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How To Be More Effective Working From Home

Aug 17, 2007
Many of the people I work with, work from home. Balancing work within the home environment can often be difficult.

If you're a Mum working at home, you may be juggling children, family commitments, running a household and working on your business. Make life easier with these few simple guidelines.

If you're a Dad working from home, you have the added distractions of wanting to spend time with your family while keeping the focus on your business and maybe you also take on some of the household, child-care duties too.

It's good to have a structure in which to work which creates a balance between ensuring that work gets done and enjoying the flexibility of working from home without getting overwhelmed.

- Create an "office". If you don't have one already - clear a space that you can truly call your office. Maybe you currently work from the kitchen table or a corner of your living room. Is there a space you can clear which can be your office?

If you run your entire business from home, it's more than likely that you'll have a specific room that is your office.

- Does it look like your office?
- Does it reflect your business?
- Do you have everything you need to hand?

Perhaps your office also double as a spare room, junk room or storage area. Is it neatly arranged or are you surrounded by boxes and other clutter?

What could you do to improve the environment in which you work? Keep papers in files and folders that you can put away at the end of the day. Have clear space around you as you work.

- Keep to your office hours. You can be flexible with your working day but don't be tempted to blur the lines between your work life and your home life too much. By all means take breaks during the day to have some 'home' life, or time to get chores done. But place a time limit around these. Set a fixed start time and finish time to your working day.

Think about why you have chosen to work from home instead of working in an office. If you want to have a day or half day a week when you don't work, then do that. Book it out in your diary at the beginning of the week or month.

You should be enjoying your time not struggling to juggle home life with work life. And that applies even if you do work in an office.

- Set boundaries around your time. Have an answer machine you switch on outside of office hours.

Just because the phone rings - you don't have to answer it immediately.
Just because an email arrives in your inbox - you don't have to reply to it immediately.

At least not straight away. Schedule time each day to attend to these tasks and you'll be using your time more effectively.

Don't allow yourself to get into the habit of working all hours - late into the evening or on weekends just because your office is at home, only a few feet away and you can just 'pop in' to check emails.

- Set boundaries with other people in your life. If you're in your office - you are working. If you get distracted, take a complete break and then get back into work mode. Be mindful of other people around you - if you're at home, they may expect you to be more involved. Explain when you can and when you need space, time or some peace and quiet.

Set the boundaries in the beginning and it will make it easier for everyone.

- Working from home can bring a certain amount of guilt - you either feel guilty because you should be working when you are spending time with your family or you feel guilty when your working that you should be with your family.

Working for yourself is hard enough - don't be your own worst enemy and feel that you have to work all hours. You don't. Give yourself a break and keep some perspective on your work life balance. If you want to work four days a week, so you get to spend more time with your family, then do that! What's stopping you? Probably yourself.

Enjoy working at home and don't let it become a burden.
About the Author
Clare writes on several topics to help busy, stressed individuals and small business owners organise their lives more effectively.

Register for her monthly newsletter at www.clareevans.co.uk and receive free tips on managing your time.
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