There are many advantages to working from home. Whilst everyone else has to get up at silly o’ clock, spend hours on trains, tubes and in traffic jams in order just to get to the office, the homeworker can take it easy. Not for them the daily toil of the rat race.
Instead, mornings can be spent in bed in the manner of romantic poet, idling listening to the radio, reading a favourite book or perhaps scanning the internet for interesting and diverting websites. Work? Well, that can wait. After all, you have all day. Right?
There’s a reason people go to the office and, as Jeremy Myerson in Monocle magazine wrote recently, it’s not to work. People go to the office to socialise, flirt, eat, bond and if they really have to, perform some tasks. At a time when we can communicate electronically with pretty much anyone whenever we want, working at home makes sense: less distractions, time to work when you want and a structure that you yourself set. Sounds great. Sadly, the reality can mean putting off work and spending hours on the social networking site du jour or watching Cash in the Attic.
Not only can you become easily distracted without a boss to keep you in line, but if you’re having trouble getting work, home can seem a lonely, claustrophobic place. The key to working successfully from your house lies in the thing you thought you’d left behind when you started working for yourself: structure.
Try these tips to help your day go more smoothly.
1) Set yourself a list of tasks you need to complete in the day. Don’t be unrealistic in terms of workload, but also ‘See if I can eat whole packet of Jaffa Cakes’ sadly doesn’t constitute a meaningful morning’s work.
2) Turn off your web browser. If you absolutely have to go online for information, resist the temptation to go to your favourite websites – you’re only putting off something important in favour of wasting your time online.
3) Calculate when you’re at your most productive. If you’re a morning person, do the majority of your work then. If not, relax, but be aware that you’re going to have to do it at some point. Authors often talk about structuring their time like a day in the office, so once the house is free of flatmates/partners/children, have a shower, get dressed and start work.
4) If things aren’t going well, go for a walk. It’s tempting to stay at your screen but a quick stroll and a coffee will clear your head, leaving more space for inspiration.
5) Buy a desk and create a designated work space. This may sound odd, but working on a laptop in sweatpants is a profoundly depressing experience – and it’ll play hell with your back.
6) Regularly socialise with your ex-workmates and friends. The best thing about going to an office is meeting up for a post-work pint or having a spot of lunch. Lose these and you’ll lose a lot of what makes life fun. Keep up with your old contacts and meet them regularly.
7) If you’ve got young kids, be realistic in terms of what you think you’re going to achieve as it can be harder to get work done when they’re around, especially once they’re toddlers.
8) Take holidays. Just because you don’t go the office every day doesn’t mean you don’t need a break. Even though you’ll probably be checking your emails when you’re away, don’t do it too much – most things can wait a day or two, and it’ll do you good to remind yourself you have a life outside your job.