Updated: Feb 16, 2021
If your trip to work consists of a short walk from your bedroom to the home office every morning then hopefully this blog helps you stay efficient, focused, and sane.
I’ve primarily operated my consulting businesses from my home office for over 15 years and I’ve learned a lot from the experience. There are many upsides to working from home, but it comes with a few interesting challenges.
Here are my top 5 tips for running a business from home:
1. Have a Dedicated Workspace (if possible). Depending on where you live and the layout of your home it may be difficult to have a dedicated office to work in. You might have a kitchen table, a den, a couch or maybe a small desk tucked into the corner of your bedroom. I’ve worked in all those spaces over the years but converting a bedroom into a full office was the best solution.
I recommend wherever you choose to work, make that the space you go to every day. This will help build a routine into your workday. Wherever you work, make it a place you can work comfortably on your computer and where you can easily make phone calls without major distractions.
2. Develop a Routine: I’ve done my best over the years to ensure I’m out of bed and working between 7 - 8 am. This is when most of my clients start work so it’s beneficial to be in sync with their schedules. Try to wrap up your workday around the same time each day. Making calls and working well into the evening may disrupt others in your home, especially if you’re working from the couch or the kitchen table.
3. Write Down Items to Accomplish Everyday. One of the habits that keeps me on track each day is making task lists. Typically, I make an overarching list for the entire week and then I build micro lists for business tasks to accomplish each day. These lists play a key role in keeping me focused because you can get easily distracted working at home. The lawn needs mowing, a neighbor drops by for a visit, the dog needs walking, or one of your pre-school children requires attention. When working from home, it’s important you have a feeling of accomplishment each day and checking off items on a task list will help you achieve that objective.
4. Leave the House Once and Awhile. If you’ve been used to working in settings with plenty of human interaction, then working from a home office can be a completely different, and sometimes lonely, experience. I start to miss contact with people if I am in the house too many days in a row. To scratch your itch for human contact, you need to set up appointments to meet clients, find a great place to work in your favorite coffee shop, or rent some time in a shared work environment. Human interaction is a key to staying relevant and helps you build good business relationships. The COVID pandemic has minimized the opportunities for face to face meetings but even organizing online get-togethers or co-working sessions can be an interim solution for much needed human interaction.
5. Be Intentional with your Physical and Mental Health. For myself, some days it’s a major challenge to not make constant visits to the fridge or pantry. When I feel the need to take a break, I try to (weather permitting) go outside and walk and get fresh air. Not only is this physically beneficial, but it helps to clear my mind and feel energized for the next few hours of work. Whether it is exercising, talking to a friend on the phone, or taking time to cook your favourite meal, it is important to prioritize all aspects of your health when you are housebound.