Let’s face it, working from home has its pros and cons. On the one hand, you can save money and time you would otherwise have spent commuting to and fro work; while on the other, you may miss the social side of interacting directly with your workers and customers. You can’t eat your cake and have it… or can you?
In this article, we share with you the winning habits of experts who run their business form their home. These are tested practices that work; see if and how you can put them to use in your own business. They are grouped into 4 categories so you can easily concentrate on the area you need to work more in.
One thing must be said though; working from home has a lot in common with working in a regular “away-from-home” office. You require some discipline to work successfully in both environments. Take dressing for instance; if you work in your pajamas, it will likely reflect in your productivity. You must also be good at managing your time and remaining focused on the job at hand.
Enjoy the article and, as always, exploit its key notions in your own business, in your drive for financial freedom. Here it is…
Working from home sounds like an idyllic situation. In theory: you can roll out of bed each morning (or afternoon, even) and get started on your day without having to dress up, brave traffic or engage in mindless chit-chat around the communal coffee machine. However, not going into an office every day presents its own set of challenges, like determining how to separate your home life from your work and making sure you’re feeling connected to your colleagues and clients, among other things. To help ensure that you’re on the right track while working remotely, we consulted seasoned work-from-home veterans who shared their top tips for staying productive and thriving in their carriers.
1. Tips for… Outfitting Your Office
Whether you have a whole room dedicated to a home office or prefer working from the couch in your living room, having the right setup can keep you productive while on the clock.
- Making sure you have the equipment you need.
“It’s important to invest in the quality of your work-space by getting equipment that helps you do the best work you can. When I transitioned to an at-home employee, I went out and bought a similar version of the computer I was used to working on so that my productivity levels wouldn’t suffer from an inferior, slower setup.” -Brit Casady UT, graphic designer.
- Invest in ways to stay active at home.
“My favorite part of working from home is the fact that I can work on my treadmill desk. I can kill two birds with a stone by exercising while I work. I’ve found that being able to walk helps keep me focused and because of that, I’m able to succumb less to the distractions that come from working at home. I pretty much do any kind of work on my treadmill, from writing post to sending emails to creating social media content and so on.” Brent Hale, Online Entrepreneur.
2. Tip for… Managing Distractions
Let’s face it-distractions run rampant whatever you work, whether it’s in an office with co-workers or in your own kitchen. Keep productivity zappers at bay with these strategies.
- Get organized with the three-minute rule.
“I allow three minutes to tend to anything I feel l need to respond to immediately that is not on my to-do list. Give yourself three minutes every hour to your official ‘work hour’ to scan and respond to important emails, put shoes that accumulate around the doorway in the closet, tec. If it takes no more than three minutes. It put your mind at ease and reduces at-home work distractions without derailing your day. It also helps you spend less time cleaning the house and dealing with administrative tasks when the workday ends.” – Stephanie Taylor, Freelance writer, Yoga instructor.
- Don’t let socializing get in the way of working.
“Notify friends that you do have work hours, even if you are at home. For the longest time, I had friends popping over at all times of the day whenever they were free! Make sure you are assertive and tell them what your hours of work are and that you stick to a no-visit schedule during these times.” – Laura Fredrick, Public Relations Professional.
- Let your kids visit your home office occasionally.
“With a home office and three kids, it’s not easy. My advice? Get a white board. When the door is closed, do not disturb, but if it’s open- and leave it open as much as possible- my kids cans come in and draw on it and leave me little notes. It’s magnetic, so they can put stuff on there for me to display. Everyone is happy.” – Gregory Pavjiv, Music teacher.
- Minimizing online distractions.
“One of my favorite productivity hack come with the help of an app called StayFocued. When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocused helps you avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day;” – Lori Cheek, CEO of Cheekd.com
- Time-delay your email responses to manage expectations.
“I time-delay every single email I send. I have gotten people out of the habit of thinking that they control my workday and that they will get an immediate response. I time-delay up to a full day if I feel it’s necessary. Inbox by Gmail has been critical in helping me maintain my inbox. I love it because I can simply save messages for later, create my own bundles (like per-project of sender) and remind myself to do things. It has been tremendously helpful as far as keeping my mailbox from getting out of hand.” – Ashley Sharie, CEO Aspire Business.
3. Tips for… Connecting with Clients
Checking in with colleagues and customers can be challenging when you don’t see them every day. This is why it’s important to put your best foot forward in all of the interactions you do have.
- Build in prep time for client meetings.
“when you work from home, your schedule can be all over the place-workout classes whenever, meetings at different paces and different times. Plus, I don’t know about you, but if I don’t need to get dressed in professional clothes, I won’t. my calendar helps me in that regard. Each time I schedule a meeting with someone outside of my home, I set alert for 30 minutes or an hour before. This is my ‘Go take a shower and make yourself presentable’ alarm. Without it, I would show up to many meetings looking and feeling frazzled.” – Alden Wicker, Freelance writer.
- Err on the side of over-communication (sometimes).
“We’ve found that most workplace tension is caused by inadequate communication-particularly when you are unable to speak with colleagues in person due to remote work situations. When you are unable to speak to clients or colleagues in person, make sure they know you are on the case by always being crystal clear. Frequent communication with your supervisor and co-workers can help reinforce bonds of friendship and trust, making collaboration easier throughout your time at a company. But when it comes to email. Remember that less Is more: try to communicate you message using as few works as possible to save time for your reader. When crafting a written message, it’s easy to get lost in long blocks of text and drift off on tangents—particularly when you need to explain complicated concept to a co-worker. To keep yourself focused and on-message, consider using bulleted lists to help structure and explain your thinking. The natural segmentation of bullets and ability to indent can help you keep your thoughts logical, organized and succinct.” – Sam Mclntire, founder Deskbright.
- Speak up during conference calls.
“In a remote environment, it’s often easier to sit quietly during conference calls. But it’s really important to go into a conference call with at least a few specific prepared talking points to discuss. It not only shows that you’re prepared, but it also helps to move the conversation forward in a productive way, rather than hemming and hawing while you think of something to talk about.”- Brie Weller, Director of online content at FlexJobs.
4. Tips for … Staying on a Successful Track.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut managing you daily to-dos, but periodically taking a step back to evaluate your overall performance can help make your work-from-home experience a success.
- Give yourself yearly reviews.
“In December or January, I conduct a yearly review. This is partially to reconcile my numbers and partially to see which of the services I offer pay the most on both an hourly and total-money basis.” – Anitra Budd, Freelance writer and editor.
- Block off time for professional development.
“Leave open space in your schedule for planning and networking meetings, as well as time to reflect on what it is working and what is not working – perhaps Friday afternoons or Monday mornings where you block off time in calendar to set up your week and revisit your goals.” – Cara Maksimow, Owner of Maximize Wellness Counseling and Coaching.
- Let your schedule be flexible.
“Know your schedule-your actual schedule, not a clone fo the in-office working mdoel. If you know our home or parenting responsibilities will make working in the morning tough, but you’ll be more than productive by planning your day that way rather than attempting to mix home and work. Be realistic about it so you can build boundaries based on efficiency. The end result is an enormous increase in both your productivity and your sanity!” – Monica Reccoppa, Financial Manager at Cardwelll Beach.
- Write a goal list.
“I have my personal and professional goals written down and posted at my desk. This allows me to see them every day-it’s easy to get caught up in task mode and only focus on checking off items from your to-do list. Having written goals displayed openly forces you to remember the larger reason why you are performing these tasks and track to meeting the goals you set for yourself.” Casey Bond, Editor of studentloanhero.com