So you’ve got a new job or you’re starting a new business – and you are going to do it all from home. How lovely! Or is it? Working from home is not always the sunnier option. If you are not careful, it can seep into every aspect of your life making all aspects merge into a slightly less efficient and unhappy homogenous lump. And it can be lonely. So, you need to think ahead and stay proactive. Here’s how.
Where are you going to base your office? Ideally, find somewhere that is warm in the winter, cool in summer and with good light. Consider how much storage/display space you need. What sort of desk and chair. It’s so important to get that last one right. This all sounds dull but all these things have a knock on effect. Can you shut the door and keep work contained in that room? Can you shut your family out?
Is your ‘Phone Line, Internet coverage good? If not, get boosters etc sorted early on.
Home Insurance – does it cover you to work at home?
Storage – do you have somewhere secure to store files and kit?
Planning your daily life
As I said in the introduction, working from home can make personal and business life blur into one unsatisfactory lump. This is in the short term unsatisfactory and unproductive and in the long term, unhealthy for you and for your family. So, you need boundaries. There is a great belief that entrepreneurs and those working alone work hard – and I would not dispute that. But are we all working ‘smart’? It is so important to stick to a workmanlike routine. Just because you are not commuting to an office with a team and all the energy and motivation that produces, it doesn’t mean you can let go of all the usual rules! You need to think carefully about:
- What are your working hours going to be (or what will you be aiming for) each day?
- What are your other commitments throughout the week? How do you see your own availability for family tasks eg school runs, vet visits, weekly shop etc. These are things you need to balance with your family and discuss with them.
- There may need to be an element of compromise here and there. After all, they might be giving up a room for your new office or having to make other changes now you are around more.
- Your availability – to your business, your employers, employees, clients AND FAMILY. In other words, if an employee cannot knock on your office door out of hours, they in theory shouldn’t be able to reach you at home out of hours. Same for your family and everyone else. But that needs considering and talking about with your family from the start.
Managing Your Time Effectively
This is down to personal habit and motivation. But you can help yourself a great deal. Things to consider include:
- Having a daily or weekly to do list that you actually diarise
- Establishing key priorities (not all tasks are equally important or urgent and there is a difference between importance and urgency)
- Establishing key goals – achievable but demanding
- The Pareto Rule – 80/20
By having clear goals and targets (broken down to manageable and realistic pieces) you are making it much easier for yourself to remain motivated. I’m going to talk about that separately in another post later in the year but for now, to help you stay motivated, I want to suggest creating your own network of people to talk to about your work. This is especially important if you are staring your own business so are doing it all alone. A few years ago, I set up a group called Dialogue with a neighbour. Like me, she was running her own business on her own. We opened it up to women in this area who worked either solo or with fewer than a team of 4. We met regularly to discuss which insurance company we would recommend or work through how one of us might market an event. That sort of thing. It was great as it provided each of us with the energy and motivation you would normally get from working in a team or at an office. It doesn’t need to be more than a couple of friends or colleagues in similar situations who can meet on line or in person for 30 minutes on a regular basis to talk about issues and ideas. Simple but very, very helpful.
And finally… a few small points
You may not be expecting to see anyone else that day but I think sitting at your desk in your dressing gown doesn’t help you work in an efficient or effective way. It’s all part of those boundaries. I’m not suggesting you should march off to your office in your finest Chanel suit (although if that’s your thing, go for it) but dress appropriately. If you want people to respect your business and your effort, it helps to look the part as well as play the part.
Dogs (or other noisy animals). There’s nothing more distracting if you are on a video conference or ‘phone call than your dog giving it their all in the background. Same applies to children. Remember Prof Robert Kelly?!
In conclusion, everyone’s situation is different so this is a skeleton structure to give you something to think about. For the next few weeks, I will be picking a few points from this and talking about them on my Instagram page in a short video every Monday. Come and follow me there – @alicejohnsenlifecoach. If you want to run ideas past me or ask me questions specific to your own business, please contact me in the usual way: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07961 080513.