Top tips on successfully working from home
More and more people are working from home nowadays, running small businesses. I see this all the time with my clients who are taking the plunge: leaving behind the day job and setting up on their own. As a coach I spend a lot of my time working from home too, with phone and Skype coaching being part of my work.
On the one hand it's great to work from home - you can manage your time yourself- but on the other it can be hard to either stay focused or shut out work.
These are my top tips:
Have a dedicated space. If at all possible, have a room where you can close the door to interruptions. If your budget permits, consider renting an office on a short-term lease, perhaps sharing the space with someone else, or renting space in a hub for start-up companies.
Have a phone that is just for your work. This can be a mobile or a landline. It is much more professional to know who you are talking to - either your best friend or a potential customer/client. Likewise, have a voicemail message that shows you are a business.
Keep to office hours with clients. You will need to use your judgement on this, but if you receive emails or voicemail messages late in the evening or on a Sunday, don't feel pressurised to respond then; no one seriously expects you to reply (unless it's a current client and it's very important) and it can make you look too available and a bit desperate.
Keep the dogs and kids quiet! This goes hand in hand with having a dedicated space. It's not professional to conduct a phone conversation with household noises in the background. Better to delay the call than compete with a barking dog or a crying baby. You should also manage people ringing your doorbell with deliveries which will be an unprofessional intrusion during an important call.
Create structure to your day. One bonus of working from home is you can work when you want and take a break when you want. The downside is that you may be distracted; it's easy to just pop a load of washing on, do some online shopping or chat to friends online. Be focused. Allow yourself a break in the day but don't waste time on non-work activities.
Set boundaries for friends and family. Your friends may think that, as you are at home, they can call you for a chat at any time. This is a big distraction. Either explain to them that you work office hours even at home, or use voicemail to pick up their calls and only respond when it suits you.
Create some work/life balance. You might like to break up the day with a brisk walk or a trip to the gym, which may well improve your health and productivity, and work later into the evening, but give yourself a cut-off point. It's easy when working at home to feel that you never ever get away from work. This is why a self-contained study or work space helps, but you can also mentally distance yourself from work. Set yourself a cut-off time and stick to it for 90 per cent of the time.
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About Glynis Kozma
Glynis is a qualified coach with ten years' coaching experience, after a long career in education. She works with clients on career and lifestyle changes. Glynis is also a writer who has had two self-help books published and writes as a freelancer on education, careers and higher education for several national broadsheets.