For many people, the thought of cutting the daily commute from 30 minutes to zero minutes is quite tempting. And if you’re a freelancer or run your own new business on a small budget, it’ll likely prove to be the best starting point.
Now that everything is connected thanks to the Internet, you really can do it all from home. First step? Create a professional website that wows. Second step? Stay on task and keep focus. This second part can be tricky as working from home comes with a long list of distractions.
Here are the 7 rules you need to stick to if you really want to get stuff done from your home office:
Keep Strict Hours
The first mistake you can make is to start shifting your work hours around. Since you’ll be at home, it might seem okay to say "I’ll get to that project right after I do a load of laundry" but you’ll be mistaken. Just because you’re working from the homestead doesn’t mean the rest of the world is, and if you want to be in sync with your peers and target audience, you’ll want to adapt hours that mimic theirs so you don’t miss out on opportunities.
Brief Your Housemates
If you live alone, you can skip this step. But, for the majority of people who share their home with roommates and/or family, you’ll do well to inform them of your work hours and requests. If you don’t set some boundaries, you can find your workplace quickly become a hangout or even a playground for the little ones. Just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you’re free to hang or babysit.
Set Up a Space That Works
This step is crucial. If you work from home and don’t have a set space for your work alone, things can quickly get overwhelming and disorganized. Not only is it a great way to keep all of your materials in one place, it’s an important step in order to enter the “I’m at work now,” mindset. Even if you don’t have a separate office in your home, you can still create a designated desk space within your living room, bedroom or even laundry room – get creative, and find a space that will help you be your most productive.
Of course… when setting up your space be careful not to make it too comfortable. Keeping a ‘real’ work environment means that you shouldn’t choose your couch as your office. Not only will your back pay the price, but your productivity will, too.
Create an Atmosphere that Inspires
One of the best parts of running things from your home? You can literally set it up any way that suits you. Turn the AC way up, or keep it nice and toasty. If you prefer to work in bright lights, go for it. Work better with music in the background? Go for it! And, if you find you do your best work with a bit of white noise? There’s an answer for that, too. Hipstersound is a free site that replicates the familiar sounds of cafes and bistros.
Stay Far Away From Temptation
At an office building, you don’t have the option to watch the 6th season of Game of Thrones. However, at home all leisure activities are right at your fingertips, and there’s nothing really stopping you from playing Candy Crush for about 30 minutes too long. Use your time wisely so you can “clock out” at a regular hour. We promise that Candy Crush will be there once you’ve finished (and you’ll enjoy it more.)
Plan Your Days
When you’re your own boss, you don’t have to take orders from someone else. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give yourself structure, and take that structure seriously. While everyone works differently, it’s always a good idea to break down your daily tasks, hour by hour, week by week. Keeping a clear calendar will help you meet deadlines and keep stress minimized. And don’t think a task is too small to add to the list – even "send an email to client XYZ about project ABC" warrants a place in your daily task list. While you’re scheduling things, don’t forget to make time for a good lunch and even some time to clear your head. You can depend on tools like Trello, Google Tasks and more to get you on top of things. And, if your business offers a service, you can add Bookings function to your website so your clients can book time with you (and you can avoid being interrupted.)
Find a "Second Home"
Sometimes, changing things up can make all the difference. For a lot of people working from home, it can be energizing to work one day out of the week from a place that isn’t your home. Bringing your laptop to a cafe or coworking space once in a while can help you break the routine, and also give you a chance to interact with other humans (something that might seem desirable after a while.) Best of all, it can help you do some networking, possibly bringing you new business. Who knows, right?
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