Working your own hours in your pajamas whenever you feel like it and never having to leave your house – and being paid for it – sounds pretty fantastic to most people! Unfortunately, working from home is not necessarily all that simple. Sure, there is the advantage of forever avoiding rush hour traffic, but there is also the much more difficult than expected task of dividing at-home time with working-at-home time.
“I’ll just make the bed real quick”… “Shoot, my desk is way too cluttered to get work done”… “I am starving; I’ll just run out for a quick bite and get right back to work.” The reasons are endless for procrastinating on getting work done. The key to successfully working from home is being able to differentiate when it’s time to work and when it’s time to simply be at home.
Okay, this was not intended to dash your hopes of successfully working from home; it can most certainly be done. People do it every day with great success. Here are a few tips for at-home workers who are really ready to make it work.
1. Dress for work
This seems silly. “Why can’t I work in my underwear?” you may ask, “No one will know.” Well, you will know. Successfully working from home requires a disciplined mindset, and you need to take yourself seriously. If you went to the office in your underwear, there’s no way anyone there would take you seriously, and deep down you know you won’t either.
2. Be truly accountable for your time
Seriously write down and track your time spent working. This is a great way to begin to hold yourself accountable for your valuable time spent. Journal what you did throughout the day, and be honest if you find yourself chatting on the phone with Mom when you really should be calling in those orders.
3. Work with a buddy
Peer pressure is a fantastic source of accountability. If you are lucky enough to know another person who works from home, set up days to work together to be sure each other is keeping up with work-at-home best practices. Doing this may also help you catch on to techniques that work for your fellow at-home worker or even smart house/work division ideas.
4. Know when to get away
No one is perfect, and sometimes prioritizing your work when you’d rather be doing the laundry (hard to believe) might mean that you need to get out of the house. Heading out to the library or a coffee shop is a great idea to avoid those distractions as well as making a nice change of scenery. Working at home and living at home means you might not be getting out much!
5. Avoid multi-tasking
Blending your work to-do list, your home to-do list, and your things-I-just-want-to-do list can become a work-at-home nightmare. Getting a few things done for work, then unloading the dishwasher and then checking Facebook before getting back to work may seem harmless, (it’s all stuff you need to get done anyway!) but it’s not the way to maximize your productivity.
6. Stay focused
Like I mentioned above, staying on task is vital to successfully working from home. You may find it easier to follow through if you’re able to have a separate work computer from your at-home computer. Ideally, a completely separate workspace would be perfect, but physically delineating between work and home is immensely helpful however you can do it.
7. Center your concentration
You don’t just need to hold your time accountable – you’ll also need to hold yourself mentally accountable. Being physically present doesn’t matter when you work from home if you’re not mentally present for your work.
8. Don’t self-destruct
It’s all about time management. If you’re looking into working from home, the concept of working 9 to 5, Monday through Friday at the office probably sounds dreadful. To succeed at home you’ll need to set your own “office” hours, though they may not be the same as conventional hours. Poor time management can mean you’ll find yourself working here-and-there seven days a week, and that’s the fast track to a major burn out.
The great perks of working from home can all too often become the downfall of many work-from-home hopefuls. The key to succeeding in this unsuspectingly difficult line of work is, and always will be, personal accountability.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.