Friday, 10 April 2015

Working From Home Series- Ten Tips on How to Actually Get Work Done

I previously posted a broad guideline as to getting started with working from home.

So now you have all your ducks in a row, business registrations sorted, a website and a home office. How do you manage to practically get things done from home?

  • Do not fall into the trap of slumping on the couch in your pyjamas or tracksuit every day. You may be able to afford to sleep in for a few more minutes as you do not need to beat morning traffic, but start your day as if you are going to the office. Shower, get dressed, put on your make up (if you usually wear make up). It may just be a mindset thing but you will feel more productive and more confident.
  • Plan, plan, plan. You should have set goals for the month, for the week and set a (flexible) schedule at the beginning of each day setting out what you need to achieve for the day. Be realistic and make provisions for any disruptions in your day that you know are going to occur (like school pick ups or doctors appointments). Similarly, figure out when your most productive times are and schedule key tasks for those times. Then- stick to your plan.

  • That having been said, life happens and you have to accept that. Especially if you are a parent, there will be days where a cranky, teething baby or a school emergency derail your plans completely. Have a plan B, see to the most urgent tasks at hand, manage any expectations from clients by keeping them informed of any deadline shifts and then get back on track the next day.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. As you might not physically be seen every day like those who work in offices or retail spaces, it is easy for potential clients to forget that you are there. While you do not want to harass people or appear to be spamming, some gentle reminders that you are there are crucial. This does not have to be direct marketing, perhaps posting an article on LinkedIn or forwarding a joke or article of interest to a client will mean that they remember you when your services are needed. Hopefully, the next time they need the services that you provide, you will be the first person they have in mind.
  • Speak to others who have started similar businesses (possibly in a different area if it is a fiercely competitive market). While this may seem intimidating, they will likely be honored that you consider them as role-models. 
  • To use your time most efficiently, diarise intensive work slots where you are completely focused on the task at hand with no distractions. Use these slots for more complex tasks. It is easy to think you can multitask, but distractions such as having the television or radio on or even social media feeds can hamper productivity. Log out of Facebook and Twitter completely during these slots unless you need to be active on there right then for work purposes.
  •  Be flexible in your working hours. If late nights or 5 am is your best chance to get work done, then work at those times. However, you also need to be available during regular hours so that your clients can actually communicate with you.
  • Delegate where possible. For example, if you can afford to get help with the housework a couple of times a week (or to watch kids for a short while), you can free up valuable time to get work done.
  • Use technology to free more time. Use your laptop, smartphone or tablet to enable you to work while getting other tasks done. Have Wifi available across your property so that you can send off emails etc while watching your children play outside.
  • If you are working with your children around, set boundaries for older children (for example that they need to be quiet if mommy is on the phone). Have pre-planned activities ready for them to keep themselves happily amused with minimal adult assistance. With babies, a wrap may be a good hands-free investment. Use nap times to your advantage to get the most done.