Telecommuting and remote offices have provided abundant opportunities for solo entrepreneurs, executives, and management professionals. The flexibility to work from basically anywhere with your computer, internet, and keen attitude for getting stuff done. This rising trend of working remotely has its perks and well, its valleys. For those that thrive on productivity, work-life balance, and bringing home the bank from working in the comforts of their choosing, remote offices is where it is at. However, just as such, many can agree, there are disadvantages that can also get in the way of consistently remaining productive and not becoming too immersed in work.
This post hits home strategies, that the at work from home rock-star, can use to maintain balance and productivity.
- Get dressed to impressed. Working in your PJ’s in one thing, but creating a behavior of not caring to take care of yourself, because you’re working in the comforts of your own home and no one will see you, will get old. You may think you’re saving time by not getting ready to start the day by doing the traditional dress to impress office setting, and yes, you may be saving time, but you should really make the time to take care of you and feel refreshed. Feeling refreshed may vary person to person, but the key is to be at a comfort level, so that if your webcam accidentally went off while chatting with a client or executive, you wouldn’t like a caveman with hair that hasn’t been combed or God only knows what you’re wearing kind of outfit. Not only that, when one puts everything else in front of taking care of oneself, even with the simple step of getting ready, then it can set the stage for other not so healthy behaviors that at some point will boil over and impact both one’s work and personal life. Furthermore, studies show that when one takes care of him/herself that he/she is more productive, energized, and alert.
- Create your office space, and that is only your office space. Working from home shouldn’t replace your home like atmosphere. Creating a home office that fits with what you need to get your job done. As such, make the time to draft out your office: identify the key equipment and tools that you need, make the space, organize your equipment and office that flows with what you need and is easily accessible. For example, if you have a whiteboard – make sure it’s in a spot that you can see and use it. Same thing with your calendars, project management charts, and other key information that continuously need.
- Create a schedule, stick to it, but also have flexibility to control changes. Every person is different, so every office will be different. The bottom line is having what you need, where you need it, and that your office energizes you. Studies show that clean, organized, and well laid out offices help to start, stay productive, and close out of your day. Furthermore, it also helps with life-balance. When you’re done with work, close your office door. Stay away from the office – it may be hard at first, but your dog, partner, and family will appreciate the balance and priority that provide by compartmentalizing work and the rest of your life.
- Take breaks, yes, real breaks that are away from your office. As a somewhat newbie to the whole work from home, solo entrepreneurial spirit, I can relate to this tip completely. It is so easy to start the day 6AM and not finish until 7 or 8PM. This is just dumb. Seriously, you need to schedule breaks for yourself, and not get too caught up with the trap of working from home. Otherwise, your home will turn into an overall home office. A place where one would look forward to relaxing in the evening is now a 24/7 coffee shop that only serves projects, emails, phone calls, and webinars. Build a schedule that works for your productivity. In today’s wicked awesome marketplace, you don’t have to have the standard 8AM-5PM. You can create your schedule. Think about times in which you’re the most productive. For some that may be a from 5AM – 2PM, 7-4PM, 2-10PM, 10-4AM or whatever. Whatever it is create a schedule that works for you, your clients, and maximizes your energy. If you’re not a morning person, why on Earth start your day at 8AM – it takes you three hours to reach you awaken state, but once you do, you’re on fire. Start on fire, and get jazzed up about your day – remember, you’re the boss of your schedule, when you start and finish is up to you. Take breaks to reward, reenergize, and refocus yourself throughout the day. Identify when you usually start to zone out, and build in breaks that fit your style. For example, I have breaks for frisbee with the dogs, yoga, and jiujitsu. After those breaks I feel refreshed, happier, and ready to get back to whatever it was that I paused before leaving.
- Clock out, check out, or whatever you want to call it, at the end of the day. You need to hear this, and perhaps, you’ve heard it before, but still haven’t let it sink in. There is always going to be something that need to get done. Relax. That is what it is. In order to have a balance of working from home, you must be able to close the office door for the day and step away from work. It is so easy to stay plugged into work 24/7, especially for solo entrepreneurs. Your psyche will thank you. If not, one day, you will find yourself so burnt out that you want to say forget it to everything. Don’t let that happen to you. You can design your work-life however you see fit, but the key is to design with a realistic understanding that you must be able to close the office door and compartmentalize your work life from your personal life. Perhaps, that won’t work for some because of their exhaustive passion for getting it all done all the time – that is totally fine, however, for many that is setting oneself up for a major professional burnout and/or putting personal relationships at an unnecessary jeopardy.
In essence, working from home is such an awesome opportunity and flexibility that many would love to have, and it is a rising trend across the board. However, just as working from home has its advantages, it also has some pitfalls. Pitfalls that are totally avoidable. The key is to be open, frank, and specific as to how those pitfalls could apply to you, and creating boundaries and actions that set you up for success. Taking care of you, creating your office space, making a schedule that works for your peak productivity mindset, taking breaks that energize you, and clocking out at the end of your day are all strategies to help you thrive in your home office.
Cheers to you work from home warriors – keep rocking productivity and profits by the beat of your own drum!
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by Katie Doseck, Ph.D.
Chief Visionary and Strategic Ace Up Your Sleeve | Viral Solutions LLC