I’ve been running a home-based business for over 10 years, and before that I ran a home-based marketing business. And before that, I worked from home for a company before it was even cool to work from home! So trust me when I say, I’ve learned a few things over the years, and I’m happy to share them with you. If you’re new to working from home, these WFH tips will get you started on the right foot!
This is my number one tip for entrepreneurs! Hiring a bookkeeper from the day you start your business will be the best investment you ever make.
I wish I’d known this when I started my own business. But I thought it would be easy and save me money if I did it on my own. Once I hired a bookkeeper, I realized that it actually would have been easier, and saved me both time and money if I’d just hired one on day one.
Even if you’re working for an employer, find a way to accurately keep track of business expenses, since you’ll probably incur more of them than when working in an office. You’ll definitely need this information for your accountant during tax season, since your home office and associated expenses may qualify as a tax deduction. (Talk to your accountant for more details.)
If you’re still keeping traditional office hours, create some sort of routine that officially kicks off your work day.
For my husband, who has never really liked working from home, he has to get dressed up, put on his shoes, and leave the house to get coffee. Then when he comes back home, he goes straight to his office and that marks the beginning of the day. The process of driving somewhere reminds him of driving to an office, so it’s a little morning ritual that works well for him.
When I’m working from home, my day starts out with coffee and a quick glance at my emails to see if there’s anything urgent I need to address before diving into my work.
There is probably no more important WFH principle than to establish a separation between work and home life.
Working from home makes it easy to blur the lines, but i can tell you from experience that it’s easy for work to take over and intrude into family time. “It’s just one minute.” “I’ll just answer one email.” “Hang on, son, while I call this client back.” It’s way too easy for one minute here and another minute there to add up and take over the things that matter most in your life.
I’ve tried different things over the years to create this balance — some more successful than others. Here are a few of ones that worked well for me (when I finally figured them out!):
Set an alarm during the day to take a break from work — go for a walk, leave the house for exercise, throw in a load of laundry. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish if you use your time wisely!
When someone from my family walks into my office during the workday, I try to stop what I’m doing and focus on them — turn away from my computer, look them in the eye, and have a conversation as if they’re the most important person in the room (because they are).
If your husband also works from home, you may be able to work out a trade of household duties and hanging out with the kids during the time one of you needs to be uninterrupted at work.
I can’t believe I’m addressing this, but snacking has always been a huge temptation for me when I’m working from home. I’ve heard the same thing from other entrepreneurs, so I know it’s a thing. Here are a few ways I’ve addressed my own snack situation:
Meal prep. Prepping meals and snacks over the weekend makes it so much easier to avoid temptation to eat the first thing you find in the cupboard. It’s also helpful when it’s 5 o’clock and you haven’t even thought about what’s for dinner!
Join a gym. Having a personal trainer completely changed my ability to get in enough exercise, because, let’s face it, sitting at a computer all day is not conducive to movement.
Make a trip to the health food store. Having healthy snacks you look forward to eating is a better
Find non-sugary drinks for the in-between times. I admit it — I’m not good at this one. I’d rather than have something crunchy to snack on then just sip a cup of tea. But sometimes I can put off the urge to nibble on something by pouring myself a Bengal Spice tea (spicy and sweet — that seems to do the trick!).
Take that afternoon walk if you’re feeling tired. Or a nap. That’s the beauty of working from home! 😉
I had a manager once who taught me all about time blocking, and it really does help you get the most out of each day!
What is time blocking? It’s basically setting aside certain blocks of time during the day for certain tasks. For example, if one of your roles is recruiting new talent, you might set aside two hours every afternoon to work on recruiting.
I found that setting aside certain blocks of time to return emails makes me more efficient at my work. That way I’m not tempted to constantly be checking emails. It does take some doing, but it can be a huge time saver!
Another time blocking tip that works well for me is to schedule my most challenging tasks first thing in the morning. That way, they get done first, regardless of what other things come up.
Finally, this is my favorite tip of all: Be sure to schedule days off on your calendar. I mean actually, physically draw a line through the day and make your own appointment for a day off.
This is easier said than done, because entrepreneurs and self-starters tend to feel the need to constantly be working.
But I promise — your work will be more productive when you’ve just had a 3-day weekend, or a mid-week date with your husband!
If these tips work for you, drop me a line and let me know! Or if you have more WFH tips you’d like to share, shoot me an email. Maybe I’ll write another blog post of ideas from my fellow work-from-home friends!
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