When I first started Wink Reports back in 2013 I had grand ideas, a decent plan, some cash in the bank to fall back on and a VERY supportive family. The chance to do things my way whilst working from home was irresistible.
The business did ok from the outset and colleagues were brought on board about a year later which is when it all really started to take off. Along the way I learned a few valuable lessons about how to work from home successfully, namely around routine, workspace and lifestyle.
Avoiding the daily commute has been a huge time saver for me. I’ve heard of some Sydney-based rat racers spending four hours per day travelling to and from work. No thanks!
When working from home, beware the temptation to sleep in. Not having to wake up at 5:30am doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Setting a daily alarm and getting yourself into the routine of waking up at the same time can have great benefits. Not only do you get your body-clock cranking, you can make great use of your morning time to exercise or to spend with your family.
The benefits of eating breakfast are well documented but making breakfast a part of your routine really enables you to focus through the day and will keep you from snacking on junk food the whole time. It’ll also keep snack food out of your workspace and get you into a good eating habit for the rest of your day.
Working from home can also save you some $$$ on work clothes. I’m guilty of having spent way too much on designer shirts and shoes over the years but you’ll still need some decent threads for meeting with prospects and customers. The temptation to stay in your flannel jammies and favourite slippers all day can be high. Dressing at least respectably can help to get you out of a homely mindset and into a working one.
Scheduling a lunch break each day will do wonders for your productivity, just as if you were at the office or on a job site somewhere. Having a scheduled meal break not only helps to avoid the temptation to snack but it also keeps you focused while providing some valuable switch-off time during your day.
So you’ve put in a big day, stuck to your guns schedule-wise and gotten through a tonne of work, why not kick on and burn the candle to prove to yourself this working from home thing is a walk in the park? Finishing your day at a time similar to that if you were working in an office or onsite somewhere is just as important as starting on time. Leaving time in the evening for family, a social life and/or exercise will keep you refreshed, focused and ready to do it all over again tomorrow without resentment!
Right from the get-go, I was disciplined enough to set aside a little corner of the house just for me where it was understood that it is my workspace, and it wasn’t to be used for anything else. I have things set up just how I like them and in a way that enables me to be as productive and comfortable as I can be.
However, some friends of mine who also work from home have had a different experience. Sure, getting up on time, having breakfast and being disciplined is all good, but why not just gravitate to the kitchen table and work there, that’ll do won’t it?
Do you have a side of the bed that’s yours or a seat in the lounge room that’s your spot? Why not a workspace that’s yours too? Identifying a nook in your home that’s yours for work and nothing else, I find, plays a big part in helping get my ‘work’ mojo on.
Another thing to consider with your workspace is the prevalence of distractions and temptations like TV, video games and other hobbies you have lying around. A lot of people ask me “how do you motivate yourself to actually work from home?” Motivation has never been an issue for me (and if you’re not motivated you really shouldn’t be doing it) but rather discipline to stick to the routine and stay focused has been the challenge. Removing distraction from your workspace can play a big part in being as productive as possible while working from home. Save the Call of Duty sessions for when EVERYTHING on your to-do list is done.
Work-life balance is a myth! If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life – right? I’m sure you’ve heard all the clichés around this but maintaining a sense of yourself is just as important as your routine and your workspace.
When I started working from home, the temptation began to keep working as I found I was getting through so much. For a while, I’d find myself still going at 10:00pm on a Saturday night. Suffice to say, my family wanted me around more, I was putting on weight and had a 17-day strong five-o’clock shadow – that point where it ceases to be stubble and becomes a quasi-beard.
Remembering that you are actually in your home while working there seems obvious but the ‘work’ element can take over your thinking without you realising it. After all, one of the reasons you’re working is to have a home to live in and enjoy isn’t it, unless you’re Sir Richard Branson and can do all this from your resort island. Sir Richard, if you’re reading this, please feel free to get in touch as we’d love a holiday there ;)
I’ve already mentioned getting into good eating habits (for obvious reasons) but some vitamin D and regular exercise is just as crucial to keeping you focused. My son was born around the time I started working from home and so I slowly introduced a walk around the neighbourhood in his pram, then a baby seat on my bike, then running with him down to the local soccer field to chase a ball around and finally him riding his own bike into our daily routine. Exercising together meant that we were also spending valuable time together, I was able to keep my weight under control as well as my family happy.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this post and can identify with some of these points. Who knows, maybe they’ll help you to work from home more effectively too. Let us know what you’ve found helps you to work from home!