The theme for March at the Women’s Learning Studio is getting unstuck in your life or career and realizing your passion and vision. Have you dreamed of working from home either by telecommuting to your office or starting a business? Ready to jump those cubicle snap-in walls? Want the flexibility the home office affords?
Doris, Lyn and I created the Studio from our respective homes and connected with each other to plan, design, actualize our dream mostly via web meetings. We had years of working in companies, schools, organizations, and government under our collective belts, and found working from home suited each of us well. As more and more employers allow workers to telecommute all or part of their work time, and remote work teams are becoming more of a norm, how to work from home has gained a lot of attention in the media.
Whether you are a telecommuter or entrepreneur, it is true that working from home is not for everyone. As Kerry Hannon from Forbes Magazine in her 10 Tips for Working from Home says: “From my experience, to work from home on a regular basis, you must be well-organized, have time management skills and be a self-starter. Not everyone is hardwired that way. Be honest with yourself before you take the leap.” You have to be a self-motivated, directed person to make this work, but you can more easily adapt to a home office environment if you follow these tips from the Huffington Post, Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal, and to make sure you get some Zen thought in there too, ZenHabits. The following list is a compilation of their advice, and I’ve added some of my experience and tips as well. Only you can say if working at home will suit you, but there’s a lot of help out there to get you started and keep you motivated if your dream is to have no commute at all.
10 Tips for Working at Home
- Designate a space in your home specifically for work and set it up as an office. Some people thrive on moving around their house from spot to spot, but having a designated space allows you to separate work and play. If possible, use a room that has a door. My office doesn’t, and I wish it did so I could block out noise from pets and family. Make sure your office is comfortable, you have an ergonomic work space, and decorate it in ways that make you smile!
- If you have children in the house, get childcare during your work hours, and Inc. suggests pasting a colored paper on your door – red means don’t disturb, yellow means knock and I may have time, green means come on in. Young children can easily learn the color code, but I think it is a great idea for spouses or partners, too. Now, if I could only teach my dogs to pay attention to those colors!
- Prioritize work tasks and get the work done. I have 3 lists: must get done today, nice to get done today, have to get done this week. That way I pay attention to the must get done list and when I do get those tasks done, it increases my sense of accomplishment and helps me feel organized and productive.
- Keep regular work hours, with periods of email and phone blackouts to maximize focus and creativity. Since working at home offers more flexibility, you can decide if you want to deviate from your work hours, but don’t let others think you can vary your work time at will even if you can and will. They will keep interrupting you for extended play dates if you do.
- Take breaks on a regular basis. Go for a walk, exercise, or take a nap. Taking breaks clears your mind, recharges your focus, and makes you more, not less, productive. It is very easy to just keep working and not pay attention to the mind-body connection.
- Keep connected to others, whether it is co-workers or clients. Use Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime, and other free conferencing tools that allow face-to-face conversations. If you work for a company, check in that way often so you are not passed over for assignments, new responsibilities, or promotions. When possible, meet in person as that establishes or reestablishes connections, and does get you out of the house occasionally!
- Get dressed. Having a routine as if you are going to an office reminds you that you have a work life even though you are at home. As Allison Griswold from Business Insider says in her article, 7 Tips to Stay Motivated while Working from Home: “Changing from loaf-around-the-house clothes to presentable attire is another way of creating boundaries between home life and work life. You can put the slippers and sweatshirt back on at the end of the day.”
- Separate your work and personal digital accounts. Use separate accounts for email, social media, web conferencing, everything. Doing so maintains clear boundaries. Business Insider recommends keeping separate digital devices for work and personal use. Since I work for myself, I can’t afford to do this but having separate work and personal accounts helps me use my digital devices without too much blending of my two worlds.
- If you are finding you are in an unproductive period, try relocating to a local coffee shop, library, or other wired place outside your home. A change in location can sometimes give you the charge you need to get back on track. Coffee and a snack don’t hurt either.
- I love all 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working from Home from Zenhabits, but I think one of the most important ones is no going back to work when you’ve finished to check emails, jot down some notes, or just redo something. It is so easy to do this when your office is part of your house. Set limits and keep to them. I am still working on this one!
Need more help to move your work home? The Women’s Learning Studio offers coaching, learning concierge, and business consultation services. Contact us today to get unstuck and move ahead with your dreams.
Do you work from home? What tips do you have for those who are considering making the move, or for those of us who are already happily ensconced in our home offices? Thinking of working from home? What questions do you have about doing it? Share your comments below.