Working from home can be wonderful. It can also be fraught with hidden traps, such as the proximity of your bed for an afternoon siesta, meaning that before you know it you are Alice sliding down the rabbit hole napping every day!
I have worked exclusively from my home office for the past 18 months. Overall, I prefer it to working in an office environment. However, working from home does take some discipline.
Fortunately, I am a self-confessed control freak and discipline is my middle name! Here are my top five commandments for working from home.
Commandment 1 – Separate your workspace
If you are serious about working from home a separate workspace is a must. Ideally, an exclusive office space is preferable, but it could also be part of a sunroom or your spare room.
Aim to keep your workspace clutter free. With a four-year-old boy in our house toys regularly find their way to my office during the week. However, I take 10 minutes or so each week to de-clutter my office because I function better in a more organised environment. Besides stepping on Lego pieces and matchbox cars is never fun!
Finally, where your arrangements permit, ensure you can shut your office space off from the rest of your home when you are not working. As you are literally living in your workplace it is vital you can ‘leave work’ each day so you’re not tempted to be on duty 24/7.
Commandment 2 – A quality set up is important
You would never accept a job in a place where you were forced to sit on a sub-standard chair at the dining room table, squinting at an old laptop precariously balanced on three phone books. So, why would your home office set up be anything less than you deserve?
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Invest in yourself, whether that be an ergonomic chair or a widescreen desktop computer set up. Don’t think. Just do it.
If you are comfortable and have fast, good quality internet connections you will be more efficient, benefiting you in the long run and providing dividends on initial investment in quality equipment and yourself.
Commandment 3 – Organisation and discipline
Just because you work from home, it doesn’t mean the traditional ‘office rules’ go out the window. Get dressed, get up and be sitting at your desk by a certain time each day. The structure is vital.
To-do lists form a central part of every day for me. It goes a long way to explaining my Kikki-K addition! All jokes aside, I find an ‘old school’ to do list written in pen and paper helps me arrange my goals for the day. My list is broken up into ‘Must Do Today’ and ‘Nice To Do Today’ categories which have the added bonus of helping me take a few minutes each day to prioritise my work.
While working from home helps with your daily flow of mini-tasks such as preparing dinner or putting a load of washing on during the day, it certainly isn’t the time to tackle major jobs around the house. Leave those for the weekend and focus on a dedicated number of work hours each day.
Commandment 4 – Mindfulness
When you work from home without the distraction of co-workers to chat to it can be tempting to work non-stop during the day, especially without the lure of cafes around the corner for lunch. This does not do you or your clients any good.
Ensure you take regular breaks. I love spending time in my backyard with Lulu the poodle, Violet the Cat and Barnaby the baby dachshund. It grounds me, provides some vitamin D and allows me to take some time out. I’m pretty sure the pets love it too!
Whether it be a short walk in the middle of the day or 10 minutes with a hot cup of tea and a magazine, ensure you take some regular time out during the day to stretch and re-connect with the world around you. Mindfulness may be a buzz word at present, but it genuinely is something we all need to strive a little harder for.
Commandment 5 – Get out of the house!
The biggest downside of the working from home/soloist lifestyle is the lack of social contact in a larger office environment. For this reason, it is important that you schedule some social catch ups in your schedule at least semi-regularly.
For example, I try to catch up with one of my friends for lunch at least 1 Friday a month. It’s great to get out of the house and provides me with social contact outside of my work bubble. I find myself looking forward to those outings and can easily schedule them into my diary in advance without sacrificing my work time.
What are your working from home tips? I would love to hear them.