I’ve written posts in the past that have given home office ideas to readers, but I’m yet to share with you some of the harsh truths about actually working from home. Every time I tell someone that I work for myself from my home office, I’m always met with the exact same response; “Oh my God, you’re so lucky”.
Well, yes and no.
When I finally took the blog full time a few years back and started working from home, my partner would head off to his job in the morning and I would inevitably sit in my PJ’s for most of the day; writing a few blogs, surfing the net, replying to emails. At 5pm, I’d realised I hadn’t showered yet and that the place looked like a bomb had hit it. Cut to me racing around tidying up the house and showering moments before Gavin walked in the door.
This is not how you should work from home. In fact, now that I finally have my own office on the ground floor of my house, I think it’s timely I pass on a few lessons to you about my experience with working from home. And show you what not to do, too.
Working from Home: How to do it Right
You need get ready and “go to work”
You have to set an alarm, you need to get in the shower, and you have to get dressed (properly). I eventually got into a groove where I was ready and at my desk by 8.30am, prepared to take on the world. If you don’t establish that routine early on, you’ll shlep to your desk at 10am after watching some TV and eventually get into the zone about 1pm. Not a great start to the day and not at all productive.
I was in shlep zone for a long time and discovered that by the end of the week, I hadn’t achieved anywhere near as much as I wanted to.
You have to write daily to-do lists
I got into the habit of putting a list together every day. It would contain the blog stuff I needed to work on, the emails I needed to reply to and sales pitches I needed to make to brands for the blog. I would tick something off once I did it, and I even went as far as breaking the time I had up into sections (9am to 11am for blogging, 11am to 4pm for design clients, and so on).
It was the only way I could ensure I got everything done before my finish time of 5pm. Which brings me onto my next point…
You’ve got to establish set working hours
It is the trap every small business owner falls into (especially if your business is creative); you never have set hours. I get it, your work is more 24/7 than it is 9 to 5, but the groove I got into was establishing a start time for myself, a finish time and ensuring I took a lunch break every day. It can only be 30 minutes long, but you still need to have it.
And I don’t mean eating at your desk. I sit at my dining table or on the sofa. Sometimes I even get out for a 20 minute walk to get a coffee. You need a mental and visual break from the computer.
You have to shut down all Social Media
Facebook dings a lot in a day with new notifications. Twitter updates are happening around the clock, and the emails are always flooding in. When I was in a zone to write, I would shut down every other screen so that there were no social media distractions.
I would also put my phone on silent on pop on some Cafe Del Mar (or some other non-descript music) in the background. Lighting a candle is essential, too, for me anyway. Creating this time with no distractions allowed me to got a tonne of work done. You must try it.
You must interact with people offline
Working from home is isolating. Eventually I found myself talking to my cats, which is not in itself totally crazy, but when you start bitching to them about why you’re getting press releases about products that don’t fit your blog’s genre, you know there’s an issue. In all seriousness, though, working alone can be tough.
Don’t fall into the trap. Ensure you phone people as often as you can (it can be so much quicker to get results out of people than emailing them!). Also, book meetings with clients, meet up with other people in your circle and occasionally set some time aside to see friends for lunch. If you don’t do this you’ll go mad.
What are your tips for working from home? Share some of them with me below!