How to actually be able to WORK from home.
While I admit that working from home is the dream, practically it is a lot harder than it sounds. When you are working from home it is far too tempting to do housework or watch Netflix, or get side-tracked by the kids, or want to take a nap.
It is also very easy to get caught up in the bits of working for yourself that you find to be fun, such as designing your own business cards or logo, or playing around with building your own website, and then ignore the bits that might actually make you money.
This kind of procrastinating and getting distracted happens to every person at work, but even more so for those of us who work from home.
One of the difficulties of working from home is not having a clear demarcation between when you are at work and when you are at home. If you don’t take solid steps to put a clear line between the two then you will find both blurring together, and you may not end up doing anything very well.
Time Management and Maintaining Focus
Working from home gives you enormous flexibility. If I don’t get something finished during the day I can finish it after the kids have gone to bed at night, or on the weekends while my partner is home.
But because there is a bunch of stuff to distract me while I should be working, if I let myself get side-tracked then the work piles up, and I never actually really knock off.
Here are some tips that help me manage my time:
- Invest in a great planner, and use as many different planning systems as you need
- Set work hours and make sure that you work them
- Make sure other people know when you are working
- Set a time when you are going to knock off, and stick to that too.
Justifying yourself to other people
When I first started writing from home it was really just a way to keep my brain alive while I was home with my baby and dealing with some health issues. It was a bit for fun and a bit to stop from going completely stir crazy. It was just a hobby I guess in the beginning, and I and everyone else treated it that way.
Then it grew and now I work full-time and make a sufficient income that I don’t need to consider getting outside employment. But the people around me have a little difficulty defining what I do as work, probably because I wasn’t clear in my definition of it for a long time. I’m not really sure when I stopped telling people I was a full-time mum who sometimes wrote a bit, and started introducing myself as a writer.
When you are running your own business from home, you might find some of the following happening:
- Friends and family expect you to be free during the day to catch up or run errands for them
- Your kids’ school and kindergarten will expect you to be available for excursions and such
- Your partner may not understand when they get home from work and you have done nothing to clean the house or cook dinner (because you have been working the whole time too!)
Occupational Health and Safety
A good boss will make sure that the health and wellbeing of their staff are paramount, and you are your own boss. You need to remember to do this because no one else will.
Some of the ways you need to take care of yourself during your work day include:
- Work in a chair and at a desk that is correct for your height and body build. If you are sitting for long periods you should be sitting properly and with the right posture for your back and neck. There are contractors who will come in to your home to assess this and advise you on what your seated position should be, or check out this link for a great graphic.
- Take breaks and make sure that you walk away from your desk at least once every hour, even if it is just for a few minutes to stretch, make a cup of coffee or go to the toilet.
- Make sure that you take time to have lunch and do this away from your desk. If possible, get out in the sun for 10-20 minutes and give yourself some Vitamin D as well as a mental health boost.
- When you are in work mode, be in total work mode. Wear your glasses if you need them, turn off distracting noise such as television, or put in headphones with soothing concentration music if that helps you.
What are the negatives of working from home?
There are, of course, negatives to working from home. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems, even as easy as I make it out to be. Keeping an eye on balance is important as is paying attention to your own physical and mental health.
Some of the negatives I have found include:
- You never go home from work
- You don’t get super or paid leave
- There is a danger to work a lot more than you think you are, because you don’t have solid clocking on and clocking off times
- You need to be self-driven and motivated and keep the procrastination to a minimum
- It can get lonely
How to stay sane
Make good quality use of the time when you are not working.
Get out of the house sometimes, to a café, or to local business meet-ups.
If like me you are doing this to be able to be a work from home mum, make sure you are truly in the moment when you are with your kids.
Don’t put extra guilt on yourself for working instead of playing with your children, or for playing with your children instead of working. It’s not a work-life balance unless you are balanced about it!
If you are sick, be sick, in order to rest and give yourself a proper chance to get better.
Try to be hyper-aware of if you are taking on too much (because no one else is there with you to see the working stress take its toll).
Use online forums to network with other people in your field, or other business mums or people who work from home (or all of them). Facebook is an awesome place to find supportive groups that will give you plenty of advice and feedback when you need it, or let you whine and debrief when you need that too.