A lot of people think working from home is a dream…
…conference calls in your pajamas, waking up whenever you want, playing music while finishing up a big project – the list seems to go on and on! But those who do work from home know that there are a lot of struggles that go along with the benefits! On a daily basis, they fight the cat climbing on their computer keyboard, the baby waking up from his nap, and the struggle to stay organized. Sometimes, the distractions seem to outweigh the positive aspects!
So I reached out to some of my favorites entrepreneurs and compiled a list of the best ways to successfully work from home. I would love for you to get involved as well! If your favorite tip isn’t listed here, please feel free to leave it in the comments below.
Be honest with yourself. Take the time to really learn what works best for you. Can you get things done curled up in bed with your computer? If so, great! But, sometimes, you may need to hunker down at a desk. Jillian Dretzka of Spark + Influence says to admit when you feel your self-discipline slipping:
“There are days where if I know I have a lot of planning or writing to do, I sit at my desk and there are others that I know I can sit at my coffee table or on my couch and be just fine!”
Have your own work space. Dedicating a specific space that you can work in is critical. Try to set up your office away from the busy areas of your home (like the kitchen, or a playroom), and decorate it to your tastes! Make sure your area is well-organized, and try decorating with inspirational quotes or photos that keep you motivated while working from home. Sydney Cruise, of Modern Luxe Creative, agrees:
“Even if you work from home, it helps to have your own established space where you can focus and get down to business!”
Tamara Mayhew Budz, of Silver Shade Group, says that it’s important to actually utilize the office space as well!
“If you allow your work to spill all over the house, your entire house will become your office and you’ll feel compelled to work all of the time.”
Maintain a work/life balance. Make sure there’s clear separation between work and home, even though you’re working in your home! Establish set work times and set times to spend with your family. While being a business owner does mean putting in extra hours, guard the time with your family carefully. Turn off your phone and email during dinner and family-centered time. Kathryn Hofer, Managing Director of Modern Planner, says:
“My biggest tip is to have boundaries, official work hours that work for you, regardless of time of day or day of the week. Set up a dedicated physical space to separate business and personal projects; establish phone and social media breaks. Anything that helps you adjust from business hat to personal hat is so helpful!”
Involve your kids. From giving them small tasks (like stamping envelopes and shredding papers) to having them “crunch the numbers” of their math homework in a suit and tie, your kids will love pretending to be entrepreneurs like mom or dad! Lauren Black, of Honey and Grace, suggests setting up a table where they can color or do their homework in the room with you. This makes them feel involved, and makes working from home easier!
“Perhaps even give them a paycheck (read: allowance) and teach them to save, tithe and invest their money at a young age.”
Take your business at your own pace. If you want to grow quickly, then, by all means, do! But some of you may be a stay-at-home parent, or have other goals. Be okay with where you are right now! Christina Jones, of Christina Elisa Photography, is a stay-at-home mom, focusing on her children with the freedom that being a small business owner allows.
“I know I will have a lot more time once both kids are in school, so I’m ok with taking my time in establishing myself and also limiting the number of projects I take on at once.”
Stay organized. Keep track of everything you need to do; write it down! If you’re good with planners, then that’s a great place to keep your to-do list. Or, if you’d rather go digital, Trello and Asana are excellent options! Keep your files safe and organized, on an external hard drive or the cloud. Google Drive and Dropbox are great choices for digital storage. And, most importantly, keep track of your finances. We recommend using Quickbooks; it also integrates with a lot of other financial options!
Be professional. You need to act like a business that you are, even if you’re working from your home. Get dressed in the morning; it puts you in the right mindset to work. Set up a business phone number that will forward to your cell phone. Google Voice is excellent – you can set it to go straight to voicemail before and after a certain time, and even forward it to employees’ phones. Consider getting a virtual office to use for your business address; this makes you look more professional and is an added security measure at the same time! Some virtual offices come with conference room time, which is a great option for client meetings.
Get out of the house. Working from home doesn’t mean you always have to be at the house. Take short breaks, get away from your computer screen, and take a walk outside! Once in a while, take your laptop to a nearby coffee shop; the change in scenery can be inspiring! Just make sure not to be stationary all day; even standing up and moving around the house keeps you healthy and alert.
Working from home comes with a ton of benefits, but also requires discipline and work! We’d love to hear from you! Do you work from home? What are your favorite ways to stay focused?