How To Work From Home
Working from home sounds like the ultimate dream for many people and lots more of us are switching to working this way, perhaps because we are self-employed, or have started our own business, or because the company we work for has chosen to operate that way.
But if you have never done it before it can be hard to make the adjustment from working in a busy workplace, so here are some tips on how to do it right:
1. Get dressed. The classic image of working from home is someone lounging around in their PJs and slippers all day, but it can be hard to feel professional if you are talking to your boss, negotiating a deal or conducting a high level conference call in your nightwear. You definitely don’t have to wear a suit but instead choose a selection of smart but comfortable clothes to wear that make you feel like you are a grown up with a proper job to do, rather than a disorganised teenager who is skiving off school.
2. Choose a place to work in your home and make it your own. If you have a spare bedroom you can take over that’s fantastic, but if not then just find a corner for yourself and put a desk in it. Contrary to popular myth, the kitchen table is not a great place to work because you will constantly have to move your stuff whenever anyone wants to eat. And it always has crumbs on it. Now get a comfortable chair, make sure you have good lighting and try out your desk in different positions to see if you prefer to face a wall, a window or into the room.
3. Get organised. Find somewhere to store all your work documents, so they are not constantly getting lost around the house. Take over a bookshelf or buy lots of large plastic boxes with lids to keep everything in one place.
4. Close the door. If you think you might be distracted by household chores or the television, put as much space as possible between you and them and close the door. If you can’t see the dirty dishes or piles of unwashed clothes, you are far less likely to feel the need to do something about them.
5. Establish some house rules. If you have a flatmate, partner or children sharing your home, get them on board. Agree what times you are going to work and which room you can use to work in, and make sure this is not going to cause resentment. If your children have been used to having a playroom of their own, they might not appreciate you turning it into a home office.
6. Take breaks. Without a workplace to wander around, a watercooler to hang out at or face to face meetings to go to, it can be easy to sit at your desk for too long without realising it. So take regular breaks throughout the day and make sure you get lots of fresh air and exercise. Swimming, running and brisk walking are ideal ways to stretch out after sitting at a computer.
7. Beware the doorbell. If you are the only one working from home in your street, you are likely to end up being interrupted frequently when couriers ask you to take in your neighbours’ deliveries. If you really don’t want to be disturbed, unplug the doorbell or put a polite notice on the door.
8. Schedule your day so that it suits you best. Now that you are not having to commute to work, take the opportunity to start earlier and get your most challenging tasks out of the way – you will be amazed how much work you can get done by lunchtime, and then you can use the afternoon to take a break.
9. Be sociable. Working from home can sometimes be quite lonely as you are likely to be on your own for large parts of the day, so make the effort to chat in person with someone everyday who is not connected to your work. Arrange to meet up with a friend for coffee or chat across the garden fence with a neighbour.
10. Stock up on supplies. If you are used to working in an office it can be a shock to discover that you now need to fend for yourself. Make sure you have plenty of extra paper and ink for your printer, buy in envelopes, pens and whatever else you need. You really don’t want to have to rush out to buy things when you are on a deadline. The same goes for food – hide the chocolate biscuits and fill the fridge with healthy snacks to munch on instead.
Rachel Bridge is the author of the book How to Work for Yourself, which is being published by Piatkus on March 26th 2020. She is the former Enterprise Editor of The Sunday Times and has written eight books about personal development, smart thinking and entrepreneurship.
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