and keep them. Office hours aren't only for you but also your family and friends. Traditional hours need not apply - but respect the hours you set and get your work done.
Create a designated work area. My first home office was in my bedroom... oh the humble beginnings. I remember the excitement of going to Ikea to pick out my desk and file cabinets – it barely fit in my room. I got up every morning, made the bed, and then commuted to the desk – 3 steps. With the mobility of laptops, consider a mobile cart if you need files and such at your fingertips.
Avoid temptation!! Cleaning, laundry, movies, video games, the refrigerator, and the list goes on. This might require discipline at the beginning – say to yourself, "If I were in an office, would I be able to do this?"
Get a designated phone number just for work. Google Voice provides a free number and allows the calls to be sent to your existing number. How is your voicemail? Take the time to leave a professional message.
Do you need to use live video chat? Do you have the proper equipment, and what does your background look like? Working from home does not equal unprofessional. Video chat with a friend – get feedback on sound, lighting, and background your audience will see.
Forecast, forecast, forecast!! Family is coming in next week to visit – Yay, a much-deserved break!! But wait... I have proposals to deliver, copy to send to the printers, and articles to write. How are you going to get this all done? Forecasting will help you adjust your workload, accomplish everything, and still have fun!
What's your best working from home tip?
More tips to come.