There are a lot of benefits to running your business from home. Huge savings on overheads for one, the flexibility of working to your own schedule and the general home comforts you just miss in an office environment. Plus, being able to work all day in your pyjamas.
But sometimes it can be difficult to get yourself going in the morning, to manage your time effectively or even to focus at all with so many things to distract you. Between answering the door for the postman, making sure the washing is on for the 5th time that week or looking after the dog, you can find the days fly by without really getting anything done for your business.
But don’t fret! It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make working from home work for you. To give you a helping hand (because we’re nice like that), we’ve got a few tips to help you get your ass in gear and stay productive when you’re working from home.
Create A Workspace Just For You
It’s called a ‘home office’ for a reason, which is something many people forget. Working from your bed or sofa may not be a great idea, because you’ll be tempted to sleep or relax instead. Working in your living room might seem tempting, but you’ll only end up binge watching The Office on Netflix and not get anything done.
Instead, create yourself a designated, just for you working space. It doesn’t have to be a whole room, but it does need to be a distraction-free area that isn’t used for any other purpose. This will help you focus and give you an environment you can control and change to help you be your most productive. It could be the spare room, the summer house in the garden or a desk set up in the kitchen. Wherever it is, it’s yours, and yours alone, for work.
Establish A Routine
Human beings are creatures of habit, and we often work best when there is some sort of routine in place. Without supervision and structure, even the best of us will slack off, so make sure you build a workable routine for you. I recommend starting the day as you would if you were in an office; get up early, get dressed (properly, not just PJ’s or yoga pants no matter how comfy they are) and try to avoid distractions once you sit down to work. Whether you just started working from home or you’ve been doing it for years, it can take a few weeks to determine the best rhythm and break times for you during the day. For example, some people find the traditional 9-5 works best for them, while others will start at the ungodly hour of 5am and finish around 4 instead. Whatever routine works for you, make sure you write it into a schedule and stick to it. And remember to give yourself permission for downtime, and take it – you’re only human after all!
Use Task Lists
When you’re working for yourself, or working from home, there is often an extra pressure to work hyper productively, just to prove you aren’t being lazy and slacking off. But this stress can mean that you forget things, which is where to-do lists can save you. First thing Monday morning, put aside 10 minutes and write a list of everything you need to do for the week, and arrange it in priority order. You could use pen and paper for this, but I prefer using a spreadsheet, or resources like Trello and Todoist instead because they are available anywhere and keep your workspace clear of clutter (which just creates more distractions). This little exercise means you can prioritise your day in your head and make sure you don’t forget anything. Seriously, if you’re not keeping lists already, do it. It will change everything.
Isolation is a big risk when working from home, and this feeling can lead to lowered productivity and motivation. So even if you don’t do work that requires face-to-face contact with others, make sure you put some effort into staying connected and actually speaking to another human being at least once a day. Schedule regular coffees and meetings with clients or colleagues. Get involved with professional organisations, utilise social media and hold discussions by phone call instead of email. This not only means you are visible outside of your home, but it will help you stay motivated and positive to combat loneliness. Plus you won’t get cabin fever and end up asking the dog for business advice.
It can be really tempting to work flat out when you have a lot to do, especially if you’re working from home. But while this might feel productive at first, you will quickly find yourself burning out and not able to do anything at all for days. Instead, make sure you take regular ‘brain breaks’. Studies have shown that the most productive workers will work intently for around 52 minutes, and then take a 17-minute break. These breaks can be as simple as staring out of the window, reading the paper or taking a stroll around the garden. Your brain is just like any other muscle – it needs rest breaks to function properly, so make sure you take them, even if you feel like you can’t.
At Your Admin Hub, we understand the difficulties of working from home – because we do it a lot ourselves! Keeping on top of everything can feel impossible at times, but through years of struggling we’ve found that the best way to keep yourself productive is to have an organised structure to your day. That way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds and really make the most of the work-life blend, and the flexibility that comes of being your own boss. If you need a hand organising your work days, or just your office, you know where to find me (at home, with coffee in hand and dog in lap).