Before you switch from working in a traditional office to working from a home office you will need to set a few rules. These are rules for both your family and for yourself and help keep you focused, and distractions to a minimum.
If you have already made the switch then hopefully you have already worked through these, but if not, read on to discover what you can do to regain some sanity, and get some work done. After all, this is why you became a virtual professional, right?
Have Fixed Office Hours
People automatically assume that if you are working from home you work only when you want to. Dispel this idea, and prevent anyone from coming to visit you unexpectedly, by having fixed office hours. Let everybody know what they are too.
This helps you to remain focused and to put in a full productive day, but more importantly it lets everybody know, your family included, that you are unavailable during those hours for anything other than work.
Avoid Unnecessary Distractions
Working from home brings with it the convenience of avoiding a long commute, being distracted by colleagues and interrupted by meetings. It also brings with it the inconvenience of being distracted by household chores, the television and a myriad of others things you don’t find in a traditional office. The television should be strictly off-limits, and if you absolutely have to do some household chores, schedule these between major work tasks. That way they don’t interrupt your workflow, and the short break from work could actually allow you to focus more clearly when you go back to your office.
Maintain Connections and Keep Networking
If you are telecommuting for a large corporation, remain in regular contact with your colleagues. While you will still be communicating regularly with your boss, it is easy to lose touch with the people you no longer see everyday.
If you are working for yourself, you still need to maintain business and peer connections. You can do this by attending industry related conferences, exhibitions and other networking opportunities. Use these to not only find potential clients, but also to establish relationships with people working in similar fields.
Work According to a Schedule
Having a schedule, and deadlines, should not be something you leave behind. It is extremely important to continue working according to a schedule, with deadlines attached to most tasks and projects. Just because you don’t need to give a boss regular feedback on projects does not mean you don’t need to remain focused and committed to completing milestones for each project. With nobody peering over your shoulder the whole time it can be very tempting to keep delaying a project until the very end.
Leave the Office at the End of the Day
One of the biggest temptations will be to put in an extra hour or two at the end of the day, usually because of an approaching deadline, or something else you didn’t plan properly. Resist this, or risk burning yourself out. Working an extra 5-10 minutes as you quickly finish off something you were busy with is fine, but working longer hours so you can clear out your inbox or bring your filing up to date is not. Leave the office, lock the door, and spend time with your family.
Take a Break
This is not the same as networking, although it is linked to maintaining connections. Make a point of leaving the office for lunch or a mid-afternoon break, and then get out of the house too. Take a short walk through a nearby park, or have lunch with a friend or former colleague. This helps to refresh you and your mind, and the social contact is also important.
Working from home does give you some flexibility, and despite the need for rules, you should also make full use of this flexibility every now and again. Maybe this means scheduling a Friday off and taking your family out of town for a three-day weekend every few months, or rewarding yourself with a half-day off after completing large project. You should use the flexible nature of home-work to reward yourself occasionally, being careful not to abuse it or allowing it to interfere with your business negatively.
The secret to maintaining a healthy balance between work and family when working from home is to have a clear set of rules that everybody knows and follows. You want the experience to be rewarding for both you and your family, and this is easy to achieve with the right approach.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we are committed to providing earth-friendly administration and offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.
Image credit: Matt Howry | CC BY 2.0