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Is “Home Office” an Oxymoron? Tips on Being Productive Working from Home

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Stephanie Davis

Working from home certainly has its  benefits – flexibility, saving time by not commuting, and increased work / life balance, to name a few. However, achieving that work/life balance, particularly when working from home, is often easier said than done. Things can get complicated when you are trying to manage your small business from your home and still be present for your family and friends. 

To make sure that you are effectively managing that balancing act between family time and work, consider incorporating these steps into your work from home routine:

  • Switch out of the PJs. As tempting as it is to lounge around and work in your comfiest clothes (or simply stay in your pajamas), studies have shown that people who ditch the pajamas or yoga pants for actual clothes tend to be more productive. Are you making cold calls or dealing with other important business calls? Studies also suggest throwing on a blazer or something you consider to be a “power outfit” because it will get you in the right headspace for important conversations. The added benefit? If a last minute video conference or in-person meeting pops up, you won’t be delayed or unable to attend because you have to shower and get dressed.
  • Carve out a designated space for your work. It might be tempting to set up shop in bed, on your couch, or at your breakfast bar, but having a designated space to do your work is important. It gives you a structured area to focus on managing your business, and draws a visual boundary for family, friends, and roommates that when you are in that place, you are working. By having this sense of structure, it will be easier to avoid distractions that can creep into your work. Create a functional area that works for your business needs. Beyond serving as a signal to others that you are in your “office” (even if that is a corner of your dining room table that you’ve set up with a laptop, printer, and post-it pads), it will also help you get into the work frame of mind and separate yourself mentally from the home distractions that would normally clutter up your thoughts.
  • Stick to a routine. To kick off your day, you might have your coffee while watching the news or workout before evaluating your to-do list. Whatever your preferred morning routine is, stick to it and start your day the same every day. By having an established routine, you will likely see your productivity levels increase and have an easier time getting tasks complete. When you’re working from home, it could also be helpful to have a routine that gets you on track to enjoy your night and decompress from work. Since you are working from home, you can’t really leave your work at the office, so it’s important to develop and commit to a routine that has defined start and end times, in order to mimic the natural cadence of an office work day and allow you to have time for your life. Without a commuting break, you may even want to find ways to unwind before you start spending time with your friends and family, whether that’s changing into non-work clothes, getting in a workout, listening to a quick podcast, or reading the news.
  • Make time for your family, friends and hobbies. Running a small business from your home can be isolating at times and make it all the harder to separate from work. To avoid burnout it’s important to keep other areas of your life active. Plan a weekly lunch date with a friend, make a commitment or schedule to do all of your errands right after work one day a week, schedule happy hours with groups of friends, commit to a regular family dinner time. When you feel cut off from everyone you care about and only focus on work your productivity and motivation can decrease. Your business should be your livelihood, not your whole life.  

Bottom Line

The great thing about working from home is the flexibility. Finding that sweet spot between work and home will fuel more success and productivity in both aspects of your life and ultimately make you happier across the board.

Do you work from home? Share some of your tips by tweeting us @SurePayroll.