Well, I’m a little more than a year out from quitting my corporate 9 to 5 and running my business full-time. I survived a full year! It’s taken some time to figure out what works best for us, but I’ve put together a list of my tips for working from home. Whether you work remotely for a big company, homeschool your kiddos, or run your own business from home, hopefully you’ll be able to plug these into your situation!
1. Set designated working hours and force yourself to follow them. I like my sleep…like a lot. If I let myself, I’d totally revert back to my college self and sleep until noon. Yeah, there will be times when you binge watch House of Cards until 2am and the alarm gets pushed back a couple of hours (or is this just me?) but for the other 99% of the time, SET YOUR ALARM and get up.
2. Get dressed. (This sucks. I know! Shouldn’t the perk of working from home be working in your pajamas?!) I promise you. I speak from experience here. You will be 10 times more likely to have a more productive day when you’re presentable. That’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s true. I have to be ready to answer the door for deliveries, go on supply runs, go to the post office, etc. I can’t hide out and be a creeper peaking through the blinds all day. Heck – doing this honestly makes me more productive and sociable whether it’s for work or for personal. I’m ready to grab a movie or have dinner with a friend when I’ve taken the time to put on a bra, some clothes, and a little bit of makeup.
3. Have a designated workspace. Your set up can’t be your couch and coffee table. That’s too close to the temptation of Netflix and last night’s Real Housewives on your DVR. Whether you have a designated nook, a basement, or an entire room, have a place that is separate from the rest of your house. This helps your focus remain on work during work hours.
4. Make your workspace fun. Make it the most fun room in your house if you can! If the room doesn’t make you happy, you’ll dread going in. Light a candle, hang fun prints on the wall, during the holidays play Christmas music. When your work relies on creativity like mine does, I need a room that is inspiring to be in.
5. Lunch: Meal plan and eat at the kitchen table. I’ll just be honest, if I ate lunch in the living room, it would turn into a Sex in the City marathon. If I ate lunch in my room, it would turn into a nap. Sit at the kitchen table, put down your phone, and take a lunch break. Then when you’re finished, you can return back to your workspace. I’ve found that by doing this, I’m less likely to get distracted by anything else. Lastly, be sure to plan out your lunches ahead of time. Don’t waste your precious time figuring out what to cook or what drive-thru you can get to the quickest.
6. Set boundaries with your friends and family. Make sure your close circle has a good understanding of your work time and play time. Just because I’m at home and am my own boss doesn’t mean I’m available for a Tuesday matinée. (I wish!) When I first found myself with this newfound freedom, it felt like summer break all the time. Buuuut…I actually have to get something accomplished everyday so setting boundaries early on was a big help.
7. Enjoy a change of scenery. For the most part, I have to be in my office. I can’t travel with all of my equipment but on rare days when working remotely is an option – take advantage of it! If our website needs a lot of work or we are doing a holiday brainstorming session, Kat and I like to go offsite (I’m still using the ol’ corporate lingo!). It’s fairly easy to find a coffee shop or patio with free Wi-Fi. A lot of Starbucks have rooms you can reserve for free. We love brainstorming new products and designs while enjoying a new restaurant we’ve been dying to try. Plus…you can write it off!
8. Allow yourself work perks (in moderation). At the end of the day, you are your own boss. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are and you should be able to enjoy a perk or two for heaven’s sake! We changed our summer schedule so that we worked late one night a week and took Fridays off. We were able to enjoy a few days by the pool and get some projects around the house done. Our holiday season starts picking up in September so it’s not really an option the remainder of the year. Figure out realistic perks that work for you and your schedule and allow yourself to indulge every now and then.
9. Keep your workspace organized. For us, this involves breaking down boxes when supplies come in, keeping paperwork and receipts filed neatly and correctly, putting everything in it’s place after supply runs, and keeping good inventory. Let's face it, being in charge of your own livelihood is stressful enough. Why add to the stress with a chaotic office?
10. Force yourself to be extroverted. This is a tough one for me. It’s one of the biggest things I miss about my corporate job – getting up, picking out a cute outfit, doing my hair, and SOCIALIZING with actual human beings for 8 hours. Pick up the phone to talk to people instead of interacting solely through email. Schedule coffee and lunches with people in your network. One of my closest friends, Ashleigh, also runs a paper shop on Etsy. (You’ve got to check out With Wonder Paper!) I love meeting up with her to pick her brain on what’s going on in her world. Furthermore, let this expand outside of work as well. When a friend invites you to dinner, get out of the house and take them up on it. Better yet, how about YOU invite a friend to dinner! Don’t get caught in a rut where you’re not interacting with the outside world.
I’ve only been doing this for a year, so I’m not an expert by any means. Fellow entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms, and remote workers, what tips do you have? Teach me your ways! Until next time…