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How to Successfully Work From Home

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:

1. Discipline

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.

2. Focus

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!

3. Accountability

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.

4. Planning

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.

5. Support

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.

Bryan JaneczkoFounder, Wicked Start
Bryan has successfully launched multiple startups. His latest venture, Wicked Start, provides tools to plan, fund, and launch a new business. Also author of WickedStart: Guide to Starting a New Venture with Passion and Purpose, Bryan is committed to helping small businesses grow and succeed. | Facebook | @WickedStart | LinkedIn | More from Bryan

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Discussion (4) Comment

  1. how to work at homeVisitor

    Get Support: Knowing how to work from home, and being able to stay focused on what needs to be done, takes the support of others. Starting a home business can be an overwhelming prospect. Having the support of family and friends to turn to is a must. There are also online forums with members going through what you are; take advantage of these support groups.

  2. GianniVisitor

    I want to be honest and say that working at home and managing all your freedom, strange to say but you are working more. This is what is happening to me since I signed up with an MLM company. Which has its own unique way to find people, simply by dividing with the world via internet a website they give you. Then I spend the days to create ways to do this. Check out my website and find out more.

  3. lynneVisitor

    My husband has been working from home for over twenty years as a Basketry Craftsman and I have been working from home for twelve years as a freelance designer. You have nailed it on the head with your article! I’d say one thing that was really bad that I did that hurt my productivity is having the tv on! I went through a phase where I turned on the tv everyday and said it was “background” noise. One day I simply turned it off and my focus increased immensely! I was able to go through projects more quickly!
    Lynne, a.k.a.

  4. I have been working mostly from home for a few years now and I have to say it took me a while to get myself to stick to set hours. Too often I was responding to late night e-mails and logging on to do work when I should have been taking some time for myself. No more! As I get busier, setting my hours is crucial to avoiding burnout. It also helps me maintain my focus because I know I won’t be able to get the work done after hours like I used to. No excuses! Great blog!


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