Gone are the days of thinking it is unusual to work from a home office. Many authors, publicists, marketers, designers, website developers, etc., work from home and very successfully too. I’ve done both and I’m well aware of the pros and cons of working in an office and from a home office. Today, I thought I’d offer some tips for making a home office work for you.
But first, one of the top comments I hear from others is as follows:
“I could never work at home. I’d be distracted by the laundry and the dishes; I’d never get anything done.”
To which I would say, “Well then, you don’t have enough business, because when you’re busy, your head is down and you’re plowing your way through it all — completely ignoring anything but the work you need to get done that day.
Here are my personal tips for working in your home office:
Do not check email first thing in the morning
What?! I know, I know, but stop yourself. Think about it. When you check email, it is usually filled with requests from other people wanting something from you. Do you really want to begin the day in reactive mode? It’s much like saving money. Take the first 10 – 20% and pay yourself first; then pay everyone else. Otherwise, saving is hard. When you take the first portion of the day to set the tone and the plan for your day, you will automatically get so much more done on the projects that mean the most to you. You will help others, but you want to spend quality time on your projects first.
Do not read the news first thing when you wake up
I mean really. Who needs that? Who needs to start a brand new, fresh day reading about all the trials and tribulations in the world. Being informed is a good thing, but you can do that a little later in the day after you’ve done your morning routine.
Establish a morning routine that works for you
We’re all different with our own rhythms. Chances are you know if you’re a morning person or a night owl. If you’re a night owl, don’t try to make yourself into a morning person. That will just make you cranky. Instead, figure out what is going to work for you. If that means quality time on your pet projects following the evening meal, then make that sacred time for just that. I’m a morning person, so I get up very early at 4:00 a.m. (I know, I know. People tell me that’s crazy, but it works for me. I shower and clean up for the day, meditate, plan my priorities and then work on my most creative projects when I am the freshest.
Have a plan
Use a “to-do” app (Here’s a list of 20 of them) or a written list on a notebook, or whatever works best for you. It will keep you on track with your own priorities which are all too easy to forget during the day. You might try playing with a bullet journal, which is a nice way to capture all kinds of ideas, or a mind map. I also like to work with my team members on Monday.com and Google Drive.
Have a dedicated workspace
This one speaks for itself, but when you have a dedicated room or area of your home specifically for working, then you know when you walk into that space, it’s time to get busy. In NLP they call it anchoring. That means you have certain feelings associated with that location, and if it’s where you work, then you’ll be ready to work when you enter the space. Make sure it’s optimized for your type of work and everything you need is readily accessible. Put some time and resources into making your home office an inviting and efficient place to work.
Train others that when you’re working, you’re working (Unless you have young children or there is blood involved. ) Train friends that just because you’re working from home does not mean you’re available for lunch or shopping or goofing off at a moment’s notice. (Unless you need a break day. That’s different.) Establish business hours, and do your best to keep them. On the other hand, this is your business so if you feel like taking your sweetie out for a hike in the afternoon, then do it!
Take breaks often
Studies show then when you’re focused for a certain amount of time (some say 45 minutes, others say 90 minutes) you need to take a break to be productive again. In my case, I like to work in blocks of 60 – 90 minutes, and then I take 5 or 10 minutes off. This would be a walk around the block, throwing a toy for my dog, or maybe even cleaning something if I’m feel ambitious. The point it, it’s doing something other than work. This allows for your mind to know that while you’re very focused while working, you will soon get a break and that helps you be even more productive.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember. That is not a natural state
I hear the words “I’m overwhelmed” more often than just about anything else. It’s easy to blame technology or the pace of the world on this, but the truth is when it happens, we’re simply not managing ourselves well. (There are strategies for staying out of the state of overwhelm and if you’re interested in changing this pattern, contact me via email.)
Get exercise every day
We all know this is necessary, but when you work from home, it’s needed even more. When you have an office outside the home, more movement is needed just to get there and back home again. When involved in focused projects in your home office, movement is needed to keep the brain juices flowing so you will continue to be productive. Leave the house each day for a walk in nature. Get some air and get your heartrate up for a few minutes so your energy will stay up for the long haul.
Restrict the amount of time on social media
Huh? Really? Yes, really. I can’t think of anything more destructive to a productive day than scrolling through social media reading about other people’s problems. Social media should most definitely be part of your business, but plan your posts and do them when you plan to do that. Otherwise, log out of all your accounts during your work day, or at the minimum turn off all notifications on all your devices. On iOS devices, the “Do Not Disturb” setting is quite handy. You will be amazed at how much more focused and productive you will be.
Technology can be a nightmare (we’ve all been there), and it can be wondrous. In this day and age, we can enjoy great collaboration tools like Zoom and Skype to maintain contact with colleagues, readers, marketing partners, and vendors. I live on a mountain top. Gone are the days when I always have to travel for face-to-face time with clients and publishers. Zoom is my favorite platform for those meetings.
Hire a virtual assistant
A VA can handle many pieces to your business that need to be automated so you can spend your valuable time doing what you do best, and what clearly moves all your projects forward. You VA can schedule your calendar, post blogs, handle social media platforms, handle email campaigns, etc.
At quitting time, walk out and close the door
When you’re done for the day, walk out and close the door behind you. It can wait. This is part of having a ritual and a routine. Unless you have work that requires you to be on call (For me it’s when a client is on a media tour; I have to be available during off hours), then when you physically close the door, close your mind to working too. It’s on to other things now, like family, and play.
These are just a few of my favorite tips. Perhaps I’ll do “part 2” sometime soon. These tips are simply a guide as you make your own rituals for how best to work from your home office. However, you’re the boss so you get to write your own rules. I urge you to create a tips list yourself and if you have some good ones to add to this list, let me know. I will include them on Part 2, and will credit you, of course.
Remember, since you’re the boss, you can declare a “day off” whenever you like, so that’s another wonderful reason for having your own business.
To your success!
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