When I mention to people that I work from home, they most often tell me that they would love to do that.
Or they tell me how lucky that I am that I can work around my children, but every now and then, I get those who look me in the eye and seriously ask me how I get anything done.
Usually, I sigh and nod my head while telling them that it can be difficult and it’s not as easy as most people think.
In saying that, there are a few different strategies that I have used to create structure and routine in my home office. Let me share them with you and maybe they will help you in your search for structure.
Get Up and Get Dressed
Ok, so that sounds like a no brainer, but how often have you seen those funny memes with people staying in their pajamas for days on end and working from the sofa.
People find them hilarious..... because we’ve been there! You need to get up, have a shower, get yourself dressed - maybe not as dressy as you would if you were working in an office, but so that you are comfortable and presentable. I have found that I work better when I am dressed nicer.
Some days I’ll put on makeup, even though I’m not leaving the house - it’s all in how it makes you feel about yourself while you are working. Oh... and eat a good breakfast too, that’ll mean you don’t sneak back to the kitchen later!
Create a Workspace
It’s easy to get into the habit of working on the dining room table or hanging on the sofa with your laptop - but please, STOP. Spend some time and create a designated workspace, make it pretty, make it so that you want to go to work.
Our home has a formal lounge that is a bit separated, so I have claimed that as my studio. I have my desks set up with my Macs, book cases, a sofa and of course (because I work around a toddler) I have a TV and DVD player & quiet toys (nothing that makes noise..lol!). Despite the toddler paraphernalia, it feels and looks like an office. A homely place of work.
Set Hours & Boundaries
So you have got up, had a shower, got dressed and had breakfast - maybe you walked the dog then had a coffee too. This could have taken you 30 minutes or you could eek it out and not start work until midday. You need to set yourself some office hours!
Yes, that’s right, set yourself specific working hours. I generally work from 9-9:30am until 5pm from Mon-Fri. That is time spent at my computer working and/or liaising with clients.
I also have client boundaries in which I make it very transparent that these are my contactable hours. I don’t reply to emails after that time and I do not work on weekends.
Come the end of the day/week, I leave my studio, turn the lights off and I don’t go back in until the next day or after the weekend.
Doing this has been a lifesaver for me - for my family and for my marriage.
Having boundaries is so important to not letting your work consume you!
Plan your Day
Planning your day seems so simple, yes, everyone thinks ahead to what they might do during their day, but I challenge you to actually write down what you are planning to accomplish.
Write down your jobs in order of priority being mindful of what tasks are involved and then work towards achieving them.
Also plan in some breaks away from the computer - have your lunch outside in the fresh air.
If you are working around small children, taking small 10 minute breaks to give your little ones uninterrupted time with you, will have them feeling good and ready to play solo for while, so that you can do work in larger blocks of time.
This is my biggest tip for working at home (or in general really). Schedule some white space into your week - unplanned time that is blocked out. This allows for the unexpected (an urgent job, a sick child, errands that need to be run), without the accompanying stress of ‘not having enough time’.
Connect with REAL People
I love my Social Media peeps. Some of my best friends are online, but you really need to make sure that you get out and meet with real life people.
Go to the gym or for a walk.
Do some errands in the middle of the day so you can mix with people, don’t get stuck in the isolation trap.
I have been known to take myself out for breakfast or lunch and label it a staff meeting... yes, just me.... but at least I’m out talking with people. Get out and smile at people... they will always smile back!
You may do some of all of these things already or you may do none of them. Find what works for you and for your family + business. Set a structure or routine that suits you. Write it down on paper if you need to, stick it to your mirror.
Get some perspective in your life and start thriving.