The beginners guide to working from home
Ever wanted to work from home? does your alarm go off and you immediately slap the snooze button? … skipping the morning commute and having coffee in your pyjamas whilst starting the day?
Working from your house seems to be the dream for most people. In fact, out of thousands of millennial’s interviewed, almost 63% said they aspired to work for themselves one day.
And it’s not surprising, because the rewards are huge. Create your own schedule, follow your passion, afternoon naps, mid morning yoga classes. The opportunities are endless to your freedom.
However, beginning your working from home life can be a bit daunting. Once you’re alone… you’re left completely alone to battle your to-do list, which requires a hell of a lot of self discipline.
Not everyone has the capabilities to manage this kind of task, but like I’ve already said, with some organisation, time management and a sprinkle of discipline, beginning your career from home may be the best thing to ever happen to you.
Today I’m going to show you “Working from home 101: the beginners guide to Working from home”. These are some of the best practices of time management, organisation, rules, tools and practical advice for maximising your productivity and minimising your stress levels. They are taken from some of the most experienced freelancers and self employed people and are designed to give you maximum benefit.
Before we begin, I’d just like to give a small piece of advice, the stuff in here is only a Guideline. A guideline to what has worked well for people in the past to help them increase their productivity and satisfaction working from home.
The most important thing to remember is that they are not laws. You may wish to take everything that is said with a pinch of salt, experiment with it, and find out exactly what works best for you. Then whenever you find out what works best. Keep doing it!
All set? Let’s dive right in.
Setting up a schedule.
Arguably the most important thing to do when you begin working from home is to create a schedule. Just because you’re free of the 9-5 workplace schedule, that does not mean that you should abandon all forms of a work schedule completely.
Having some kind of sense of when you’re going to work and when you’re not working is essential for any kind of business success. So here are some steps that may help you to create your own schedule.
You have to try and avoid getting into the “Day-off mindset” when you fall asleep, or even when you wake up. Dedicating a section of your home like an office or study to your work is ideal. We don’t advise that you work in your bedroom, if so, you will never be able to escape your work.
The next thing to do is to decide on when looking to work from home is your working hours. You may decide to work 9-5. Which is okay. But, we understand that the freelancing world is not always that simple, you may be required to work unsocial hours to complete your work, depending on where clients are situated in the world.
The next step, is simply to stick to this schedule. Make sure that you’re in “office mode” when you begin this time block on your schedule. As well as that, do be flexible. Do allow some time to complete other projects if you need it, do allow yourself to change your schedule around to fit your personal life’s needs, it is important however, just to make sure that you stay disciplined with the schedule, and don’t drift from it too often. If you can create the schedule that works best for you and you easily stick to it, then you’re doing great.
Finally, always make sure that your schedule is not too harsh. Don’t make it too difficult for yourself. If you’re a freelancer and you have multiple clients, do not go searching for more than you can handle.
It’s important that you can finish all the tasks you need to do without selling your soul. So take some time to spend on customer acquisition of course, but never bite off more than you can chew, understand your limits and schedule them accordingly.
Setting up a home office
The next important thing to do is to set up a home office. This. Is. Crucial. We warned you in the last paragraph about the dangers of working from your bedroom, it’s not something we advise, not only will it harm your productivity, but it will disrupt your sleep at night. (Don’t be surprised if you wake up at 2am desperately checking your emails.)
So save yourself from all the suffering, and pick a dedicated part of your home to your work tasks. Whether you have done it before or not, Here are some tips for setting up your home office.
First of all, make sure you have all the right equipment. This may vary depending on your business type, and the clients that you serve.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you will need to have a good computer, probably some kind of sketch pad, and some pencils. Whereas if you’re a writer, you may only need a laptop, or a pen and notepad, if you’re a consultant, you may need a laptop and large filing cabinets. Either way, make a list of all the essential things you will need, so you can spend less time hinting around for the essentials, and focus more on doing what you do best.
The next important step, is to create appropriate lighting. Most workplace offices have bright, white, energy conserving lights. These white lights are designed to boost productivity in the workplace. Lights like those ones can be bought from Amazon, or anywhere else online.
