How to be Successful When You Work From Home
I love being able to work from home; I can drive my daughter to and from school, eat and prepare meals for my son, walk the dogs, take a shower — all on my time. However, working form home can bring on a myriad of problems you may not have had to deal with before.
The best advice I can give you is to manage your time well. When I’m unfocused and feel anxious about the various dilemmas that arise throughout the day, my day passes by and before I know it, it’s 10 p.m. and I have not achieved very much.
When you get up in the morning, instead of going straight to your computer and working immediately, take a little time for yourself. Take a shower, brush your teeth, have a cup of coffee and walk the dogs.
Avoid working in your pajamas. You don’t need to put on a business suit and be decked out in full make-up, but at least change out of your pajamas and into comfortable, presentable clothing. I find that when I’m actually dressed and not in boxers or sweats, I am more productive and act and feel more professional.
Make sure you set up your home office in a room that has a door or that is private and away from the kids’ room or the TV. It is incredibly easy to get distracted at home. When you can sit in an office with the door closed, you are able to concentrate on your work better. Let your kids know what you’re doing in your office and let them know how important it is for them to respect your office and your office rules. Instead of allowing them to barge into your office during your work hours, let them know that you are always there for them, but if they know you are working in your office and the door is closed, they should knock gently on your door. Explain to them about phone calls you may be taking. Tell them that if you’re on the phone, they need to play quietly until you are finished. More importantly, however, let them know that working from home allows you to spend the day with them. Your job makes you happy, and when you’re happy, your kids are happy.
Start your day off by writing a to-do list for work. What projects are pending? Whose calls do you need to return? Are there projects on the horizon that you need to monitor at some point? Prioritize your projects. Take care of projects that need to be completed first. When you have a list, you are more focused and able to accomplish your goals more easily.
Establish two or three times when you will check your email during the work day: morning, afternoon and just before going to sleep. If your job requires constant communication via email, then check your email every hour. Constantly checking your email every five or ten minutes can take a lot of time and eat away at your day.
On the weekend, take a a little time to plan out meals for the week. When I don’t do this, I’m scrambling for lunch and dinner ideas and become stressed, especially when I don’t have the right ingredients. Create or look for easy recipes that only use ten or less ingredients and take only half an hour or less to prepare. Do your grocery shopping on the weekend so you don’t have to take critical time out of your work week to do it. There are many recipes that you can make ahead of time, put in the refrigerator, and then heat up when you’re ready. Avoid inconvenient meals that require a lot of preparation. The Food Network is a great resources for simple, delicious meals.
Designate one day during the week that you’ll dedicate to running errands and write down all the stuff you need to do when you’re out and about. Friday is my errand day. When I didn’t have a designate errand day, I was going out on a daily basis. I’d find myself at the grocery store, office supply store or post office and forget what I needed to buy or send.
When I told friends and family I was working from home, they were very supportive. Unfortunately, some of them related working at home with having nothing to do but play with the kids or running incessant errands. I once had a girl friend tell me that she was jealous of my work situation because I had so much free time. Was she talking to me? Let your friends and family know that your job is very important and very real. Just because you work at home does not mean that you watch TV and chat on the phone all day.
If your kids are old enough, have them help you with simple household chores like the dishes or even just picking up their toys. You will free up some time that you can dedicate to other projects and teach your children about responsibility.
When you start to feel antsy, grouchy or uninspired, stop working and take a break. Just like working at a traditional office, make sure you give yourself five or ten minute breaks and an opportunity to eat a healthy lunch. There have been occasions when I’ve sat in front of the computer for hours without a break, lunch and a snack. I get irritable and my work production slows down considerably. To refresh and invigorate your day, take a brisk walk outside with the kids. Spend these breaks with your kids and laugh with them. Don’t be a slave to your computer.
Be flexible with your work day. When I worked in a traditional office setting, I had set hours. There was a specific time I needed to be at work and there was time I could look forward to when my work day would end. Working at home is different — you can never predict what will happen during the day. Maybe your child is sick and requires a lot of attention one day. You may have to work later in the day or at night time.
Working at home can be very beneficial and rewarding. Stay focused and handle everything with a smile.