When I first started working from home I was, shall we say, less than productive. I had my television on, and the kitchen was in the next room. The laundry and dishes needed to be done, and dinner needed to be cooked. I was busy all day, but I got nowhere. It didn’t take long to see I had a problem. While I wasn’t failing to get my work done on time, I wasn’t doing much because I didn’t pick up many jobs. I was too busy keeping house. I needed to make working from home effective!
I knew something had to change. I was not able to isolate an area for a home office, but I realized I had to isolate myself. It wasn’t a problem to go to the office in my pajamas, but I still had to do my job and grow my business, so I got to work. I created rules that, in turn, defined my working environment.
How to Make Working from Home Effective
- The office is still the office. While it might be located in my home, it is still my office, and it should be treated like one.
- Keep regular business hours. To be sure, mine aren’t perfect, but they are reasonable. I start work between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Those hours are very flexible. If I feel like taking my time to get really focused and started, I might take a break and wash the dishes or do the laundry. It might sound weird, but doing mindless tasks gives me a chance to think.
- Take a real lunch. While I tend to take about two hours to eat lunch because I like to nibble while I work, I designate a specific block of time to make lunch. Instead of going to the kitchen all day getting this and that, I make a real lunch then eat at my desk.
- Work until the end of the day. I do work into the evening, most days, but that is because I like what I do. However, the important point is, I make sure I am productive through the end of the work day. The rest is icing on the cake, but without the cake, the icing is just a mouthful of sweet smoosh.
When you work for yourself you are, in effect, judge, jury and executioner, and you are the defendant. You have to look for work, schedule it, handle communication, do the work, turn it in, bill, collect and pat yourself on the back. That’s right, don’t forget to pay your respects to yourself. After all, those deposits are the result of your hard work, and you should remember that. No one else will.
Ultimately, you are the one who is responsible for your success – or failure. It is a powerful experience and an awesome responsibility. People depend on you for the work you promise to do for them and, hopefully, deliver. There is no one to look over your shoulder and no one to blame. You play all the roles and take the bows – and tomatoes. And you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Laurel Lindstrom has been self-employed and works from home as a writer for KeyInsuranceQuotes.com. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but she’s finally getting the hang of it.