One of the perks of working for yourself is that you can schedule your day as you see fit. But sometimes I’m asked how I can stay focused and not get distracted by the TV, the laundry, food in the fridge etc.
I’m not going to lie and says it never happens; it does, sometimes. But I’ve got better at managing my time and am pretty firm with myself about having a daily routine. Otherwise the hours slip away and before you know it, it’s time to go and pick the kids up from school.
So today I’m sharing a few of my tips for staying on track when working from home.
Get up, get dressed, go!
I gather that a lot of bloggers and home workers stay in their PJs all morning – or even all day. But what if the postman knocks at the door, I always wonder?! I love hopping into a onesie at the end of the day, but I couldn’t wear one while working. I suppose I just feel less ‘dynamic’ – imagine talking on the phone to an important business contact while wearing fluffy bunny slippers. ‘They can’t see you,’ you may say, but to me it would feel strange and unprofessional! Same goes for wearing a bit of make up, I don’t feel ready to tackle the day without it – a personal choice, I know, but it works for me – so do whatever works for you!
I would recommend setting your alarm, whether you have to be somewhere or not. I’m up early anyway (as my eldest catches the school bus at 7.30am), but the danger is that if you don’t have to get up, there’s a good chance you won’t! If you start your working day at 11.00am, you’ll be playing catch up for the remainder, rather than feeling ahead of the game.
Organised & Inspiring Work Space
Again, I know many people can work comfortably anywhere, perched on the bed or down at the local coffee shop – my husband included. But this nomadic style is counter-productive for me. I feel a need to sit at my desk with the keyboard and screen in front of me. Not only is it better for my posture (having suffered a bad back previously), I also have everything I need to hand. I don’t have to get up and schlep from one place to the next to grab a pen or a stapler, wasting time.
Even if you don’t have separate room for your office (as I don’t) you can make the smallest corner of your home stylish and inviting. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest to create a functional and successful work space. Display some art or a happy photo on the wall to inspire you, add a pretty pen pot to your desk, a cute houseplant or even fresh flowers. I also find that a noticeboard can be invaluable for keeping reminders, appointment cards, scribbled ideas, paint swatches etc. tidy. They don’t get lost and it helps avoid desk clutter.
All Systems Go
As much as we tell ourselves that these days we could work anywhere in a paperless world, we all still have paperwork to deal with. For me its proposals, invoices, mood boards and magazines to name a few. So I make sure I have an array of sturdy magazine boxes for brochures and journals, box files for invoices, folders for client briefs etc. like these office supplies from Engelbert Strauss. I really like practical websites like this because they save me time – I can easily order online and source different essential products on the same site to suit my business needs; so as well as having the office essentials covered, I can order any tools and equipment I need for upcoming projects, such as paint brushes and rollers.
I also keep a weekly planner on my desk and a notebook. Although I do a lot of stuff on the computer, like spreadsheets, I still personally need to write lists and jot down ideas as they come to me.
Strong storage game
To keep your business running smoothly, you’ll need a stock of ink cartridges, labels, pens, paper clips, device chargers etc. These all need a home to keep you productive. Invest in some shelves, a set of drawers or a cupboard to organise everything in – your future self will thank you! There is nothing as frustrating as wasting 20 minutes on a futile hunt for something that could be so easily stored and found. There’s no excuse – simple storage boxes are a great way to keep things tidy and they are generally easy to find on the high street or online, inexpensive and can look stylish or colourful in your home office space, as well as being a practical solution.
Working at home shouldn’t feel like a horrible chore, it should be a joy! You’ll feel more motivated if you have things that appeal to you around – for me it’s little items like a decorative notebook and gel pen that writes nicely. I think you should definitely sip your coffee out of a stylish mug and if you love the smell of freesias or a scented candle, have them on your desk. I also need to feel warm and comfortable – I can’t concentrate when I’m cold, so a little heater by your feet might be your luxury treat or a gorgeous, soft cashmere jumper to go around your shoulders. What about something to look forward to for your elevensies: a caramel latte perhaps? I believe a little of what you fancy does you good!
Finally, my last tip would be to take regular short breaks to avoid aches and stiffness or eye strain. So no need to feel guilty about putting the washing on! If your day is well structured you know you’re always going to be as productive as can be.