Tips for homeworkers

Yahoo made headlines recently when it sent out an email saying that all workers must be working in the office by June. Apparently working from home is detrimental to work quality and creativity.

It is a personal thing, and working from home, particularly when you’re freelancing isn’t for everyone. It has got its pros – no commuting, no office politics and no wondering what I’m going to wear to the office. The cons are you’re on your own and you do need a lot of self-discipline. I’ve been working from home for nearly 15 years now and have developed a few methods to keep my mind on the job.

  1. Have ‘to do’ list, but try to schedule what needs doing. Often easier said than done when things crop up, but it’s a nice feeling when you get to the end of the day and you can cross off some of those things on the ‘to do’ list – even if there are a few more things added to it!
  1. Stay professional. Even though you’re at home and in a relaxed environment, don’t get sloppy with clients. You may well be sat in a pair of trackie pants with no makeup, but it’s hard to be taken seriously if a new client can hear a screaming child or blaring music in the background (unless of course you’re in the music industry). Plus they may question whether you have the time for them. Also, if you’re having video calls, be aware of what’s in the background! 
  1. Do you feel more focused if you’re dressed up or dressed down? I personally dress casually when I’m at home, but I don on the suit when meeting clients. Some fellow freelancers have found that wearing ‘office style’ clothes makes them more productive.
  1. Set your working day parameters. Let everyone know you’ll be working at these set times so they know not to interrupt you. Would you have a half hour telephone conversation with a friend if you were in an office? Would you faff around on facebook in the office?
  1. Have dedicated work space. That way when you enter it, you know you’re ‘going to work’, and so does everyone else in the household. Shut the door to this room at the end of the day so you can be ‘at home’ in the evening. If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, try to keep the ‘work corner’ away from your living space and tidy it away as much as possible when you’ve finished.
  1. Have a routine. Routines can be hard sometimes, but I find leaving the house for an early morning walk before turning on the computer makes me far more focused than if I haven’t left the house. It is also important you know when to shut down. If you have a laptop and want to go online for personal emails, banking, research etc in the evening, try sitting in a different area of the house to do this, and don’t be tempted to ‘just do a bit of work’ whilst you’re online. You can always write down what you need to do and add it to the list for the following day.
  1. Do network. There are plenty of online business-networking opportunities; some are free such as linkedin.com. Many have groups you can join relevant to your business. These websites are great for advice and tips and asking other professionals for help. However, set allocated times to network on these websites and don’t get sidetracked into joining all the discussions. I am also a member of a couple of ‘real’ networking groups so do actually meet people. This is great for making new contacts, new ideas and potentially getting new business.
  1. Stay motivated. We all have days where we hit the email ‘send receive’ button a gazillion times, spend hours staring at the monitor opening and closing various windows and shuffling piles of paper around. In an office, a boss looking over your shoulder can soon kick you into action, but if you’re working from home, you need to find other methods to boost your productivity. I’ve found taking a break does help. Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity so take a short walk at lunch. The half hour spent away from the pc will result in far more work in the afternoon.
  1. Stay focused. Easier said than done, but when I’ve slipped into faffing on Facebook or other social networking sites with the excuse of ‘I’m sat at my computer therefore I must be working’ phase, I simply remember my greatest mantra, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid!

Tips for homeworkers
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