The idea of working from home may sound like a dream come true. You can get up whenever you want. You can work on your timeline as opposed to answering to a supervisor or manager. And you can work at your own pace, right?
The fact is, however, that working from home poses its own special set of challenges. If you want to work from home, you have to be willing—and able—to work with a sense of discipline and dedication.
You need to ignore the inevitable distractions that come with working at home as opposed to working in an office environment. Without discipline, “work” gets put off, and suddenly you aren’t meeting your work goals. If you are going to work from home, you need to develop these ten guidelines for yourself.
1. Get up at the same time every day.
Getting up every day at the same time will lend itself to creating—and keeping—to a schedule. Having a schedule is critical to your success as a telecommuter or an entrepreneur working from home.
2. Create a morning ritual.
A morning ritual will allow you to set the right tone for the day. For some, the morning ritual could include reading the morning paper along with eating a good breakfast. For others, the morning ritual could include going for a morning run. For others, it might include meditating in order to get the day off to a good start. Whatever your ritual may be, observe it so that it will help you to start the day feeling like you are ready to tackle the workload for the day.
3. Create a daily schedule.
Along with clear goals, you need to schedule your work each day as well. A schedule provides routine that you will need if you aren’t going to end up at the end of each day wondering where the time went. Avoid making appointments for personal things like haircuts or spa treatments during the workday unless you plan to make up for that time later.
4. Set up a separate work area in your home.
Working at the kitchen table isn’t a good idea and setting up a workstation in your bedroom or family room is not acceptable either. Set up a location that is going to be your “workspace,” and to the extent that it is possible, set up that space away from all family activity.
5. Set specific work goals.
Set specific goals for the day, the week, and the month. Your work goals should be specific to the objectives you need to meet, whether they include specific projects or individual financial goals. Regardless of the particular goals you have set, hold yourself accountable, and create benchmarks to help create a sense of short-term successes.
6. Do not work in the bedroom.
Keep the bedroom separate and apart from your work. Create office space in a spare bedroom or den if you can. Set up a work area anywhere in the house except your bedroom. Your bedroom is for sleeping, resting, and getting away from work.
7. Turn the TV off.
TV is a distraction even if you only have it on for noise or for “company.” During work hours, keep the television off.
8. Establish appropriate boundaries with family members while you are working.
If a part of the reason you are working from home is so you can save on daycare costs, that is fine. Establish boundaries and create a routine, however, that everyone—including you—will respect.
9. Don’t forget to take short breaks every couple of hours.
When you work at home, you don’t have others stopping at your desk to engage in idle conversation or to ask you go out to lunch. While that may be a good thing in some respects, it also means that you are responsible for taking work breaks on your own.
And make no mistake… taking breaks is necessary if you are going to be fully functional and productive. Take a break mid-morning, at lunchtime, and again in the afternoon. Research supports the need for taking periodic breaks from the desk for longer-term health and productivity.
10. Don’t work when you are supposed to be spending time with your family or friends.
Developing a sense of work-life balance can become more of a challenge if you work from home, so you will have to be very intentional about setting time aside for family just as you must be intentional about creating your work schedule. No one can work all of the time and stay optimally productive. Your brain needs variety in order to stay sharp, so develop balance.
Working from home can be a wonderful solution for young moms with newborns or preschool children. It can also be a great solution for individuals who are mid-career and want the flexibility of working from home instead of commuting to the office everyday and losing precious time to the commute. (You don’t have to be a working parent to enjoy working from home.) Make no mistake, however, that working from home takes discipline and dedication if you plan to get things done and be successful.
About the author
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a Certified Life Strategies and Stress Management Coach and is an ICC at CareerHMO. Visit her coaching page here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CareerHMO coach. You can learn more about coach posts here.
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