If you’ve just taken the first step to starting up your own business, then you’re likely going to be spending a lot of days and nights in your spare bedroom or garage ‘office’ pouring over the details of your blossoming brand, so get used to the working from home lifestyle. It has a lot going for it: zero commute, no need to dress up and fewer distractions from colleagues. Working from home can result in a major productivity boost, but it also comes with its own set of challenges — at least for the inexperienced. Here’s how to do it successfully.
Make a schedule.
A great thing about working from home is that you have plenty of free time. Conversely, a terrible thing about working from home is that you feel like you should be working all the time.
Even though you’re not in an office, adopt the same mind-set by giving yourself designated work hours, like 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lunch break. Of course, you can allow yourself a little wiggle room, but try to stick to the schedule so you can reach your goals for the day.
If your day includes a lot of correspondence with other people, make sure you are available to communicate with them during these standard work hours, and give them notice of times when you’re away from your computer. It’s easy to feel like your flexible work hours mean you can get that order signed off at 10pm after dinner, but don’t forget that the people you are working with are probably keeping regular business hours and would benefit from you getting back to them before 6 p.m.
Set a routine.
It’s tempting to be the “anti-office” version of yourself while working from home: wearing your pyjamas all day, staying in bed and otherwise blurring the lines between a weekday and the weekend. But to be successful at working remotely, you need to take it seriously.
Adopt some healthy workday habits. Set your alarm in the morning so you’re getting started at a consistent time every day, a successful business can’t be built up if you’re living the student lifestyle! Brush your teeth, comb your hair and get out of your pyjamas. You don’t have to dress up, but changing your clothes really does change your mind-set. Respect your home workday, and you’ll feel better about yourself and get more accomplished.
Hard as it may be to stick to, you should try to stop work when your set work hours end. Starting up a business can feel like a 24/7 job, but for the sake of your health and mind-set, don’t let the task grind you down. Be organised, be rested and you can keep your passion for the project alive.
Create a work space.
One of the challenges of working from home is that you’re surrounded by personal distractions, from your family to pets to the pile of laundry that you can’t escape. If you have the space, set up a designated home office. Preferably, it is a place where you can close the door and shield yourself from disturbances. (It’s best that this space isn’t in your bedroom, which you should try to maintain as a restful, tech-free zone — one that you associate with relaxing, not working.)
Outfit your office with everything you personally need to work uninterrupted for a significant stretch of time, like computer, printer, phone — even beverages and snacks. That way, you don’t have to keep getting up and disturbing your flow.
If you don’t have an extra room, remove as many distractions as you can. For example, move the pile of unopened mail from your sight line, turn off the TV and close any browser windows on your computer that aren’t related to work.
If you don’t have the room to make a designated working area at home, or if you just find you’re struggling to get any work done in the same place where your TV lives, co-working spaces are a great option. Not only do they have everything you need, but they also help you avoid the isolation and loneliness that can come with working from home. They can also be a great choice for starting out, especially if you’ve employed a small team to help run your online business, as they let you enjoy a professional working base without renting out an expensive office that might not yet be within your budget.
As mentioned above, working from home can be incredibly isolating, so it’s important to get outside every day. Whether it’s going to the gym, running a quick errand at lunch or walking your dog in the afternoon, make sure to take some time to breathe some fresh air and clear your head.
If you know other people who work from home, consider planning meetups to discuss challenges, bounce ideas off each other and just have some fun together. That way, you won’t completely lose out on the social aspect of working in a traditional office.