When I mention working from home to someone who has always done the traditional 9-to-5, they immediately picture sleeping in every day, skipping out to the beach, having a spotless house, and/or never leaving their pajamas.
The flexibility of working from home sounds like nirvana — especially to introverts who crave solitary confinement during the workday — but successfully doing it takes discipline. It’s AMAZING to be home, but it’s also much harder than it sounds.
When you’re not in the office, you are your own accountability program. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of working 24/7, of skipping meals, and of being so caught up in “hustling” that you neglect the biggest asset of your business: you.
Ready for the list? Let’s dive right in:
1. Commute to Work
It’s seven steps from my side of the bed to my office which makes it really easy to lose the separation between “work” and “life” (not to mention, my steps tracker doesn’t get any love).
I make a point to “commute” to my office every work day. Usually, this means getting my son dressed, driving him to daycare, making my morning breakfast and cup of tea, reading The Skimm, and finally showering and getting dressed before powering up my computer.
If you don’t have a little one to wake you up at dawn, set your alarm clock. Do a few “you” activities, eat a good breakfast, and tryto ditch the PJs.
2. Eat Healthy Snacks
“Garbage in equals garbage out.” When you spend most of your time in comfortable surroundings, you’re more likely to slouch in your seat, forget to hydrate, and, if you’re anything like me, skip lunch because you’re on a creative roll. (Don’t do that, and if you live around Portland, Maine, you can sign up for WholeMADE Meal Shares instead).
It can be really tempting to snack during the day, particularly if you’re avoiding an unpleasant task. To combat my desire to toss back a handful of Sour Patch Kids, I avoid the candy aisle and make sure to keep healthier snacks stocked in the house. Granola, yogurt, popcorn, blueberries, apples, carrots, and fresh sugar snap peas from our garden are some of my staples.
3. Keep a Schedule
Scheduling your time takes the guesswork out of your day, helps you focus your energy, and relieves so much stress. Schedule time for client work, for exercise, for rest and relaxation, and for working on your own business (bookkeeping, marketing, blogging, etc.). I’m sure that you’ve been shown all sorts of time management tips over the years, so I won’t bore you with what you already know.
Instead, I’ll share the book Work Simply by Carson Tate, which helped me identify my personal productivity style and gave me recommendations that fit so much better with my work style than most of the things I’d been taught in the past. (One of my favorites is Asana, which allows me to plan my tasks and projects on both my computer and phone.)
4. Take Breaks
This kind of goes along with #3, but it’s so important that it needs its own mention. Take breaks. Just do it. It will stretch your tensed body, give your mind a breather, and ultimately make you more productive. The goal is to take a break from work, but, if you can, try to completely walk away from the computer. Go for a walk, retrieve the mail, hop on the treadmill, do a mini-yoga session, and fill up your water bottle!
It’s good to schedule in social time, too. It can get pretty lonely, even if you aren’t an extrovert. Plan a check in with a local entrepreneur, sign up for a networking event or class, or find other work-from-homers to talk to on Twitter chats or Facebook groups.
I’m so guilty of neglecting breaks that I downloaded BreakTime, an app that lets me work for up to 45 minutes and then locks down my computer, forcing me to walk away. It was so worth the $4.99 because I’m pretty sure it’s saving me from future physical therapy copayments.
5. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is so necessary for being a happy and healthy business owner. Family members may think that you’re easily available because you “work from home” and clients might expect instant access to you (even on the weekend) because you don’t live a 9-to-5 life. Sure, you can drop what you’re working on to answer the phone to chit-chat with your cousin about the latest episode of Project Runway and you can respond to emails at 8 p.m. after the kids have gone to bed, but do you want to?
One of my favorite features on the iPhone is Do Not Disturb (you need to enable this feature, now!) — it automatically silences my phone between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., so I can focus on having a restful night of sleep. If I respond to an email on the weekend, I set the expectation that I’m, “looking forward to talking more about this next week.” More often than not, though, I save the message in my draft folder to be sent on Monday morning.
I hope these tips help you “think healthy!” when it comes to running your home-based business. I challenge you to implement them if you haven’t already.