Tips For Working At Home
If you are a new solopreneur or remote worker, chances are you are excited by your plan and just want to dive right in. Your home workspace may look something like this right now, but if you are serious about being in business or have work expectations to fulfil, you will need some structure in your time, space, relationships, technology and personal habits. After many years of being a solopreneur in business, I share Tips For Working At Home that I have learned through trial and error. (Updated March 2020)
- Allocate a specific portion of your home devoted to business only. It should be comfortable, have lots of light, and quiet. Make it a room with a door that may be closed if possible.
- It’s best to avoid working in a space where you normally relax – in front of the TV for example.
- Keep your workspace organized with only work-related items close at hand. This helps to keep your focus on your work. It also leaves a good impression when you are participating in those online meetings.
- Ensure that your desk points into the light so that your screens are not reflecting windows.
Time And Efficiency
- Create a work schedule. Form a habit by beginning and ending your day at the same time. You run the risk of goofing off or working all the time if you don’t.
- Allocate specific days for specific activities. I use Monday for writing, Tuesday for on-line socializing, Wednesday for a contract, etc. – Try listing all the activities you must do regularly and group them so that you gain some time efficiency.
- Decide when is the most efficient time to check your inbox and social media. Turn off all notifications so that you don’t get distracted.
- Determine when you do your best work and allocate that time for creative work. Use the time when you “have no brain left” for routine tasks.
- Use integrated systems such as Google Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Drive and use them fully for efficiency.
- Keep careful track of your commitments and meetings using a Calendar that gives you reminders such as Google Calendar. Ensure that you keep only one calendar that is available no matter which device you are using.
- Use an on-line organizer such as Google Keep or Trello for to-do lists and Evernote for keeping track of ideas.
- Use the last ten minutes of your day to write your To-Do list for the next day. That way you can get right to work first thing.
- Keep office supplies topped up so that you don’t have the inconvenience at an inopportune time. (Printer cartridges, printer paper, pens, etc.)
- If you do a lot of computer work, two monitors will save you a lot of time and frustration.
- Invest in good tech equipment if you participate in online meetings (Microphone, Webcam, Speakers, Green Screen) At a minimum, learn how to set up your laptop for the best transmission)
- Go paperless. You need a scanner and shredder for this. If you tend to print off items for reading, use the flip side for scratch paper, doodling and first draft writing. Then shred.
- Your computer system must have some structure so that you can find saved items easily. Try a numbered filing system using date (2020-03-28 Subject)
- You must also have a backup system in case of a computer accident.
- Socialize. Meet other business folks. Join networking groups and get actively involved. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of this from the home office. Meet individuals for coffee or lunch.
- Cultivate an online community of compatible colleagues that you meet online regularly. This allows you to expand your reach.
- Have a list of specialists that you can call on for help:
- IT specialist for computer hardware problems
- Website Specialist for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and for keeping your website fresh
- Accountant/Bookkeeper for record-keeping advice and tax returns
- Maintain positive relationships with those who share your living space (life partner, children, pets) Set your boundaries and insist they be respected. Examples: Do not disturb when the door is closed. Being totally present while with family by putting away the phone and computer.
- Your online community is more important now than ever in view of the recent virus outbreak. Learn how to host and manage meetings and social gatherings with Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout or Whereby.
Your Personal Habits
- Dress comfortably, yet professionally. If you do spontaneous online video work, start the day with a shave, hair groomed and makeup complete.
- Take a physical break hourly – stand while reading, sit while computing.
- Take mental breaks to reflect or relax. This is the time for those mindless activities such as watering the plants or loading the dishwasher but make sure it’s no longer than a couple of minutes.
- Don’t eat meals at your desk. Taking a break ensures you do better work when you return.
- Exercise regularly. An hour’s walk is a great way to begin the day or to break up the day at lunchtime. Regular exercise is good for the brain.
- Take a break from the computer and read professional development books.
- Subscribe to on-line news-feeds to stay on top of current trends.
- Regularly study “How To” courses. Keep adding to your skills and knowledge base.
- Limit your caffeine intake but stay hydrated.
- Stay healthy – Make snacks be fresh fruit, veggies or nuts -No junk food!
- Create meals that can be divided and frozen and later microwaved for those busy days with deadlines.
- Take a 15-minute nap after lunch if you need to. Set your timer so that you don’t overdo it.
- Take a day off when you need it. Go somewhere, do something. Your flexible work time allows this. You may have to work a weekend day to compensate but you’ll derive a valuable new perspective when you do that once in a while.
Share Your Experience
What is the one technique that has worked really well for you? What has never worked for you?
In my workstyle-lifestyle coaching work I love helping solopreneurs find direction, stay motivated and build systems that both support and promote their business. Here’s a great place to begin: