There’s a difference between working from home here and there, and working from home full time. Working from home 2 days a week is a nice break from the office, but when you’re home becomes your only office, that’s when you need to make sure you still have some structure to your day.
Many people think working from home is glamorous; everyone wants to do it. There are many advantages to being able to walk from one side of your house to the other to step into the office. Who wants to sit in traffic for 2 hours or more each day? There’s also a savings on clothing; not having to buy work and play clothes can save you a significant amount of money each year.
But ask yourself this: can you really conduct a business meeting in your pj’s, or get work done with your kids running around you all day? If you’re just getting started working from home, whether it’s a remote office or you have your own business, there are some steps you can take to ensure your transition will be successful. Keep in mind that getting started is the hardest part, and there is an adjustment period to take into consideration.
There are more distractions than you would imagine at home. Although an office has it’s own set of distractions: co-workers, bosses, visitors, countless meetings, lunches, happy hours, etc, working from home also has it’s own. I personally am more productive at home than I was in an office, but it took a while to get used to things like not cleaning the house every time I saw something out of place, not answering the door every time a solicitor showed up, stopping to play with the dog, etc.
You have a little more control at home to avoid distractions. You can’t tell your co-worker or boss to leave you alone when you’re trying to meet a deadline, but if you’re home and they’re calling you, putting that call off until you get to a comfortable stopping point is a huge time saver. You can literally shave a minimum of 1-2 hours off your day if you sit down, focus and get your work done without distractions.
This was my first big lesson I learned 18 years ago when I started working from home. I thought I could get everything done in the early morning hours, in the evening and naptime. I was wrong. Not that it couldn’t be done, but I felt like I was always working. If you’re going to work a couple hours a day this routine would be possible, but if you’re working closer to a full time schedule, you need daycare for your kids, period.
Dress for success
Although working in your pj’s might be comfy, it also makes you a little too comfy. Resist the urge to crawl back in bed when you’re not feeling well by getting up and starting your day like you were heading to the office. This gets your mind set in work mode, and helps set the tone for the day. You don’t need to dress in your business best, but get out of your pj’s or sweats and into something comfortable and casual.
Prepare your lunch & snacks
Prepare your breakfast, lunch and snacks the night before like you would if you’re going to the office. This will allow you to grab a quick bite and not take too much time making lunch in your kitchen, which can turn into getting things ready for dinner. Although you might think working from home allows you more flexibility for doing things like that, it can also turn into a big time-suck that can get away from you.
Schedule your exercise time
If you’re someone who likes to workout a few days a week, be sure to schedule your time to exercise like you would an appointment. Pick a time and stick to it either first thing in the morning, at lunch or right after work. You can always make adjustments along the way, but treat it like any other appointment by putting it in your schedule and working around it.
Our lives are busy, there’s no way around that. Run errands or schedule doctor and dental appointments like you would if you were in an office. Are you a power napper? Schedule 20 mins to lay down and catch that quick nap that will help you get through the rest of your day. There’s no need to hide under your desk with a pillow and blanket, just set an alarm for 20 minutes and get a few zzz’s. If you were in an office and needed an afternoon break, it would take you about 20 minutes to get up, walk around and grab some coffee. The mistake here would be to just lay down with no end in site and wake up at 5:00. Day over? Wrong, guess who’s working until midnight.
If you think this sounds too structured, think again. You still have the flexibility to create your day to work for you and whoever you’re working for. You can make up lost time in the evening when you need to have some time off during the day, or you can work on the weekend if you need to take time off during the week.
Working from home is a great option for many people that just takes some getting used to. The biggest mistake I’ve found over the years in working with others who work from home is becoming lackadaisical. This can happen either at home or in an office, but sometimes it’s harder to keep yourself motivated if you don’t have some type of structure to your day. Make a plan, keep things flexible, and you’re sure to have a successful work at home experience.
Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you’re looking for information on working with a Virtual Assistant for yourself or to help with a project, give her a call today at (440) 973-7005.