Edit – I wrote this post many years ago, when I was working from home long before the pandemic. I’ve republished it now as I thought it might help people that are now finding themselves working from home!
I’ve been working from home for a while now and I must admit it look me a long time to get used to it! When I first left the corporate world and started working for myself I really struggled. So much so that I rented office space for the first 6 months of my self-employed life because I just could not get anything done at home! I was so used to being in relaxation mode at home and work mode at the office.
Slowly I got used to working for myself and not having a boss managing my schedule for me. I got busier and I didn’t have enough time to get all my work done at the office so I started doing some work at home. After about 6 months of being self employed I found that I was able to work from home without getting distracted by the tv/washing/bed/food/etc. The idea of not having to put a bra on or drive to the office to work seemed pretty appealing to me so I decided to work from home full time. This time around I found that I could do it! And it was awesome!
Here’s how I did it….
1. Set office hours
Having clear office hours makes it a lot easier to know when to switch to work mode and when to switch off. Some people find it hard to avoid all the distractions and get started on the work, other people feel like they should be working all the time and find it hard to switch off. I do both! Having set office hours makes it easier to know what to prioritise. Pile of dishes? Too bad, you’ve got to be at your desk ready to start work in 5 minutes so they’ll just have to wait. But of course life happens so these hours should be seen more as a guideline rather than a strict rule, sometimes you have to do overtime to meet deadlines, and you also deserve to take some time off from time to time!
2. Have a dedicated ‘work zone’
I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office set up in my house where I do the majority my work. This has helped me to train my brain to go into work mode as soon as I walk through my office door. I know everyone isn’t lucky enough to have their own office, and that’s OK. Your work zone can be your desk, or a specific chair at your dining room table, or a coffee shop, or you could create some kind of pre-work ritual so you can enter into a mental work zone (eg. walk up the street and back into your house so you can mentally pretend that you’ve left your house and walked to your office.)
Working from home can be really isolating. I’m lucky that I’m an introvert and I love spending time by myself, but even I still need to get out and socialise from time to time for the sake of my mental health. When you’re working in an office environment it’s easy to have social interaction with other people, when you work for yourself it’s a lot harder. Joining a mastermind group, attending networking events, and going to co-working days and other events designed for people that work form home are all great ways to get some social interaction and can benefit your business too!
4. Be clear with friends and family
Unfortunately most people don’t understand self-employment. Cultural conditioning has many people believing that you have to have a 9-5 job, and anything that deviates from that isn’t real work. You really need to be clear with friends and family that you do in fact have a have a real job, with real work, and real office hours, and they need to understand that you’re not available during those hours.
Getting exercise is so important for both your physical and mental health, but it’s so much easier to fall into the trap of not doing any exercise when you work from home. When I worked in an office I had to walk to the bus stop, and then to the office, and then I’d go for a walk on my break to buy lunch. It was great because I was forced to get exercise every day. But now that I work from home, I literally just walk from my bedroom, to my kitchen, to my desk. But with discipline you can still get exercise. Start your day with 5 minutes of exercise before sitting down at your desk, schedule little exercise breaks through the day. I use the Pomodoro method and do star jumps during every break period (yes really).