Life is filled with distractions.
And work life is no exception. It seems there is always something willing to take our minds away from spreadsheets, emails, and meetings. And if you work from home there are even more distractions fighting you tooth and nail throughout the day…
The laundry is piling up, the dog needs to be let outside, and of course the television is constantly calling your name. So, how do you combat these constant disturbances, stay motivated, and get things done?
Here are my top five tips for working from home and, more importantly, getting things done while you’re there.
1. Establish a space in your home that is solely for your business. This could be as dedicated as a whole room, or as small as a tiny nook (just make sure it has a door). It doesn’t matter what the size, as long as it is large enough for you to get your work done, and you feel comfortable working there routinely. *Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to test out various areas until you get it right.
Take me for example. I have set up my office on the far side of my bedroom, even though there is plenty of space for me to move into a much larger room. I feel comfortable and more inspired in my small nook than a larger dedicated space, so I went with what ‘felt right’ rather than what seemed more practical at the time.
Find the space that works for you, and you’ll be well on your way.
2. Set ground rules. Establishing a boundary during “work hours” with family members may sound silly. But it’s necessary. This means letting family and friends know that you’re not available to “chat” during your work hours on the phone or in person, unless it’s lunchtime (or some other time you decide).
And if you have children or a spouse at home while you are working, set boundaries with them as well. “Sweetie, I’d love to play with you, but mommy’s at work right now. I’ll come get you when I am finished, and we can play then.” I know this may be a hard one to follow, especially if your children are small, but do the best you can.
3. Make a list and set a schedule. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to dos, making a list can really help. And if you have reoccurring tasks, creating a schedule for yourself would be beneficial. So, once you’ve laid out your tasks and set a schedule, take things one step further: write it down so you don’t forget. I recommend using a simple calendar tool like Google Calendar or iCal (for Macs) for tracking important tasks and sending reminders.
Note: Studies show that your brain is in its most efficient state when you first wake up in the morning. So, you may want to think about doing your most important or creative tasks right when you wake up, and save emails and blog posts for later in the day. Those “mindless” activities like filling out shipping labels, might be best left until the afternoon. But everyone is different. So again, figure out what works best for you and take it from there.
4. Make the most of it. When you are feeling especially motivated, make the most of that time. Get a jump start on client work that’s not due for weeks, write and schedule some blog posts in advance, or organize your supplies now so you can work more efficiently later. When those more challenging days roll around, and trust me- they will, you’ll be happy you did this.
5. Get out. If you’re feeling cramped or unmotivated and can take your show on the road, than do that! Get out of the house and find somewhere else to work for the day. This could be some place like the library, a small cafe, a quiet park, or even as close as your own backyard. When you eliminate the distractions of home, by physically removing your self every once in a while, it can be a HUGE motivator.
So now that I’ve shared my tips, I’d love to hear yours. What tricks have you picked up along the way for successfully working from home?