by Erin Smith
Working from home seems like the ultimate wish where you never have sit in horrible traffic, talk to people who you really don’t like to, and spend hours getting ready (and even dressed).
When I initially started working from home, I’m going to be honest, I got a little swept up in an ‘E -True Hollywood Stories’ marathon that I had to slap myself out of. Work wasn’t super busy, and I felt like the Sarah Jessica Parker story was calling my name.
After snapping out of it, I got the groove down and have found working from home to be a definite art, that when done right can take advantage of the hours you’re gaining from no daily travel and prep time.
1. Don’t Skip the Prep Time
Believe me, I understand how tempting it is to roll out of bed and work from your pajamas, but there have actually been studies that have shown how we dress has a direct impact on how we think and perform.
One 2012 study showed how simply wearing a lab coat could affect how people performed and how they perceived themselves.
Your performance matters, probably, even more, when you’re working from home and out of the daily eye of your clients. Therefore it becomes even more important that you do all that you can to give yourself the advantage of performing at your best.
2. Set Intentional Timers For Yourself & Have a Separate Space
I found this the hardest when I started almost exclusively working from home. At an office, it’s a typical practice where you shut down a computer, and you’re officially done for the day. That doesn’t happen when you’re in an office setting. There’s never that shut down moment where you get to walk away and officially be done.
Because of that, it becomes harder to create that line when work is officially over. I would work through all hours of the night because work was just there, and I tend to have work-a-colic tendencies.
I had to create boundaries throughout my house. Although it was tempting on cold and rainy days, working from my bed wasn’t going to happen. I had to get up and head into my office. The computer stayed in the office and work wasn’t something that happened whenever I felt like it
This also helps with all of your home’s to-do tasks staring you down while you’re trying to get work done. Working from the kitchen? Ah, you’ll find that sink full of dirty dishes will call your name more than you would like. Working from the living room? Well, the dust and the need to vacuum will become much more important than that one last task you really should finish.
Not only will your space boundaries help you to say no, but time boundaries will also help you get more accomplished AND get the dishes done if that’s what you decide to do. I love setting 50-minute time slots, a trick I learned from a mentor of mine. I set 50 minutes to focus on getting specific work completed, with the intention set before those 50 minutes begin of what I’m going to work on.
Then once it’s over, I give myself a 10-15 minute break to walk around, work on the house task that’s been driving me insane, or just even to go out for a walk and clear my mind.
The amount of work I can accomplish during those short sprints is pretty amazing, especially when I’m not allowing myself to take on the tasks that are distracting me.
3. Get Out of the House
Warning: Working from home may cause loneliness.
I know what you’re thinking. We’re talking about working from home, and I’m trying to encourage you to actually leave your home. But the house, if you’re not careful, will become all-encompassing and really begin to wear on you.
Plan lunches with friends and/or co-workers. See if you can work from your favorite coffee shop for a few hours. Take a 30-minute break to take a walk outside. If you have an office to go to, plan a trip to stop in every now and then just to take that break. This time away will become crucial to your sanity (see the E-True Hollywood Stories reference above).
I personally know that working in new areas spurs my productivity and creativity, so it’s something I schedule several times per week, especially if I am heads down on a project.
It’s crucial that you find some sort of balance and routine to truly optimize getting work done, and the best way to do this is to schedule time outside of your home and office.
Working from home can be an incredible way to save time and money, but if not done carefully, you could end up unshowered for weeks, never leaving your office, and feeling alone. So make sure you seek out the balance!
Erin Smith is a serial entrepreneur who has started and sold several businesses and now teaches business owners how to amplify their business through digital marketing and basic business fundamentals.
She is the owner of several businesses, best-selling author, speaker, podcaster, dog rescuer, and mother of 2.