Many people have the luxury of working from home; in our digital age where more and more work can be done via texting, emails, Skype, and phone conversations (yes, some of us still like to use the telephone), the ability to work from home offers people wonderful liberties. However, with that liberty comes our own responsibility to get the job done, without distractions. How can you set yourself up to work from home to be the most effective? Steph’s Scribe has seven quick tips to help you be as successful as possible.
1-Shower and get dressed in the morning, even if you’re not going to leave the house. Psychologically, this works great for me. If I know I have a lot to accomplish that day, even if I will never move my car from the garage, I still shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, and start my day fresh. Just doing this simple exercise in the morning helps me to know I have things to accomplish, and I approach the day as professionally as possible. This does not mean I wear a suit and high heels, but I do NOT wear sweatpants and sneakers. (Actually, I typically DO wear heels because they make my 5’1″ frame taller).
2-Set up a space that is your own. In my previous home, I set up my office upstairs, because when my children were little, I worked at night and wanted to be on the same floor as they were. I painted the walls a light blue, hung pink curtains, and, yes, I got a chandelier. I have to be inspired by a space, but I also have to know that when I go in there to work, it’s all about work. In our current home, it came with a built-in office on the first floor, so that’s where I work now. And yes, it used to have a ceiling fan, but now it has a chandelier. Again, I have to be inspired and everyone in our family knows that when someone is working in there, it is all about the work.
3- Take breaks, but don’t stray. Sitting for long periods at a time isn’t good for you either. Be sure to take breaks. When you have your lunch, move away from the work area and eat in another room in your house; don’t be compelled to eat “at your desk.” Also, take a short walk in the middle of the day. It will clear your mind and offer you a new perspective.
4-Make a “to do” list to prioritize tasks the night before. As a writer, sometimes my “to do” list may just say “write a chapter.” As a professor, my “to do” list may say “write the syllabus” or “draft an assignment.” Years ago when I had my own consulting business as a writer and designer, I aimed to tackle the administrative work first and left the creative endeavors for the afternoon. Whatever tasks need immediate attention, write them on your list and take pleasure in crossing them off so that the first thing you do is GET STUFF DONE. This will make you feel as if your day is off to a good start and you are on your way to completing aspects of your job.
5-Set time limits for yourself when your loved ones are around. If you work from home and have a family, you may want to set up some parameters. For example, you may have to work on a Saturday. Saying, “Mom will be in the office from 8 a.m. until noon, so I’d like to plow through my work in order to spend the rest of the afternoon with you guys,” may be a great way to communicate that you have to accomplish some tasks during a specific range of time. The same could be true in the late afternoons or evenings. Sometimes, while my kids are doing their homework, I’m working on my own work or projects, so doing it together is also an option.
6-Find music that inspires you…and play it! I’m always amazed at people who can put their ear buds in and work as music hammers away. I’m not one of these folks. However, I do enjoy background music sometimes. When I am writing and I have the house to myself, I either have to have silence or music without words, such as classical music or those relaxing CDs you can get from Target near the card aisle. The difference between working in an office or working from home is that you can play your music at your own desired level, and no one will tell you to turn it down (unless your kids tell you to do so…and that’s called irony!)
7-Enjoy your freedom. You are blessed to be able to live this type of lifestyle. Embrace it and enjoy it. You’re getting the opportunity to balance work and home life. And every once in a while, schedule a lunch date. You’ve worked for it, after all.
Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.