Hurray! You’ve decided to work from home. No more commuting, no more putting up with bad weather, you can wear what you like. Your work can be fitted around shopping when it’s quiet, catching up with odd jobs and mowing the lawn. Working from home can be the ultimate in work life balance and nobody steals your ‘special’ milk from the company fridge.
Is it really like that?
It depends. If you are working from home, you are working. Not sitting on the phone to your friends for an hour, not improving your score on the latest online game, and certainly not ‘chatting’ on Twitter about your favourite brand of cheese. Sure, you can take breaks when you like, but you still need discipline to ensure that you are productive for at least seven hours a day.
A day might go like this. Get up at 9 am, get washed and dressed. Have a leisurely breakfast listening to the local radio station. Text them as they have a competition running. Fire up the computer and check emails. Ooh, there’s a survey on cornflakes, must do that first. Now, a few online puzzles to get the head up to speed. Ah, it’s time for elevenses, put the kettle on. The postman calls with a package you are not expecting. How exciting! Rip open package, express audible disapointment at contents and phone company who sent it to complain at length. Get back to computer; client has sent an email. Will look at that later. Neighbour calls for a chat as you’re home. A few games of solitaire before getting stuck in to job that needs to be finished by tea time. Fifty games later, realise it’s lunch time. Make lunch, switch TV on and catch up with soaps from night before. Better get on with current job. Email from other client can still wait … you have this working from home lark sorted.
When working from home, it’s very easy to slip into the ‘I’ve-got-all-day-so-what’s-the-hurry’ mentality. This is fatal for any small business, which will soon disappear altogether if ignored like this. And it’s no good promising yourself you’ll catch up during the evening. It simply won’t happen, even with the best intentions.
You need discipline in order to:
- Perform current jobs well and efficiently.
- Keep communications with clients and other contacts prompt and concise.
- Work to drum up new business and new clients.
- Keep admin and maintenance up to date.
So how is this worked into the day successfully?
It’s case of planning and working to a schedule up to a point, then being able to adapt to changes as they happen. A few rules need to be brought in. For example:
- Make a list every day of ten things that HAVE to be done. Review, update and re-prioritise several times a day.
- Use your time efficiently at home. If you are taking a break, do something from your list while the kettle’s boiling. Ditto at lunchtime.
- Leave the TV and radio off until, say, 6 pm. Disable games on the computer if you can’t leave them alone.
- Your clients and potential clients come first. Reply to messages promptly and look out for replies.
- Be aware of deadlines and stick to them. Allow twice the time you think a job will take to complete, in case of unexpected problems.
- When working from home, be available during normal working hours and if you have to be away from your desk, have your email enabled phone with you and switched on at all times, unless you are with a client. Make sure that the caller can leave a message, and respond as soon as possible.
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you a few ideas for successfully working from home. Remember to take regular breaks to refresh your mind and stretch your muscles, but don’t allow home working to become home shirking.
By Gill PaveyClick a channel button to share ...