Chances are, if you’re building a business from the ground up, you’re not going to be working out of a swanky office. Most likely, you’re working from home. The downside to working where you live, eat and rest is that there are a lot of distractions to keep you from productivity. When you’re working from home, there’s a big temptation to check the refrigerator, run errands for the kids or get sidetracked by household chores. Fortunately I mapped out a five point strategy plan that you can use to banish the distractions and balance yourself so you can successfully work from home:
This might seem obvious, but often people quickly lose discipline when working from home. With no boss watching you, no set schedule or any of the other controls that come from working in an office environment, YOU must provide the structure. Work set hours, have a designated work place that is all business, and hold yourself accountable for deadlines and schedules. If you don’t, you can quickly find yourself not being effective at all.
Let’s be honest, when working from home there can be a lot of distractions. The internet, TV, phone, video games, family, household chores, and so much more are there, in your face, and vying for your attention. But, you have to create an environment and mindset where work time is just that, WORK TIME. If you allow yourself to get in the habit of injecting other household things into your workday, the lack of focus will be detrimental to your work. It is okay to have break times and down time, but keep them on a tight schedule, and do not deviate. Try “clocking in” the time for when you’re actually working. For example: record how much time it takes when you go on bathroom breaks, being able to see how much time you’re wasting on paper will get you to stop procrastinating!
Whether you are reporting to yourself, or to a company you work for, you have to be accountable. This means reports or spreadsheets of how you are spending your time, regular communication with the boss, coworkers, and/or clients that demonstrate you are spending your time wisely and effectively. Failure to do so will not only create issues with those you work for and with, but will result in people underestimating your value to the organization and your contributions to success. “Keep score” and you’ll find yourself setting goals, motivating yourself to do more and you’ll end up feeling and performing more efficiently.
Often when people plan to work at home for the first time, they do not properly plan to do so. They just assume that it will be easy to get things done. No commute, no boss breathing down their neck and the comfort of home leads them to believe that working in one’s pajamas will be an easy thing. Yet in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. You need to have set work hours, create a designated workplace, and you have to plan how you will utilize, manage and report your time spent working. Simply sitting down and writing this all out is a great way to make sure you get off to a great start that will not lead to bad habits and mismanagement further down the road. Obviously, one of the attractive facets of working at home or for yourself is flexibility, and when appropriate, it is ok to take time off for family and personal matters. Just try to make sure you plan it ahead rather than just taking time off whenever you feel like it.
When you set out to start working from home it is critical that you have the support of your friends, family, or anyone else that you live with or who spends a lot of time in your home. This is even more important if you have children. You have to have a serious conversation with those you are close to about your expectations, boundaries, and why it is important that these are met to ensure you are successful. You need your family to support you, but it is upon you to show and demonstrate how they can best do so. Creating the right expectations from the start will allow you to be successful working from home, and to have a strong relationship and support structure with those you care about most. If your children are old enough to understand, let them know that you’ll need a certain time block in the day to focus on work. Set it up so that they’ll be preoccupied with homework or other activities when you know you’ll be at your busiest. Coordinate with your family so your schedules work together instead of clash.