Many entrepreneurs, especially those in the startup phase of their companies, have a home office. While working from home certainly has its perks – the office space is free and the commute is short – it can also have its downsides. Constant distractions, lack of interaction with coworkers and undetermined working hours can interfere with your productivity.
Follow these tips and don’t let your home office interfere with your business’ success:
As much as possible, avoid answering personal phone calls or doing your laundry during the workday. Ask yourself if you would do this activity if you worked in an office. If not, then don’t do it while working at home. Jill Celeste, a work-from-home marketing coach since 2011, had to set boundaries with her mother who used to call during the workday to chat. “[Now], her call goes to voicemail and I return her call in the evening,” says Celeste.
Take a lunch break.
One of the disadvantages of working from home is the lack of a communal space (also known as the “water cooler”) where you can take breaks to recharge and refocus your energies. The good news is you can still get this recharge break while working at home. Take your dog for a walk around the block or go for a short run around lunchtime so you return to work feeling re-energized.
Dress for the job.
Your office may only be steps away from your bedroom, but that doesn’t mean you should show up to your desk in the same clothes you wore to bed. “If I work in my pajamas or sweatpants, I feel less productive and less serious about the work,” says Brian Dear, CEO and cofounder of the online-therapy startup iCouch. “It’s easier to get distracted because there’s not a mental separation between working and just being at home relaxing.”
Have a routine.
Create a workday routine just as you would in an office. “When working from home, I’ll make myself a coffee and small bite to eat before starting work, knowing that I will not stop until lunchtime,” says Simeon G. Howard, director at City Office, a worldwide virtual office and office-space provider, who regularly works from home. When working from home, it’s easy to give in to the temptation to finish work early or take an extra long lunch, but sticking to a routine is key to ensuring your home office doesn’t turn into an excuse for slacking off.
Remove home distractions.
“It’s important that your home workplace is just as serious as an office,” says Dear. Treat your home office as your office – meaning no kids toys on the floor or TV in the room. Find a place for your home office that is removed from family distractions and surround your workspace with work-related things rather than family calendars, recipe books and stacks of laundry – things that remind you of all the personal chores that need to be done. If possible, dedicate a separate room in your house to be your home office and shut the door while you’re working so everyone else in the household knows not to disturb you.
Get out of the office.
Working from home can get lonely. And when you live and work in the within the same four walls, you can easily get bored of your surroundings. Debra M. Cohen, president of Home Remedies, says she tries to devote one hour a day to doing something relaxing outside her office. “The change of scenery and social interaction helps me think more creatively and I'm much more productive when I'm back at work,” she says.