If you’re even slightly long in the tooth, the likelihood is you’ve come to working from home after a long stint in the corporate world.
You’re familiar with the bureaucracy and hierarchy that any self-respecting corporate environment enjoys, and wrangled over stationery and who gets the best armchair, and sailed through the joys of going to the bathroom for an extended period while on flex-time.
Working from home after years in this corporate environment can be a culture shock, to say the least.
You wake up one morning and the alarm hasn’t gone off, because you never set it.
Your partner has probably sailed off to work, leaving you snoozing…when you are supposed to be working from home.
You get up, and you are faced with the daunting prospect of a full day working from home, with nothing to structure it but your own governance.
As a working from home person myself, I’ve discovered some techniques for combating the inertia which can set in when you finally take the plunge and shift from the rat race to working from home…
Work out what you want to achieve
You have an idea of where your company is headed.
Visualise the end product, and then track back from there. Develop a business plan which maps out the specific steps needed to get to where you need to be. This helps focus your activities and stop you from procrastinating.
Write a strict schedule
Humans work best when we have a routine to keep to.
Try writing a ‘working from home’ schedule which mirrors a corporate working day. Get up at a specific time, factor in things such as when you are at your best and plan to do onerous tasks then.
Most people are sharpest in the morning – work with your personal strengths to achieve more. Don’t forget simple things such as taking breaks and getting exercise to break up your day.
Be kind to yourself
The corporate environment operates on systems of reward and incentive.
Working from home needs to be exactly the same.
What benefit will you get, if you apply yourself for three hours solid?
This could be something silly like having a great coffee, a lovely lunch or rewarding yourself with a nap!
Set apart a specific work area
It can be tempting while working from home to let your office spill in to other areas of the house.
What can be better than blogging in the living area, watching television and sitting with the dog?
The problem is, this isn’t conducive to a good routine or strict working practices.
Keep your office confined to a single room, and this will make it easier for you to get up, shut the door and walk away at the end of your working day.
Know when to switch off
There is nothing worse than a new business owner who works on.
In the end, you’ll either burn out or lose productivity unless you learn to draw a line under your day.
Switch off the laptop of PC, and walk away. Your job will still be there in the morning – remember to take time out.
Don’t let domestic tasks distract you
Just because your home is your new office, doesn’t mean it has to take over.
There may be some difficulties when you initially start working form home, for example you feel obliged to do the laundry, cook dinner or clean every day just because you are there.
Remember that you are running a business, and learn to switch off from household activities during your set work hours.
Establish your most productive time, and cash in on it
When are you at your peak, when it comes to working?
If you’re an early bird, re-shape your working hours to accommodate this. You own your schedule now, so if 9-5 isn’t your best work routine, feel free to change it!
If your creative juices flow best at a specific time, schedule your tasks around this. There’s no rule that says you can’t work in ‘shifts’ to cater to your personal preferences, as long as you know when to call it a day.
Have you moved from corporate world to working from home?
How was the transition for you?
Please share your views in the comments below. Thanks.
Great tips. I have been working from “home” for over seven years now and you are dead on correct with all of your tips.
The most important parts are setting an “area” and “time” to work. You need to be strict with yourself on these things or it is way to easy to procrastinate. You need to remember that even though home “work” time is Time to work.
Proper planning and those strict rules for yourself will help greatly with this hopefully!
You must have working from home pretty nailed!
What did you do before?
You talk about creating a strict schedule for yourself. I have found that I am much more productive when I just work from a To-Do list rather than trying to follow a strict schedule. When I try to force myself to follow a schedule, I end up pushing back against the feeling that I absolutely have to do something right at that time. When I allow myself the flexibility to do the work whenever so long as it gets done, then I am a much happier, much more productive person.
Yes you must have some method of organization though or you will regret it in a big way.
Perhaps ‘strict’ was the wrong word to use!
What I was trying to say was…don’t just get up and think, “Ok…what shall I do today?”
Have a plan of action and that can be simply a to-do list.
Thanks for your strictly & useful sharing about “culture shock” for working at home.
I just wonder whether working at home 100% could let us isolated with the world outside?
Working from home 100% could make you isolated.
But although I work from home most days, I also visit the local coffee shop, networking meetings…plus there is Skype and Facebook.
That all stops you being isolated.
I have a diary in which I have a “To Do List” and so I can see at the end of the day if I have achieved what I have wanted to. Also I write down the hours I have worked for the day to see if I have gone overboard and done too much!
I love working from home but you do need to be disciplined as there are heaps of distractions. Wouldn’t have it any other way. I am loving it even with all the bumps in the road I have experienced in the past few months.
Patricia Perth Australia
The bumps in the road (as long as they are not craters) are what makes working from home exciting!
