Working from home can be great! Until your home and work schedule collide and the kids are crying for attention; your business line keeps ringing; the washer overflows; and you realize that two projects are due in less than 24 hours! Suddenly, that dream job becomes a nightmare!
Is it really possible to be creative and productive at home, with distractions coming at you from every direction? Absolutely, say those who’ve done it successfully. The key is to use the flexibility of a home office to enjoy your home and work more, without letting either infringe on the other. Here’s how:
Create A Professional Work Environment
Don’t fall for the fallacy that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can work whenever you want. Schedule the time you will spend at your desk, making phone calls and meeting with clients. Regular office hours are essential if you want anyone (including yourself), to take your new working option seriously. Begin and end each workday at the same time. It’ll help you ready your mind for work, while giving everyone else around you a clear understanding of when you’re at work. Don’t allow family members to parade in and out of your office during these peak work hours. Refuse to answer private calls, and never answer the doorbell during work hours, unless you know it has something to do with work. Kindly remind intruders that you are busy at the moment and can not be disturbed.
Next, create a comfortable work environment. Set aside a specific space in our home for work. This will allow you to be more productive while working, yet leave “the office,” during off hours. Make sure you have the necessary equipment to do your job right. Update your office furniture, equipment, gadgets and accessories when needed. After all, you can’t do a professional job without the right tools.
Set A Schedule – And Stick To It!
Treat your days like every other professional. You wouldn’t saunter into the office at 11 a.m., and leave at 2 if you worked outside of the home, so why do it now? Working from home gives you more time and flexibility for your family, but don’t abuse it. Set a schedule – and stick to it – or your work hours will slowly start to creep into precious family time as deadlines loom and work goes undone.
Keep an ongoing list of projects and deadlines, and plan your schedule accordingly. Whether you work as an independent contractor, or under the auspices of a field office, you still need to stay on track if you want to remain successful, and keep your job.
Always Be Professional
Remain a top professional at all times. Act and sound as if you are in a regular office. Never let your clients know that you’re working from home. Keep background noise to a minimum when speaking on the telephone – and never, ever let your children answer your business line! Ditch the sweatpants and pajamas for more appropriate casual work attire. It’ll give you a sense of being at work, and help you stay focused at the job at hand.
Don’t Be A Stick-In-The-Mud
Working from home can be lonely. Guard against isolating yourself from the outside world: go out to lunch with friends; take a quick walk around the block. Go for a dip in your family’s hot tub. After all, isn’t the flexibility of enjoying your home and family one of the things that intrigued you about working from home in the first place? Enjoy your newfound freedom once in awhile, as long as it doesn’t stop you from getting your work done.
Working from home can be a struggle for any worker, but those with children may find it a juggling act that’s more stressful than they ever thought possible. Sometimes the quiet peacefulness of an office can seem even more appealing when you’re trying to meet a deadline with children underfoot. But, take heart: working from home with children IS possible, if you keep the following simple things in mind.
Kids Need Attention
Kids aren’t happy (or good at) keeping themselves occupied for hours on end. Schedule your work time during preschool hours, favorite TV times, nap/rest periods, or after everyone has gone to bed for the night. Another option: consider hiring a babysitter to come in and take over the children for a few precious hours each week. Older children may be able to entertain themselves when school’s out if you plan ahead. Set up craft and reading stations to keep them busy. The trick is to figure out what works best for your family.
Set The Ground Rules
Make sure that your entire family knows and understands the rules of the office. Be clear and firm about when you may be interrupted, and what is expected during working hours.
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Schedule home repairs and visits during after hours if possible. Don’t answer your private phone line, or answer the door during working hours. And never start a home project, or chore when you should be at your desk.
Remember, It’s a Real Job
Working from home can lull you into a false sense of security, thinking that you can “finish it later.” But later never comes, and before you know it you’ve missed an important deadline. Working from home doesn’t mean doing less work. It means coordinating work and home schedules a bit differently than you’re used to. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re trying to live and work in the same place. Take care to keep distractions at bay.
Working from home can allow you the flexibility to go on school field trips or skip out of the office early to enjoy a warm sunny afternoon in spring, but it does require careful planning. Take your job seriously, giving it the very best you have, and you’ll find that you can get more done than you ever thought possible – and in less time!