Most people may think that working from home is easy, and you can spend all day in your pyjamas watching television – wrong! In some ways, working from home is even harder than working in an office or workplace, because you have to plan your own schedule and keep yourself motivated.
I’ve been working from home for a while now, and of course, when I started I made a few mistakes. Who doesn’t? But hopefully since I’ve already made them then you won’t have to, so here are my top 6 common mistakes when working from home:
Not having a daily routine
Find what works best for you, and stick to it. One of the advantages of working from home is flexibility, so if you prefer to work in the evenings and take the morning off then that’s fine, as long as you do the same each day. You have to be strict with your timetable, otherwise you’ll never get anything done.
Personally, I stick to normal business hours, working 9 am – 6 pm with a number of short breaks throughout the day. The only change I make is that usually I work late one evening during the week so I can take a half day Friday.
In the same way that not having a daily routine is bad for your productivity, so is the opposite end of the scale, where you work all through the evening and late into the night.
It’s really tempting to work all hours, especially if you’re setting up your own business or establishing new contracts. Of course, there are times when working late may be required – but just occasionally. Overworking is pretty much guaranteed to lead to stress; and when you’re stressed your productivity and motivation are reduced, and the quality of your work suffers.
Not leaving the house
This may seem like an obvious point, but you have to get out of the house sometimes! When I first started freelancing I would spend the whole week indoors, without any fresh air or human contact, until my partner came home in the evening. My mood suffered as a result, and I quickly fell into a depression.
Take a walk during your lunch break, or arrange to spend a half day each week working from the coffee shop. Even better if you know other freelancers who you can meet up with.
Losing focus is a major issue when working from home because it’s so easy to become distracted by clicking on social media, or going into the kitchen to make yet ANOTHER cuppa. Remember to take regular breaks so you can recharge your batteries, check Facebook, make a cup of coffee, or read a chapter of a book – whatever you like
Try scheduling your tasks so you aren’t spending any longer than 90 minutes on the same thing, otherwise your mind will start to drift. Research shows that working in short bursts is more effective, so experiment with your timetable. Try working in 50-minute time slots, then a 10-minute break between each task. Having a short window will focus your attention, plus even if it’s a boring task like admin or accounting it’s only for a short period, so isn’t really that bad.
Not having a dedicated workspace
For the first year of working freelance, I only had a tiny desk squashed in a corner of the spare room, which was usually piled high with washing. This meant I would sit with my laptop on the couch, where it was all too tempting to just sit back and turn on the TV.
At the very least you need a reasonably sized desk, with some drawer space, and a proper office chair, so you don’t hurt your back. If space is tight then use the dining room table and just pack your stuff away into a drawer or storage box each day. Ideally, you will have at least some room to set up your own office space.
Becoming a slob
One of the myths of working from home is that you can sit around all day in a onesie or tracksuit. Personally, when I’m dressed like that, I’m in relaxation mode – I’m not ready for work. Obviously, you don’t have to wear a business suit, but you should always get up and shower in the mornings, get dressed in something nice, yet comfortable, and if you’re a girl put on makeup if it makes you feel better. It’s just another part of your routine, which makes it easier to stick to your schedule. Plus, you never know when an unexpected Skype call could come through – you definitely don’t want to be sitting there in pyjamas!
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made while working from home? Let me know in the comments below.
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