One of the things I love most about BCPWN is the varied and rich backgrounds and working styles of our members. I can count on at least two hands my fellow members who operate their businesses from their home offices. I think many would agree that there are pluses and minuses to when your commute is as quick as a walk up your living room staircase.
I’ve been running a virtual public relations and social media agency for about 6 years now. At first, it was a major change for me from the day to day of working in a corporate environment. The biggest challenge was – and if I’m being completely transparent, continues to be – setting BOUNDARIES.
Over the years, I’ve benefited from the advice from many of the coaches here in BCPWN, and presentations from organizational experts on the importance of setting boundaries, and how to do that in a work from home scenario. Here are a few tips that have worked for me:
- 1. Communicate: I make sure to share my posted office hours with those close to me. This is important for those times when I may have a very important conference call and when a pop-by visit or phone call from a friend is just off-limits. By simply being clear about my availability and when I CAN return a call, accept a visit or meet up for lunch has made a world of difference.
- 2. Put on your blinders: On my way up the stairs to my home office, there are times I’m distracted by the pile of laundry in my bedroom that needs to be folded, or the reminder that my son needs shin guards for soccer when I pass his room, or that the baby’s drawers full of outgrown clothes need to be reorganized and sorted. And then I put on my blinders, head directly to my office and shut the door, make a list on paper of these above to-dos and set it aside for several hours later.
- 3. Take a Brain Break: I read somewhere recently that you shouldn’t do the same activity for more than 20-30 minutes without taking a break. This can easily be applied to those working outside the home as well, and am proud to report that I abide by this rule on a daily basis. I find it especially effective after sitting on a long conference call. Get up, get a fresh glass of water, grab a snack, take a quick walk, or just stretch – spend about 10 minutes just doing something ELSE. It will improve your concentration and productivity.
- 4. Find a Creative Spot: Every now and then I need to get OUT of my home office to keep my creative juices flowing. I’ll head to an area café or a local bookstore, plug in and get to work. I don’t mind the background chatter or hustle and bustle around me and enjoy emerging from my little home office cave for a few hours.
- 5. Power Down: I’m working hard at enforcing this rule, but during key hours of my workday, I do completely power down to focus on family, dinner, my home, etc. I find that I’m much happier, balanced and productive when I can keep the boundary in place where work doesn’t spill over into family/me time. This is a work in progress (for many of us, right?)
I’m curious to hear from those within BCPWN who work from home – what tips do you have for an effective work experience? Please comment below.
Groupe a la Mode LLC