Ah the joy of working from home. Waking up when ever I want, going to bed whenever I want, working whenever I want …. That’s what most of us think of right? Well, in actuality, just because you work from home, doesn’t mean that you don’t work!
Those who work from home find it hard to take a break because work is always right in front of them. These five tips can help you focus on your job, whether your working for yourself or are self-employed:
- Keep a schedule, but don’t get seduced by it. Writing things down and crossing them off can almost be addictive. Be flexible as things can come up, but have deadlines for projects and tasks. Create regular office hours. Decide a weekly schedule and stick to it.
- Do your “feared thing” first. After your list is created, look at the one (or two, or three!) things that you’re dreading. Do them. First. That way, if the craziness of life creeps up on you, you’ll still feel like you accomplished something. You may just see that your procrastination disappears and you’ll have more fun because you’re saving the things you want to do for later on in the day, when we typically get more tired.
- Organize your office. Most self-employed people have a system: a way to log emails, phone calls, contact with clients, projects, etc. You don’t need a lot of space, but I highly recommend a filing cabinet with tabbed folders. I also use clip-boards to keep track of my various businesses. Once every three months I go through old files ad toss the ones I don’t need anymore. Clean off your desk every evening so you aren’t faced with clutter in the morning.
- Fight the lazy distraction monster. The joy of being self-employed is that our time can truly be our own, but sometimes we do tend to put things off. Especially when there is laundry to do, or dinner to make, or we think, “I’ll just make a quick trip to the bank and then get started!” My goal is to do 20 items a day. (That includes answering emails, and other typical business routines.) I have a kitchen timer that I set for 99 minutes, and just do a work blitz. I get as much done as I can in that 99 minutes, and then take a quick break. It always surprises me how much I can get down if I just commit to a small chunk at a time.
- Get outside. Our love for what we do should not lead us to become hermits. If you’re feeling lonely, overwhelmed or maybe you haven’t been out of the house for a few days, go for a walk. Call a friend. Do some light stretching or yoga. Just getting into the fresh air can rejuvenate and invigorate you again. Don’t just contact friends online or hang out on message boards. Maybe invite a friend on a walk and kill two birds with one stone. I like to schedule “yoga breaks” after my 99 minutes are up. Even just a 3-8 minute break gets the blood flowing again.
- Remind your family and friends that you love them. Just because you’re at home, don’t let everybody walk all over you with their needs. Make time for your family and make sure they understand when you’re in your “office,” you are at work. It took time, but I had to retrain my friends and family that although I worked from home, I still had a lot to get done. I couldn’t just run out for coffee or chat on the phone all day! In time, they understood. And I now have a fairly balanced day!