In January 2014, I left my full time 9-5. I thought it will be so awesome working from home and being my own boss. I think the first MONTH I worked from home I got absolutely NOTHING done. Spinning my wheels and walking in circles day after day. Something that should have taken a couple of hours to finish was still undone a week later. I would look reach the end of the day not be able to name 2 things I did all day. Things are much different now! So I want to share some tips that helped me have more productive and efficient days.
1. GET UP AND GET GOING
Everyone wants to go to work in their pajamas because it sounds so cool! However, it is not always the best for working efficiently throughout the day from home. First, if you’re in pajamas its waaaaaay to easy to hop back in the bed or never get up to begin with. Start your day like you would if you were going to a separate work location. Shower, dress, have breakfast, pack a lunch, and anything else that you need to do to get in the mindset to work. Grab your coffee, read your paper, go to the gym, or whatever you need to get your motor running. Once you get your day started you are more inclined to be ready to work.
2. OUTLINE YOUR GOALS
Make a list of things to accomplish for the day, the week, the month, the quarter, the year, etc. Outline daily tasks that will help you get your goals completed. How can you measure your success and how efficiently you’re working without goals? What does work entail? Do you have a specific plan? What are you trying to accomplish? You need a specific list of tasks to perform throughout the day. Review your list at the end of the day and evaluate your work for the day. How much did you really get done? Do you need to do more/less? Use this to make your list for the next day. Watch for areas where you can improve your effectiveness and efficiency. When you look at your list of daily to-do items make sure it lines up with your goals.
3. GET AN “OFFICE”
Well it doesn’t necessarily have to be a literal office but you do need a designated space where you sit to work. Working from home gives me the option to lay in bed with my laptop and “work” but let’s be honest I will more than likely stay distracted and off pace compared to when I’m sitting at a desk and focused. Have a work space that is your own where you are comfortable enough to work throughout the day but serious enough to keep you focused while you are working. The beautiful thing is that working from home is so flexible that one day my office may be Starbucks, the next day the library, and the following day the dog park. Wherever your designated place may be, get to that space and ready to work on your goals that you have set out to accomplish for the day.
4. SET DEFINITE WORKING HOURS
This tip is more for those with super flexible time schedules. For example, if you work in a home based call center, you more than likely have times when you should be available for taking or making phone calls. However, when you work on your own schedule there is more room to put things off. You can also be easily distracted without setting definite work times. It also gives more of a professional feel of a work day even if its not your standard 9-5.
It doesn’t matter if your starting time is midnight as long as its clear that the time you designate for work are the times that you will sit to focus on work. Make sure your family and friends know what your working hours are just like you were leaving home to go to a regular job. Doing this should reduce disruptions and interruptions throughout the day like phone calls and surprise visits which can distract you and have you off focus for hours. Another benefit for setting working hours is working on your business everyday. In the long run, this only leads to more success.
5. SET YOUR BUSINESS UP CORRECTLY
This may be the last tip for this session but it is definitely important. Be sure that your business is in order from top to bottom…from a to z! Try to do this from day 1. Its much easier to get it together from the beginning than to try to fix an issue down the line. Included (but not limited) in this is taxes, business identities, business address and contact information, legal, financials such as banking information, etc. It is easier to set up a business/work bank account than to try to separate commingled funds down the line. Additionally, in a lot of fields, it is unlawful to mix your business and personal funds. That is one heck of a lesson you DO NOT want to learn the hard way. Research what you need for your business to operate such as business licenses or certifications.
I can outline many other tips for you. These tips are a good start to get you acclimated to working from home. Just remember you are now the boss and the employee that you must keep focused and on task is yourself. When you are prepared and attack your day with a professional and business mindset, you will be more effective and successful.