You've got your favorite pair of pajamas on, the ones that fit just right and are so worn the fabric is super soft. You're on the sofa with your feet (encased in cozy slippers of course) propped up on the coffee table, laptop on your lap, favorite reality TV show playing (for "background noise"), and a bowl of chips and salsa propped on the arm rest. You are ON A ROLL, cruising through your To Do list, working more efficiently than you ever have in your life.
More than likely, you're cruising through your Facebook page, and pinning to your Pinterest boards more efficiently than you ever have in your life. That To Do list is making a great coaster for your glass of iced tea.
For "work from home" to succeed, there
has to be separation between work and home.
There has to be some designation between your home life and your work life. Try thinking of the two as two separate business entities.
1. Work - aka your actual company - has it's own finances, materials, clients, projects, and therefore, needs it's own space.
2. Home - aka the enter-your-last-name-here company - has it's own set of finances, materials, clients (kids? dogs?), projects (is that leaky faucet still dripping?), and already has it's own space (the entire rest of the house!)
If you don't keep the two major areas of your life separate, you'll quickly lose your mind...and possibly, your actual company too. Or you can follow these simple steps and become a lot more productive. You can just put my thank you note at the bottom of your to do list. Get to it when you get it.
STEP ONE: PUT SOME CLOTHES ON, YOUR EMBARRASSING THE NEIGHBORS
There are numerous reports about the psychological benefits of getting dressed in the morning, even when you work from home. No, don't go read them. You're distracted enough. Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Put some pants on.
STEP TWO: CARVE OUT A SPACE FOR A DESK
Having an actual home office is obviously the ideal, but not everyone has an extra room in their home that they can commandeer. My husband and I purchased a house with great bones, but it's only 900 square feet. We plan on finishing the basement and adding an addition in the future, but until one of those projects gets completed, my office space is in the master bedroom. It's not ideal, but I've set it up in a way that works for me.
If your bedroom is too small to fit a desk and you have to use living space, the key is to have the desk (and filing space, but we'll get to that) positioned in a way that you still feel separated. Position your desk looking out a window or in a corner away from the sofa. Absolutely direct your line of sight AWAY from the TV! If you have the space, you could set up a screen or hang some plants as a visual divider.
(My desk..see that sweet planning sheet there? You can pick up a copy here!)
STEP TWO: SET UP NOT ONE, BUT TWO, FILING SYSTEMS
Remember what I said about keeping your home company separate from your actual company? That goes for filing systems too. Don't have your cable bill in the same drawer as client folders. Personally, I reserve my entire desk for Creative Mess Designs and my Etsy shop. I have a large drawer with hanging folders for project files and important paperwork. I don't need a ton of space because my company is primarily electronic. Next to my desk I have an actual two-drawer filing cabinet which I use for household bills, personal paperwork, appliance and equipment manuals, etc. On top of the filing cabinet I have an inbox for mail that still needs to be sorted.
STEP THREE: DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR TO USE THE SPACE FOR WORK, AND NOTHING BUT WORK, SO HELP YOU GOD?
This is the hard part. It's so easy to slip into a rut and let your desk collect dust while you go back to working in front of the TV. Make yourself sit down at your desk every day, and keep a list of the goals you want to accomplish front and center to help motivate you.
It's also helpful to plan out blocks of work time. I'm one of those people who will keep myself up at night thinking about everything that needs to get done. I constantly have a lot of balls up in the air and keeping track of everything is critical to not missing deadlines, but also my sanity. My trick is to plan out the next day before I shut down for the night. That way I have a list of doable tasks written down and I can sleep without worrying about forgetting anything. When I sit down to work the next morning, I'm extremely productive because I already have my plan in place and I've organized my projects based on how long I have available to work before switching into mommy mode.
BONUS STEP FOUR: CHEAT, IN MODERATION
Once you have a routine that works and you have successfully separated work and home, it's ok to cheat a little. I mean, working on the sofa in your pajamas is one of the best parts of working from home, isn't it?
I'm the first one up in the morning, so even if I wanted too, I couldn't work at my desk because it would wake up my husband. I truly look forward to watching the sun rise from the big picture behind our sofa, though, and I'll probably continue even after I have an actual office. It's still one of my most productive times of the day. The rest of my work time is spent at my desk, unless I'm working late into the evening. That's when I tend to bring my laptop out to living room, so I can at least be in the same space as my husband. I just plan projects for that time that don't require my undivided attention.
Working from home can be hugely satisfying and successful. Just keep in mind that even though you don't go into an office every day, that doesn't mean your work isn't important enough to have a designated space. Make your work - and yourself - a priority. Go get 'em, Tiger!