For some it’s a dream. “I get to spend all day in my PJ’s!”
For others, a nightmare. “I’d get too distracted, I’d end up doing laundry and play Candy Crush.”
For many, it’s impossible. “How could I ever work successfully at home?”
I’ve never had a full time office job. I’ve worked exclusively at home for the past seven years and love it. Here’s how you can do it too.
1. Define the why
I’ll work from home while I’m raising my child. I’ll work from home to start my own business. I write so I don’t need to go to an office.
What’s your reason for making this choice? Be specific. Why do you want to work from home? That’s the first question you should ask, but there are others: Why will you enjoy working from home? What will you get out of the experience? Why will you succeed working from home?
2. Remember it’s work
Most people have a natural division of work life and home life. Each life has their own location and their own hours. When you work from home that line is blurred. You have to make your own division.
Start work at a specific time and designate a specific place in your home as a work only space. You can even go so far as to create an actual line on the floor. When you step over the line, you are in work mode.
3. Create a routine
A day at work often starts exactly the same way. Coat off, computer on, cup of coffee. There’s a routine that begins the work day. One way to establish a work/home life division is to create a routine that begins your day. Set three actions that put you in the right frame of mind to move from home to work.
4. Those pj’s have to go
One action that will help divide work from home life is to change clothes. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie — think “Casual Friday” attire. Loungewear isn’t designed for working. It’s designed, well, for lounging.
5. Break the rules
Establishing a work life at home does not mean you have to copy the office from beginning to end. You don’t have to work nine-to-five every day. You don’t have to work for eight hours in a row. You don’t have to take an hour lunch because that’s how it’s done at the office. I get up at 6:30 and the bulk of my work is done by noon. Some people thrive late at night. Some thrive doing their work in small chunks. Find out when and how you work best.
6. Make the time sacred
When you’re breaking the rules, there is only one thing to remember: make your time sacred. It doesn’t matter if you work one hour a day or seventeen, so long as you value your time. Make work important to you and it’ll get done. This mindset more than anything will help you succeed when working from home.
7. Set boundaries
Treat your work time as sacred and make sure those around you do the same. Sometimes people find out you’re working from home and they don’t hear the word “working,” they only hear “home.” They assume that if you’re home, it’s OK to bother you.
Be clear with friends and family — set hours where they can’t visit or call. You also have to set boundaries with yourself — those who work from home can burn out easily. They work long into the night or on weekends because there’s no official beginning or ending.
Define the time that work ends. Do the same for days off. Set them in stone and stick to them. You’ll be more productive in the long run.
8. Define your distractions
It’s one thing to say “my time is sacred,” it’s another thing to follow through. Distractions are plentiful in the home office. One way to succeed is to define your distractions. Everyone has their Achilles’ heel. Know what’s going to pull you away from your work: Is it people? Is it games and puzzles? Is it TV? Is it being in a messy house? Define your distractions and then take steps to get rid of them.
9. Take breaks
Some who work from home become easily distracted because they haven’t figured out their most effective work pattern. They try to work for eight hours in a row and their brain rebels.
The truth is the normal work day may be eight hours, but few people actually work for that length of time. There are many breaks built into the office day — don’t beat yourself up for not working eight hours straight. Nobody does.
Take a coffee break. Make sure you leave your space for lunch. End your day at a reasonable hour.
Breaks are important for productivity. They recharge the brain.
10. Find your motivation
Working from home means there’s no boss standing over you tapping their watch to make sure you meet a deadline. You have to be self-motivated and your own task master. Not everyone enjoys motivating themselves — they like having someone else crack the whip. If you’re that kind of person, working from home won’t be ideal.
11. Find your focus
Do you work best when you listen to music? Do you need white noise? Silence?
Everyone works differently and you may need to experiment to find your optimal focus environment. When you’re focused you’ll get more done.
12. Like being alone
It can be lonely working from home. It’s just you and the work — all day long.
For some, the appeal of the workplace can be spending time with your coworkers. There’s someone there to talk to, joke with, blow off steam with. Make sure you enjoy working in solitude.
Will you miss having colleagues around? If you work well alone, can motivate yourself to move forward, and know exactly why you’ll enjoy working from home, do it. It’s not for everyone but for those who thrive in an alternative environment there’s no better office.
Photo credit: Big Stock Photos