This month’s guest post is from Annabelle Beckwith of Yara Consulting and Coach Me Confident. I met Anna on our very first day at University (ahem) years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Anna was always the dynamic, arty one, full of ideas and enthusiasm, whereas I was more of a plodder. I don’t think either of us would have thought that, (ahem) years on, we’d both be running our very different businesses! Anna’s company Yara offers innovative and exciting training methods that really work – she’s been doing it longer than me, and working full-time from home, so many of us could benefit from her tips for making a home office work well and smoothly. Over to you, Anna …
Working From Home – 5 top tips
Several years ago, I worked from a rather expensive city centre office, in the mistaken belief that it would impress my clients. Sitting on the crowded commuter train one morning, it occurred to me that working from home would be a far more sensible option, cutting down massively on costs and travel and, well … just making an awful lot more sense.
Working from home, of course, has massive advantages – the flexibility and the comfort factor among them. It does, though need a different mindset. Here are my top 5 tips for anyone thinking of working from home:
1. Get organised!
If, like me, you’re not the world’s tidiest person, you will need to exert some self discipline to keep your work in order. This will range from organising your work space (so you don’t scatter things around the house and end up losing half of it), to ensuring that you have some sort of filing system, to making sure that you keep track of your finances.
It might seem like a bit of a faff to spend time at the beginning setting up a few systems, but believe me, it will be time well invested, and you’ll feel the benefit of it later on!
2. Set your goals
Two big areas for me at the start of my working-from-home career were goal setting and prioritising. The freedom of working from home can be such that it’s easy to end up running round like a headless chicken, doing lots of ‘stuff’ but not actually achieving anything.
Make sure you have clear goals about what you want to achieve, and devise a plan or schedule that will enable you to keep track of it all, and get the work done.
3. Learn to prioritise
Prioritisation is another key area for the home-worker: with no-one else telling you what to do, it’s important that you prioritise the right tasks. Avoid the temptation to do the things you like doing, or can get out of the way quickly and prioritise on the basis of how urgent and/or important something is (Steven Covey). Brian Tracy’s book ‘Eat That Frog’ is a good one on this subject.
4. Find your balance
When I first started working from home, people would say to me, “how do you deal with all the distractions?” as if the lure of daytime TV or endless cups of tea might overwhelm the necessity to actually do some work.
I’m sure that most home-workers will find that the reverse is true: it can actually be difficult to switch off. I often find myself writing blogs or e-mails later in the evening, when my kids are asking me to spend time with them.
Don’t lose sight of the reason for actually working from home in the first place (in my case, to be able to spend more time with my kids). Make sure you strike a healthy balance.
5. Join a network
One of the drawbacks of working from home – particularly if you’re working full time – is that you don’t have the advantage of being able to socialise with colleagues. Join some networks – online ones like LinkedIn are great, but find some that have local meetings and will enable you to make some new contacts and meet other people in the same boat.
Who knows – it may even lead to more business!
If you’ve enjoyed this guest post, you can find more like it, including a great recent series on goal-setting, on the Yara blog.