I was Skyping this am with someone and she said, “Aren’t we lucky…being able to work from home”.
I said, “We are very, very lucky”.
I jot down my things-to-do list on a small paper or piece of booklet so I would know which things I should do for the day. Some people are productive in the afternoon or at night, as for them it is more peaceful while there are others who are day persons and can perform at their best in the morning until afternoons. Working from home can be a blessing, but it definitely needs discipline. Probably the best thing about working from home is that you can set your own working time and still be at home together with the family. If your kids are at school, your spouse is at the office, and everyone else is out of the house, then you’re the one who gets to guard the house, aside from your family dog. 🙂
I just love the felxibility. I do work hard…but I can work hard…when I want to.
I AM THE BOSS! Lol
We got a lot of distraction from visitors or friends, because they don’t know your routine or working time. Personal phone calls will come anytime to ask you out for coffee.
And how do you respond?
I am still working fulltime in corporate work, i am so envy that some can work full time at home. Though there is some pitfall to work at home, but you can have your own schedule, e.g work at midnihgt when it is quiet. You just need to have “self dicipline” and strong motivation to work at home.
Are you working an a plan B – to get out of the corporate world?
I was a bit confused about the title but then when i read the post it made more sense. Well done and great article!
Nice post. One thing you mentioned was a way to avoid procrastination. I recently posted about it. Depending on the type of work you do, procrastination can be a good thing – if it leads to creativity. Obviously it’s only good if you actually get something done eventually 🙂
In any case, working from home is definitely where industry in general is heading. The same applies for more flexible working hours.
Thanks again for the post.
Thanks for the comment – nice to see you here…oh and the tips on procrastination.
Thanks Andrew. I’ve been reading your posts for a while (your site is in my RSS reader), but I think this is the first time I’ve commented
You have commented on my other blog: http://www.greatmanagement.org/
Thanx for the great advice! I have been working at home anly a few months and all this is new to me. It’s been like a yo yo, with days when I work 12+ hrs and others when I don’t even look at my computor. Of course I need structer! Thanx for reminding me with some great tips!
I think we all go through that sort of stage.
It takes discipline…especially when you are the boss.
My work from home attitude has been the same since 2007, the last time I ever had a real job. It was some what of a shock, but I sooner or later got use to it and schedule a plan to get tasked done.
Just remember to keep all TV’s off, because they really can get you off..especially CNN
“TrafficColeman “Signing Off”
I hardly watch any TV. When not working…I like to read.
For me I do well when I do create a strict schedule otherwise I am just sitting around doing nothing and wasting time
Same for me. The thought of getting up and no knowing what I have planned for the day is just ripe for procrastination.
It took me a while to get used to the idea of a to do list – and also keeping my eye on the clock to make sure some activities (like commenting on blogs) don’t take up too much time.
But my biggest problem is switching off. I recently spent a whole day away from the computer and realized I hadn’t done that for a VERY long time.
I LOVE writing, and I love working from home, but I need to work at the whole switch off thing because I don’t seem to know when to stop.
I have a few days like that…not being able to swtich off. I’ve just had 2 weeks off and this week has been full of those sort of days…so far!
I also think it’s a good idea to have a laptop exclusively for work and one for your leisure activities. This helps me a lot in focusing on work as my work laptop doesn’t contain the apps that can distract me.
Interesting point, Julius.
I’ve never really thought of that…perhaps it’s because I don’t do leisure stuff on the laptop.
What sort of things do you do that you class as leisure?
Your post resonates with me. My husband and I have always been self-employed and every point you make is poignant. Being able to turn off business at the appropriate time, and turn it back on is the key to having an office at home.
I must admit…sometimes it is ahrd to turn off for me.
Strict schedule, strict schedule, strict schedule, I’ll be sure to remember that! That’s my current weakness at the moment, since I’m busy with other stuffs as well, though mostly, I always tell myself that I’ll write at this particular time, but other things come out and I then need to reschedule writing. With every thing else, I guess I’m good with them. I always give rewards to myself, especially when it’s pay day 🙂 By the way, the last tip was remarkable 🙂 It’s worth sharing with others.
If a strict schedule doesn’t work, try a list of strict objectives. Complete the list whenever you like, across the course of the day.
Nice article, I agree with your above points. I’m not sure how long in the tooth I am, but with more years working for myself than in the corp world the one thing I believe to be important is;
Insisting on completely the 1 task that matters each day, which task will bring me closer towards my goal, everything else is rubbish (I’m a massive believer in 80/20 rule).
You raise an excellent point.
Making sure everything you do each day is making you closer to your goal.
Quite hard to do but something we should all be striving for.