I’m a little more than 4 years out from being fired from my nonprofit 9 to 5 and running my business full-time from home. I am surviving YAY ME! It’s taken some time to figure out what works best, but I’ve put together a list of my tips for working from home. Whether you work remotely for a big company, home-school your kiddos, or run your own business from home, hopefully, you’ll be able to plug these into your situation!
1. Set designated working hours and force yourself to follow them. I like my sleep…like, a lot. If I let myself, I’d totally revert to my college self and sleep until noon. Yeah, there will be times when you binge-watch Gilmore Girls until 2 am and the alarm gets pushed back a couple of hours (or is this just me?), but, for the other 99% of the time, SET YOUR ALARM and get up.
2. Get dressed. This sucks. I know! Shouldn’t the perk of working from home be working in yoga pants?! I promise you. I speak from experience here. You will be 100 times more likely to have a productive day when you’re presentable. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true. As a photojournalist, I should be ready to walk the door for at any time for a shoot , go on supply runs, go to the post office, etc. I can’t hide out and be a creeper peeking through the blinds all day. Sh@t– getting dressed honestly makes me more productive and sociable whether it’s for work or for personal time. I’m ready to catch a movie or have dinner with a friend when I’ve showered, put on some clothes, and a little bit of makeup.
3. Have a designated workspace. Your set-up can’t be your couch and coffee table. That’s too close to the temptation of Netflix and last night’s Real Housewives on your DVR. Whether you have a designated nook, a basement, or an entire room, have a place that is separate from distractions around your house. This helps your focus remain on work during work hours.
4. Make your workspace fun. Make it the most fun room in your house if you can! If the room doesn’t make you happy, you’ll dread going in. Light a candle, hang fun prints on the wall, during the holidays play Christmas music. When your work relies on creativity like mine does, I need a room that is inspiring to be in.
5. Lunch: Meal plan and eat at the kitchen table. I’ll just be honest, if I ate lunch in the living room, it would turn into a Sex in the City marathon. If I ate lunch in my bedroom, it would turn into a nap. Sit at the kitchen table, put down your phone, and take a lunch break. When you’re finished, you can return to your workspace. I’ve found that by doing this I’m less likely to get distracted by anything else. Lastly, be sure to plan your lunches ahead of time. Don’t waste your precious time figuring out what to cook or what drive-thru you can get to the quickest.
6. Set boundaries with your friends and family. For me, this was the hardest when it came to my family. Make sure they have a good understanding of your work time and play time. Just because I’m at home and am my own boss doesn’t mean I’m available for a Tuesday matinée. When I first found myself with this newfound freedom, it felt like summer break all the time. Buuuut…I actually have to get something accomplished every day, so setting boundaries early on was a big help.
7. Enjoy a change of scenery. For the most part, I like to be in my office when it comes to working on projects like editing, creating marketing material etc. I can travel with all my equipment, but on rare days when working remotely is an option – take advantage of it.’ corporate lingo!). It’s fairly easy to find a coffee shop or patio with free Wi-Fi. A lot of Starbucks have rooms you can reserve for free. I love brainstorming new workshop ideas and stylized sessions while enjoying a new restaurant I’ve been dying to try. Plus…you can write it off!
8. Allow yourself work perks (in moderation). At the end of the day, you are your own boss. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are and you should be able to enjoy a perk or two for heaven’s sake! I’ve changed my summer schedule so that I work late one night a week and take Fridays off. This way, I am able to enjoy a few days by the pool and get some projects around the house done.
9. Keep your workspace organized. For me, this involves breaking down boxes when print orders come in, keeping paperwork and receipts filed neatly and correctly, putting everything in its place after prop runs for stock shoots. Let’s face it, being in charge of your own livelihood is stressful enough. Why add to the stress with a chaotic office space?
10. Interact with the World. This is a tough one for me. It’s been one of the biggest things I miss about my corporate job – getting up, picking out a cute outfit, doing my hair, and SOCIALIZING with actual human beings for 8 hours. Pick up the phone to talk to people instead of interacting solely through email. Schedule coffee and lunches with people in your network. Furthermore, let this expand outside of work as well. When a friend invites you to dinner, take them up on it and get out of the house. Better yet, how about YOU invite a friend to dinner! Don’t get caught in a rut where you’re not interacting with the outside world.
I’ve been doing this for 5 years, I’m no means an expert but I know the value of human interaction . Fellow entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms, and remote workers, what tips do you have? Teach me your ways!