Working from home may seem like the ideal way to combine family life with work life. But is it really so easy to keep your cool in between the four walls of your home?
Whether you are running your own business and saving on bills, or embracing flexi-time, working from home is becoming a reality for more and more people across the globe.
Here is how to make the most of working from home — including how to best configure your office space and schedule. Nail these, and you will find yourself feeling a lot calmer and relaxed.
Be intentional about it
Everything good starts with a plan or a strategy. Hardly anyone just stumbles upon the perfect routine or way to work (or if they did, they are very lucky). Recognize the potential challenges you will face working from home with an open mind and prepare yourself mentally for the changes up ahead.
Be intentional about your working from home project. A mind map or a journal can help you prepare for the impending lifestyle change effectively. Visualizing problems is always a good way to find better solutions to them.
Be clear on how you are going to make a success of things, and ensure that you have all the right puzzle pieces to hand before you dive in. The longer you have to adjust, the better your body and mind will take the change to your routine.
Get the space right
Working from home is all about finding balance between work and ‘play’. You don’t want ‘play’ items distracting you in the office, or the office to follow you into the kitchen. This is where setting yourself up with the right physical space can help you find the correct mental space as well.
- Clear boundaries and divisions are essential — you need a quiet workspace (ideally an office) to give you that sense of structure. Don’t let it become a dumping ground for junk and keep it tidy
- Your workstation should be optimized — awkward working and typing positions can lead to all sorts of health problems like carpal tunnel syndrome
- Natural light, a soothing decor, and neutral colors will help make your office feel more peaceful. When stress levels start to rise, it’s important that you have an environment that makes you feel zen again. A few personal touches here and there will give you some emotional resilience as well.
Working from home doesn’t mean working 24/7, so leave that mobile behind when you go and get yourself a cup of coffee or answer the door. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being always ‘switched on’, but you won’t be doing yourself any favors with that attitude.
On the flipside, don’t get lazy. It’s easy to lose focus and discipline without the social pressure of the office. Be clear on how many hours of focused work you need, and stop working when you know that you’re not achieving much. It’s best to have a break and wait for your focus to return.
Food and drink are important for a healthy work atmosphere, so try to focus on eating well and staying hydrated throughout the day. Don’t eat at your desk!
Social interactions are important for overall health, both mental and emotional. Make sure that you don’t become a hermit, and plan for regular meetings outside of your home office, or invite people round to visit you at home. They are a great way to structure your work week, so try to space them out so that you’re having regular contact.
Social interactions will also keep your negotiation and business skills sharp — wallowing by yourself all the time will only dull your people skills. And don’t fall into the trap of only meeting with clients — you want to have meetings that develop and inspire you, not just stress you out.
One of the keys to a great career is making the most of the time that you do have, rather than wishing that you had more (or were somewhere else). For home workers, this means taking the most efficient routes possible and cutting down on unproductive down time. It’s easy to get sucked into watching TV or playing with your pets, but you have to be disciplined about how you operate when you’re working at home.
There are many ways that you can run a more efficient business from home, including:
- Are you running to the post office with orders every day or getting mixed up with shipping orders? What about trialing dropshipping as a way to earn (easier) money at home?
- Automate simple admin and marketing tasks using services like IFTT and hire a virtual assistant to help you manage your time better. A guaranteed way to decrease stress levels
- Add structure to your communications by setting up expectations and boundaries so that clients know when they can get hold of you, and when they can’t. It will help you feel more in control, and you’ll know when you can expect to have some time off.
- Get out the house every now and then to keep your brain stimulated and refreshed.
Working from home is mega-rewarding, but it can be tough on the mind and soul too. Interact with people and be intentional about your work in order to introduce structure into your days.
About the Author
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how entrepreneurs can develop their businesses. She is passionate about using her experience to help fellow entrepreneurs do better.