I’m one of those weird people who, straight out of college decided that I would work for myself, at home, and that was that. It started out with my main business and hobbies in music, and soon enough required assistance from other side projects here and there. Since then, 12 years have passed, and while I may not be running the same business, I’m still working for myself, and from home. I really couldn’t imagine it any other way.
In the last few years, there’s been a big transition in several workplaces to have employees transition into working at home. Many people struggle with unforeseen challenges faced once they make that transition, self-employed or not.
Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:
Designate a workspace
Create a separate workplace in your home where you’ll be setting up shop. Even in a 400sqft apartment, this can still be done. It’s important that you’re not working where you sleep or relax. Having that mental distinguishment of a place where you work can be a very useful tool.
Start a to-do list and calendar
It can be a good idea to have both a big picture and smaller, more focused picture to look at each day. If you sit down for work when a blank slate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up accomplishing nothing. At the end of each workday, create your to-do list for the next day. Put your more long-term goals onto a calendar so you can reference back and make sure you’re staying on track for major goals.
Wake up early
I find some of the best work I get done early before the distractions of the day set in. I sit down with a cup of coffee and start working on some of the more focus-required tasks. It can really help your sense of accomplishment when you can knock things off your to-do list before 10am.
Save phone calls for the afternoon
Not only can it be hard to focus and chat first thing in the morning, but it can also create a snowball of distractions from your daily goals. If you can, set up calls for the afternoon, after you’ve had a chance to knock some items off of your list.
Let your housemates know your expectations
Especially when you live with roommates, it’s important to explain your work-from-home situation. Just because you are physically there, doesn’t mean that you’re around to hang out, do chores, ect. And it definitely doesn’t mean you won’t be bothered by their impromptu band practice in the living room.
We all reach a point where we are mentally drained. While it can be easy to eat lunch and keep working through it, that’s not best for you or your productivity.
Pick a clear end time
With work there is always something more you could have done. If you work until there is nothing else to do… well… you can’t. Refer back to your to-do list and refresh it for the morning.