More and more people are working from home these days, for many reasons. Some have been laid off from their corporate jobs and are trying to make ends meet, while others are taking a stab at leaving the rat race and becoming solopreneurs.
Whatever the reason for the transition, working from home can be more challenging than you might think.
AND ESPECIALLY, DRESS PROFESSIONALLY. IT WILL REMIND YOU, AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU, THAT ALTHOUGH YOU ARE AT HOME, YOU ARE STILL AT WORK.
If you work in a corporate office, more likely than not that space has been designed to keep you from getting distracted from doing anything but getting your job done. By contrast, you’ve probably set your home up with contrary goals in mind, especially if this is your first time working from home.
Odds are, there is plenty of “not work” to do at your house. When you were working at your 9-5, your home was where you went to forget about working. That has to change if you’re going to be productive.
So how do you make a smooth transition from corporate to home office?
Create a Productive Space
You need to create an office that you’ll want to be in. It’s worth investing some time and money in setting up a space that will free you from distraction and help your productivity level. Make sure your office is clean and clutter-free.
Invest in high-quality equipment, such as a comfortable chair, a good printer, and solid office supplies that really work. Don’t try to save money by buying cheap plastic staplers that require the strength of ten men. You want the kind you can shoot at people.
Set everything up so the things you need most are close at hand and well-organized. You shouldn’t have to tear a ligament to get to your filing cabinet, nor should there be any danger of accidentally hanging yourself with a stray printer cable.
Also, decorate your office in a non-distracting but inspiring way. We’re not going for anything dizzying here. A few choice decorations that will make you want to spend time in your office should suffice. Avoid things that you know might cause you to fidget. Instead of the Rubik’s Cube, go with the lava lamp. It might be tacky, but it’s visually stimulating, and it will burn you mercilessly if you play with it, so it’s an ideal choice.
Set a Schedule and Stick To It
This is extremely important for freelancers. If you don’t set a work schedule for yourself and be disciplined about keeping it, you’ll fall prey to the procrastination monster. “Just one more episode of Boardwalk Empire won’t hurt,” he’ll whisper, “after all, it’s only the 15th. You still have half a month to meet those deadlines. Don’t you want to know what happens next?”
Then you’ll press “play” and he’ll slither off down the garbage disposal and listen for the credits to roll, so he knows when to billow back out and start whispering again.
Only a hard and fast schedule has the power to ward off this insidious creature. Make one, and stick to it. Having a schedule will ease the strain on your home-life, as well. Having a time to work and a time do do other things is important. Then you won’t feel guilty for taking your partner to the movies, because you’ll have gotten your work done during… work time!
Work Outside Your Home
Just because you have a home office now, doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. You’re the boss now, remember? There are plenty of places where you can get work done. Take your notebook down to the park, or if you need Wi-Fi, maybe to the coffee house. Any place that is fairly quiet and comfortable should do just fine. Bonus points for biking or walking there. Exercise does wonders for your mood and focus.
Just make sure your office away from home isn’t too distracting, or you might fall prey to the procrastination monster’s step-cousin, the myriad-tentacled distractopus. If you find yourself playing frisbee with unfamiliar dogs and taking unscheduled breaks to shoot hoops, buckle down and get some work done, you slacker.
Don’t Let Yourself Go
It might be tempting when you’re working from home to get a little too laid back. Sure, you can relax your dress code and show off your awesome tattoo, and take breaks when you want them, but don’t get so comfortable working alone that you forget to keep up on yourself.
This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip about getting out once in awhile. Start a fitness regimen. It doesn’t have to be extreme. Start doing Yoga in the mornings before you work. Take some Kung Fu classes. Even taking a walk around the block will do wonders for your mood, and get your blood flowing.
Finally, and importantly, remember to remain professional. Act professionally. And especially, dress professionally. It will remind you, and everyone around you, that although you are at home, you are still at work.
And good luck!