Working at home can sometimes be chaotic, stressful, disorganized, and overwhelming. So why do we do it and how can we make it less of all those things? Here’s an example of your day…
You get up in the morning, get the kids off to school, walk into your office – only to remember you need to start laundry. You gather up the first load of clothes, start the washer, remember there are still clothes in the dryer, fold those and put them away.
Okay, now you can start work. You walk through the house towards your office and realize how messy the house looks. So you think, “I’ll just tidy up real quick.” You begin cleaning house, put the clothes in the dryer, start the next load of laundry … and the next thing you know, it’s lunch time. You fix and eat lunch.
Now you can begin work, right? But the phone rings. It’s one of your closest friends that you don’t get to talk to very often, but the calls are usually short, so you go ahead and answer it. It doesn’t take you long to realize this is not going to be a short call. You finally get off the phone and get into the office.
You check emails and organize a few things – oh, here come the kids home from school. In between getting them a snack, breaking up arguments, and finding something to keep them occupied, you didn’t get anything done today.
Tomorrow is a repeat of today. There are different distractions, like running errands or helping your spouse with something, but distractions still the same. You end up working weekends because you didn’t get accomplished all the work you needed to during the week.
So what can you do to stay on track and work in and on your business instead of letting the daily distractions – well, distract you?
- Set a work schedule. Decide what hours you will be in your office and stick to it. The chores and the errands can be done before or after your work hours.
- Get dressed for the day. Yes, lounging around in your robe and slippers can be comfy, but save that for evenings. But get up in the morning and prepare for your day.
- Explain to your family and friends that you will be working from 10:00 – 4:00 and that you will be unavailable during those times. Explain to them what you do and set clear boundaries. Make sure your children understand those boundaries, explain the rules, and enforce those rules.
- Make sure you have a dedicated workspace. Do you have an extra room that could become your office? Then take action and do what you need to do to make that space yours. If you don’t have an extra room available, find a space in the house that you can block off as much as possible to be yours.
- Is your workspace welcoming? Be sure to decorate your work area so you feel comfortable and WANT to be there. Have you been looking at the same color walls for a while and they’re beginning to nag at you? Then maybe it’s time for new paint.
- Put a big red stop sign on your closed office door (don’t be afraid to close the door) to let children and others in the house know that you’re unavailable right now. You can do this when you’re on client calls or in the middle of a project. Be sure to explain what the sign means, no interruptions except in the event of a fire or major injury.
- Be sure to stop and eat lunch. Don’t work the entire day without eating your meals. I know it can be tempting to work through lunch and just snack during the day, but break times are just as important as the work times.
Off the top of my head, I can think of several more tips for making your work at home day more productive, but I’d like to hear what you do to have a more productive day. Be sure to share your ideas below.