When your home becomes your work place
When you buy your dream house, you think of the perfect paint colors, the right furniture, and the pond in the backyard (maybe that’s just Bill). You don’t always think about your home office and the needs you’ll have for it. More and more people are choosing to telecommute to work and are officing from home. The rewards are great (casual wardrobe, setting your own hours, flexibility, and lower gas bills). However, there are some unique challenges to working from home, as well. Our daughter wrote an article about working from home as a young mom. And since we both work from home, we thought we’d add a few things.
Tips for separating your home from your office
- The lay-out: Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you don’t have an office for yourself. Whether it’s a guest bedroom, a large closet, a corner of the living room, or a physical study, you need a space that is yours and that you can count on having access to.
- Have 9-5 access for interaction with “normal” people. While you can set your own hours, you still need to consider the fact that phone calls, meetings, conferences (anything having to do with people) have to happen at a time in which normal people conduct business. So, make your calls 9-5, and save computer work, etc. for the wee hours of the morning or the late night.
- Dress for your job. Even though you are at home, it might be worth taking into account that dressing for your job can help you remain professional. Yes, I can make my calls in my pjs, but I’m more likely to do a better call if I’m dressed as if I were at a stereotypical office. Plus if I end up arranging to meet someone to show them a house, it’s better to already be dressed for the occasion.
- Set aside time for rest and for a break. Working from home can be consuming. It’s easy to start earlier than 9 and work considerably past 5, and that’s okay. However, doing that every day is not. Set aside reasonable break times for coffee, lunch dates, movies,hobbies, church, and dates with your spouse, etc. It’s your choice how often and for how long, but make sure you give yourself time to process and enjoy what you’re working for. Otherwise you’ll likely get burned out.
- Be “social”. Many work-from-homers find that they miss the camaraderie and familiarity of the office. It might be nice to give yourself a coffee break while you check personal email, call a friend, or read this a fun blog. You’d take a break in an office- give yourself the same perk at home. (p.s. Who knew there were so many a’s in camaraderie?)
- Block out distractions. On the flip side, limit these perks and control your work schedule so it doesn’t control you. Just like you schedule “you time,” make sure you block off time for work calls, emails, and whatever other work you do. It’s too easy to pitter patter around the house and never actually accomplish anything. If you find yourself easily distracted (neighbors, spouse, children, phone, etc.). consider white noise.
- Set goals. Be your own manager and ensure that you are always looking ahead optimistically. Don’t be obsessed or unreasonable, but balance that with perseverance and hard work.
Hope that helps- after years of working from home (both of us even in the same home, at the same time!), we have found these tips to be helpful. Please pass them along!