Thanks to WiFi, smart phones, and so many other advances in technology, there are more and more opportunities to work from home — either part time or full time.
Working from home has some huge advantages — like a more flexible schedule, savings on child care, and no daily commute. However, working from home also has it's challenges.
If you're contemplating working from home, here are a few tips and ideas that will hopefully make working from home work for you!
1. Get Ready Each Day
Just because you work from home, doesn't mean you can sleep in and spend all day in your PJ's!
While it's definitely nice to have a more flexible morning routine, I've personally found that I'm more productive if I get up at a decent hour, get dressed, get ready, and act like I'm going to the office — even if I'm just stepping into the next room.
Also, as part of your "getting ready routine" make sure you prepare to be productive each day. Make lists, reevaluate your goals, know what you absolutely must accomplish today, this week, and this month.
2. Create a Routine
No need for a super strict schedule, however, you'll be a lot more productive if you have a general routine and structure to your days.
For example, set certain hours for Skype meetings or phone conversations – and make sure you have childcare lined up for those hours. Know when your most productive hours are and schedule your more "intense" work during those hours. Try waking up at roughly the same time every day — and remember to give yourself breaks throughout the day.
Give yourself deadlines — and force yourself to stick to them. Since you might not have a boss breathing down your neck anymore, you'll need to be more strict with yourself — and creating a general routine can help you do just that. Have certain tasks you complete each day, at the beginning of each month, quarterly, etc. By doing this, you'll develop a routine which will ultimately save you a bunch of time and help you to be more productive!
3. Set Boundaries
It's nice that you can work when it's most convenient for you, but that can also translate into working 24/7. Set boundaries as to when you will and will not work. Take a day of rest — and set up your email auto-response to reflect any time off.
Make sure family knows they can't just stop by at any time — and just because you're home doesn't mean you can sit and chat or go out for lunch every day.
Don't answer personal calls when you're on work hours (unless it's an emergency) and as hard as it might be, try to refrain from checking personal emails, personal social media sites, and personal hobby/shopping sites!
4. Designate YOUR workspace.
A kitchen table will work as a last resort, but I've found that it's helpful if I can "set up shop" in a specific area of my home and keep things set up throughout the day. If I'm working on a project, I like to keep all the paperwork and other items sitting out so I can come and go as my schedule allows without the need to constantly pick up each time.
You don't need a fancy home office — just a space that you can call "your own". Maybe it's an unused bedroom, a section of the living room, or even the basement storage closet — almost any space can work!
We have a designated home office that's right off the living room and just a few steps away from our bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. The home office is actually one of the selling points when we purchased our home, and as a full-time work-from-home person, I can say that our home office definitely helps me to be more productive. I can still be in on the action of the house (when necessary) but I can also get down to business without wasting time getting organized or moving my tools and supplies again and again.
5. Invest in the right tools.
And speaking of "tools" and supplies", it IS important to have the right tools to properly do your job.
Depending on what type of work you're doing, your company might be willing to pay for the tools you need to work from home. If not, consider it a business expense and invest in the tools that will help you to do your work as efficiently as possible from your remote location.
Do you need a land-line or will your cell phone work? What type of computer do you need? Is your Internet connection fast enough? And will you need a fax machine or more competent printer? What about a filing cabinet or storage for your things? Consider all the items you might need and make sure you have access to them from your home office.
Working from home can be stressful at times, but once you get a general routine and learn to find that delicate balance between work and home, the benefits can far outweigh any negative aspects.
Do you work from home? What are your best tips for making it work for you?