Most bedroom & home lights are slightly dimmed, and are designed to be easier on the eyes than the traditional office lights.
We don’t recommend using these types of lights in your home office, but if you can’t, it won’t be the end of the world, so don’t worry. If you can allow some natural light into your office, that’s an even bigger boost.
Another key point which is often overlooked is filing. Please, whatever you do, have clean, neat, tidy, conscientious filing systems. Regardless of what you do in your home office. You do not want to end up rummaging for important documents, or worst case scenario, you don’t want to end up getting personal stuff mixed up with work stuff, to make life easier for yourself and your clients, and to prevent red-faced moments in client calls, just make sure your filing system is clean.
Know your boundaries
This is another important, but often overlooked aspect of working in your house. Knowing your boundaries. Like in the previous sections, we discussed the importance of having a schedule, the importance of sticking to the schedule but being flexible at the same time. This is a little similar. This is essentially us telling you: do not burn yourself out.
This is exactly what drives many freelancers out of business when they are just starting out, they create their schedule, they have their own office space set up, but the only problem is that they live in that office space. 24/7.
When you start working from home, you will decide whether you want to work 7 days a week, or 4 days a week. Whatever you choose, when you’re not working, make sure you’re not working! You’ll be surprised how easily “just doing one little check on something,” can snowball into eating up your entire evening or your entire day off.
This has the power to destroy both your productivity and your mental health, so do yourself a favour. Take at least one day per week, with no emails, no checking in, and no looking through your home office.
You might find it helpful for example to put on some clothes when working. Working in your pyjamas sounds like most 9-5 worker’s fantasy, but anyone who has ever done it will tell you, that it’s overrated. Like I mentioned before, this is worth taking with a pinch of salt. Experiment with both sides of the coin and then decide exactly what works best for you.
When you’re at peak busy-ness, you will find it tempting to skip meals. I know this might sound ridiculous, but trust me, it’s easy to happen. In order to keep your productivity (and sanity) alive, it’s best to take regular breaks for your meals.
On top of that, even though it had become an icon of 21st century pop workplace culture… water coolers are like a gift from the god in your home office. Even though they were only ever really used for gossiping, staying hydrated will massively boost your focus and productivity when working from home.
For those of you who have never worked at home before, this may also sound a little strange. But to those of you who have. You will know all about it. In fact, a study shows that it’s the biggest problem that people who work from home face.
A recent study showed that more than 21% of people who work from home have suffered from this problem. And a study of entrepreneurs found that 3 out of every 10 had experienced severe loneliness and isolation at one point in their careers.
Embracing the hustle and grinding mindset that you may be familiar with may possibly lead you to increased productivity, however, whilst it is something that could be admired in some people, not making an effort to engage with a community may lead you to problems.
The journey of being a freelancer or working from home is a little bit like a roller coaster, and we need to make sure that we have all the tools and help available to get us through it.
One very possible and affordable solution is to work from outside your home. Maybe just popping around to the local Starbucks, to be in the company if other people could make a huge difference to your happiness.
Finding a few local areas that you could go to complete some of your work is not a bad idea. Who knows? You may even meet some people there and make it a regular occurrence.
Another top tip, is to add a little chatter to your environment, a little background music. When completing not-so-important tasks, that don’t require your full focus or concentration, you could maybe put on the radio quietly in the background, or add a little TV or music (as long as it doesn’t result in any dodgy dancing!).
The reason this is so effective, is because it essentially stimulates the concept of having co-workers. This background chatter will help you create a fun, easy-going atmosphere in your new home working environment.
working from home can be the best thing to have ever happened to you. If you do it right.
By following the steps outlined above with regard to your office space, schedule and the emotional issues which can arise from working at home, you should be fine. Just remember to pay attention to yourself, experiment a little more, and do more of what works.
I wish you all the very best of luck with your careers from home, and I wish you all the success you can dream of.
Thank you, and I’ll see you guys again soon.
If you are looking for more information on the world of freelancing and how to overcome it then check out this further guide on how to make it as a freelancer