Most of us have spent the majority of our professional lives working in an office, but current technology affords today’s entrepreneur a lot more flexibility. While working from home sounds ideal, it presents you with some unique challenges. It makes it easy for the line between work and home life to become blurred and if you’re easily distracted or need constant social interaction, it may not be for you. Here are some tips that will help you make it work:
Physically separate your work and home life. The best way to maintain the boundary between your work and home life is to physically separate them. When you have a specific place to work (preferably with a door) you can avoid distractions and prevent your work from interfering with your home life. Also, when you have all of your work files, tools and reference materials in one place, you don’t have to waste time running around looking for them.
If you don’t respect the boundaries of your work day, nobody else will either.
Be firm. When you’re working from home, people will always put demands on your time during the day. Whether it’s your spouse asking you to deal with the technician who’s coming to fix your furnace, or a friend inviting you out for coffee, it’s disruptive. Don’t be afraid to say no to these requests. If you don’t respect the boundaries of your work day, nobody else will either. It is best to keep personal errands to a minimum but if you decide to do them, make up the time later.
Be on a schedule. Entrepreneurs who work from home often end up working too much. Since there is no natural boundary between their work and home life, they never put down the laptop. Create a schedule that allows you to minimize distractions and get most of your work done while the house is quiet. Also, be strict with yourself about ending your workday when the time comes.
Connect with people. When you are working from home, it’s easy to feel isolated. You don’t get that regular social interaction that you get in an office and you might be surprised to find that you miss it. Schedule yourself lunches and meet-ups with your contacts. Be active on social media and build new connections online. When working from home, you have to make more of an effort to network.
There are definitely pitfalls when working from home, but don’t let them deter you. Just because it was a dismal failure for a friend of yours doesn’t mean that it won’t be the perfect solution for you. It can offer you flexibility, no commute, and it can allow you to achieve the work-life balance that we’re all striving for. The key is to be aware of the potential challenges and to create strategies ahead of time to address them.