Many coaches when they set up their own coaching business work from home. In today’s guest post Amy Woods shares:
Top 10 Tips to Make You More Productive When Working From Home
By Amy Woods
Did you know there are more people working from home today than there have ever been before? In the UK alone, according to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people working from home reached 4.2m in 2014. In the USA, 1 in 5 workers (30m people) are based from home, and that number is expected to increase considerably in the coming years. This conjures up images of millions of people working in their pyjamas, in sub-optimal postures, spending their days trying to resist the many distractions at home!
For many entrepreneurs, when setting-up their own business, a big change can be the change in work environment. In particular, if you’re setting-up an online business, you’re almost certainly going to get started by working from home. If working from home is not something that you’re used to, then it can be a very difficult adjustment. Difficult to be productive. Difficult to motivate yourself. It can even feel quite lonely and isolating. You may find yourself seeking solace from a Facebook binge instead of working through that long to-do list.
Never fear. If there is one thing I have become a pro at over many years now, it’s how to be productive when working from home. Let me share with you my top tips for staying happy, healthy and productive when working from home. I’ve thought through a typical day and laid out my tips in the order that they generally occur.
1. Dress like you mean business – I don’t mean wear your suit and polish your shoes! But personally I find I can develop the right mindset and be more work focussed if I feel like I’m at least dressed in a presentable way. I apply the rule that I must be presentable in such a way that if I needed to leave the house I could without feeling a bit of a mess. I always get dressed that’s for sure, no pyjamas! Everyone is different… for me, this also means my contact lenses are in and my makeup is on. Bottom line, make sure YOU feel like you mean business.
2. Have a dedicated workspace – If you have room in your home to do so, then have a home office set-up. If you don’t have room then at least make a dedicated section that is focussed on work. Some people often find it hard to cope with the blur of work and home, so reduce the fuzziness.
3. De-clutter and organise – Personally I like my workspace to be free from clutter and organised. Everyone is different. As Albert Einstein said:
‘If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?’
So perhaps clutter isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Clutter aside, you may want to consider what your workspace requires, and invest where possible, e.g. monitor, printer, storage etc. You may not have a lot of budget to invest in setting-up an all singing all dancing workspace at home, but if there is one thing alone that you should invest in, it’s an ergonomic chair that is good for your back. If there is one thing worse than an un-productive entrepreneur, it’s an un-productive entrepreneur with a bad back!
4. Be disciplined with time management and planning – I’m not saying that you should be at your desk from 9 to 5. Really where is the fun in escaping the 9-5 if you mimic it again at home! But, what I am saying is you need to work out how many hours you are going to work on your business each day, what you will work on, and you must map out your schedule, and stick to it. By all means that schedule may fit in around looking after the kids, attending a class at the gym, joining the ‘ladies that lunch’… whatever makes you happy. But, if you intend to work 6 hours tomorrow, plan when and stick to it. Be disciplined. One slip leads to another and before you know it, that 25 hour week becomes 8 hours and you wonder why you didn’t achieve what you set out to. Plan every day what you are going to do, better still, plan the night before for the next day.
5. Take breaks – Never forget that breaks are important. Personally, I’m bad for following this advice, I take less breaks when I work from home compared to when in an office. I find when I’m focussed and ‘in the zone’ I can go 3-4 hours without even having a drink. No-one is popping over and saying ‘fancy a break’… so I don’t. Take breaks. Stand up, step away from your desk. Go and make a cup of tea, go and have a little stroll outside, fresh air is wonderful, whatever you do have a brain break. Even if that’s watching 15 mins of trash on TV.
6. Plan your meals – You’re gong to find that you’re at home for lunch more than ever before, so plan for that from a food perspective. Eat healthy. Plan ahead where you can. And don’t forget to drink. Hydration is really important. More water, less caffeine!
7. Manage expectations – Make sure friends/family etc know you are working from home, and that it isn’t some sort of euphemism for lazing around doing very little… you are actually working from home. By all means arrange to see friends and family but at times that factor into your work schedule for the day. It’s okay to ignore the front door bell or the home phone, if you were at the office you wouldn’t answer so you don’t have to now.
8. Keep up human contact… don’t become a recluse. Make sure that you get out and about. Consider taking your work with you to a different environment. Why not go to your local coffee shop that has decent wi-fi? Perhaps you know others who work from home, you could meet for lunch, work together at the same location? This tip extends to being social with people you are engaging with to do business – you may find yourself emailing people all the time, why not occasionally phone them or have a video call on Skype, get to know the real person behind the typing!
9. Stay off social media – If you have the tendency to get stuck into Facebook, Twitter, Google+… etc etc, and before you know it an hour has passed by, STAY AWAY. Fine if you allow yourself ‘brain breaks’ and have a little gander at what’s going on once in a while, but as a general rule, try to stay away from non value-add activity that will only take you off task.
10. Know when to stop working – Don’t forget to stop working! Sounds simple enough yet it’s so easy to keep on working and forget when to call it a day. The reality is, if you’re in the midst of setting up your own business, you never really ‘stop’ working, it’s on your mind all the time. But that said, it’s not healthy to work long hours repeatedly – not healthy for your business as well as for you.
If you like this article please head on over to my website – http://www.mummyentrepreneur.co.uk. You will find other interesting articles, plus the opportunity to sign-up for a free training series on how to set-up an online business from scratch.
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