Ever since embarking on the wild adventure of self-employment, people love to tell me how lucky I am that I get to work from home. And they’re right! Working from home has its pitfalls though too. Don’t get me wrong. Nothing is better than wearing sweats and a basic tee wrapped in my favorite cozy sweater while everyone else braves the single digit temperatures. I save a ton of money on not having a commute and eating what’s in my house for breakfast and lunch each day. Plus, I rarely buy coffee. Nice, right? I agree! The biggest downside of working from home is the amount of distractions. For myself, there is no one home but me and (if I’m in the suburbs) the dogs. The TV will call your name on gloomy days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch. The dogs will try and use their mind power to use you has a human pillow. They’re so hard to resist! Most of all, there is no one to keep you on track.
Not working in an office, I find that I get loads more accomplished in my day. I hated working at a desk in a cookie cutter room. I took a million water and bathroom breaks and I found myself chatting with people on hangouts or AIM more than I found myself working. The days went by in a blur and I was miserable. Self-employment is not the easiest career choice nor is it the most stable. For those of you, like myself, who prefer creative freedom, choosing your own clients and workload, and working with people who have similar career and life goals that do not revolve around a corporate structure, self-employment and/or small business is the perfect fit. Let’s get one thing straight though, we work our asses off. On those days when distractions are winning over motivation, I’ve put together a list of tips to avoid them. Some may work for you, some might not. If you have any tips of your own, let me know in the comments below!
1 - Have a space created in your home strictly for work. In both of the places that I live, I have an “office space” that consists of a desk and all the things I need to do my job. It’s set up so that I can stay focused and on task with very little distractions. I also make sure my desk is facing outwards towards a window. The natural light keeps me alert and it’s much more pleasant than staring at a wall.
2 - Establish work hours. One of the hardest things when you work from home isn’t so much turning it on but turning it off. Not overworking myself is something I’m conscious of because I will work myself into the ground. Calculate how much time you need each day to conquer your responsibilities. Set up hours each day that allot that much time - no more, no less - and stick to it. Forcing yourself to complete your tasks within that specified period of time will help keep you focused . You’re giving yourself a deadline to finish the day.
3 - Set boundaries with friends and family. A big challenge in working for home is dealing with unannounced visitors and surprise phone calls. It’s hard for most people to understand that just because you work from home does not mean that you have the freedom to stop everything for a little chat when they feel like it. It may be flexibility you have and a drop-in once in a while is okay. If anyone is making a regular habit of it, it’s important to set a boundary. Let them know that these are your work hours and they need to be respected as if you were in a traditional office. As a friend or family member, they should understand that and respect your wishes.
4 - Dog moms, this one's for you. Scooby Doo likes to think that the work day ends at 1pm. He’s learned how to turn my desk chair around so that I’m forced to look at him. We all love our furbabies but when they’re being too much of a distraction, something's got to give. I have the luxury of being able to call family and ask them to handle the dogs for me on occasion when Scoobs is being extra obnoxious. On the days that I don’t, I have to heartbreakingly close my door. Call me a wimp, tell me that I don’t have control of my dogs, fine. It still does not change the fact that shutting out my rescue dog who means the world to me because I have to work breaks my heart. Sometimes, it has to be done though. Isolate yourself in your little work space and knock what you need to out as soon as possible.
5 - Keep the TV away and avoid comfy spaces. One of the first things I do in the morning when I wake up is make my bed and I don't get back in until it's time to go to sleep. I also avoid any spot where it could get too comfy like the couch. You want to stay focused and wrapping up in a blanket will not help. I also avoid the TV. It's easy to get into binge mode. If I do have the TV on, it's for background noise and usually on something like the Food Network or HGTV.
Those are my tips. It's not a science, there's no secret trick. It's making sure you have a good space to work and avoiding the comfy places throughout your home. Oh, and making sure the dogs don't distract you too much. At the end of the day, it comes down to self-management and being able to focus yourself. If this isn’t something you can handle even without distractions, working from home isn’t your thing and that is fine