Friday, May 30, 2014

10 Top Tips that Help Me Survive Working from Home...

For the last few years I have been working from a home based studio making jewellery and whilst I love not having the deal with the commute, working from home has its own challenges.

It takes a certain amount of discipline and organisation (my husband would laugh at the idea that I am organised). Whilst there is freedom in working from home, there are also negatives, there is something to be said about a traditional work environment where you walk out the door at the end of the day and forget about it until the next morning, this tends not to happen when you work from home. 

So today I am sharing the top tips that help me keep me sane.

Tip No. 1 - Routine.
Have a daily routine, get dressed as though you are planning to go to work. You be more productive if you feel like you are going to work rather than rolling out of bed, lolling around in pj’s. Of course you don’t have to dress up like you might for an office, but dress in a way that makes you feel good. 

When I dress I look at myself and think ‘If I had to go out without warning, could I walk out the door happy with the way I look’ if the answer is no, then change. It will give you a more positive outlook on the day and give the feeling of structure. 

Tip No. 2 - Have a Plan. Start each day with a plan for what you need and want to achieve. I have two whiteboards in my office, once for standard routine and one for specific tasks that I update each morning as needed. 

Tip No. 3 - Prioritise. Make sure the above plan is prioritised, what absolutely ‘has to be done’ that day and what you would like to achieve as an extra. But don’t stress the failures and interruptions, there will be days when you just cannot achieve what you want so don’t beat yourself up about it. No. 4 - Set Office Hours. Just because you work from home does not mean you should be available and working 24 hours a day. Set yourself office hours, not necessarily 9-5pm hours, but hours that work for you and your circumstances. 

For me, I work in my studio from 9am to 2.45pm, with a lunch break. Then I work on my blog, social media, paperwork and admin from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. Of course, you have to be flexible and sometimes these interchange and I might work on blog and paperwork in the morning and studio work in the afternoon, but I try to have a basic routine.

Tip No. 5 - Learn to Say No. This is a big one for me, saying no is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I have often found myself tearing my hair out as I promised to meet a deadline that was unrealistic because I could not say no. Tip No. 6 - Get Out, Take a Break. 
Yes, I realise this is a bit 'duh' but take regular breaks and at least once a day get out of the office/studio or workspace. For me just doing the school run each day is sometimes all the break I get if I am busy, but even this is something. 

Take the dog for a walk, sit on your patio with a coffee, drive to your local supermarket and shop for dinner, it doesn’t have to be exciting or social, but for me, if I don’t get out of the house even for a short time I go stir crazy. 

Tip No. 7 - Music. Working from home on my own I find silence lonely, so I am far more productive and happier when I have music cranked up in the background. Of course, this is not important for everyone, some people love the peace, or have young babies to consider. But I achieve so much more when the silence is not pressing in on me. 

Tip No. 8 – Organize Your Space. This is an area I struggle with also, not being the tidiest of people, my desk can look like a war zone. But I am far more productive when my workspace and studio are tidy and organised. I can find things quickly, I without having to clear a space first and achieve more. There are days when I walk into my studio, look around at the mess and walk out again as I cannot face dealing with it. 

These days nothing useful gets done and I find its better to waste a day tidying and organising my studio so I can be creative and productive following the clean up. I try to have a 'tidy up' day once a month to keep things under control.

Tip No. 9 - Have a designated Workspace.
I realise this is not always possible, but having a workspace separate from your living space allows for a feeling of work life balance. If your workspace is set in the middle of your dining room or lounge room, it can make it hard to separate the two. My workspace is a spare bedroom and when I walk out each night I close the door, it feels a little like leaving the office, without the horrible commute.

Tip No. 10 - Take time Off. When necessary, don’t be afraid to take the day off, if you are sick, stay in bed. If you need a break, feeling overloaded and need time off, take it. Work it into your schedule if you can, if not, just take a sickie, the world will not end if you spend one day just relaxing and recovering from exhaustion. 

Bonus Tip No. 11 - Coffee is a MUST. Haha, just kidding, this is not for everyone, but it certainly is for me. I could not survive without my caffeine fix.   

I hope my favourite tips help you organise your work life and give a little balance. If you have any work from home tips and rules you follow, please share them so we can all learn from each other and make our lives better one little hint at a time.

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