10 golden rules for working from home

Having the flexibility to be able to work from home is considered the holy grail of self-employment; you can plan your days to suit you and eliminate that mind-numbing commute. All of this is great, but if you find yourself spending less time working and more time stalking friends on Facebook – what’s the point?

The key to success when working from home is staying productive in an environment where, if you were so inclined, you could spend the day in your PJs watching YouTube videos of cute cats (we’ve all been there). So, to ensure you’re getting the most from your working situation, we’ve put together a few golden rules:

1. Create a dedicated workspace

One of the luxuries of working from home is not having to endure dull office interiors – but that shouldn’t mean you spend all day in bed with your laptop and a vat of coffee. By creating your own dedicated workspace away from your bed, it will make separating your personal and professional life that much easier.

2. List your priorities

To help you stay focused and on top of your game, take 10 minutes every morning to write a list of priorities for that day. Working your way through this list will give your day structure, as well as providing you with a useful reminder of what needs doing. Why not invest in a white board so you can see your list at all times and check off tasks as you go along?

3. Stick to a schedule

Another perk to home-working is that you can work when you want, not when society dictates. While this is handy, it doesn’t mean you should sleep in every morning and work into the early hours of the morning. Try to set up a schedule that works with your natural rhythms – for example, if you feel at your most productive in the morning, plan your most important tasks then and leave afternoons free for admin/research.

4. Get dressed

We know, we know – the temptation to stay in your pyjamas all day is pretty hard to resist, but trust us when we say get dressed! Putting on a smart(ish) outfit will make you feel like you are ‘at’ work and will help you feel more productive.

5. Take breaks

When you work in an office, there is usually a dedicated lunch-time slot and a dedicated staff room to escape your computer – at home, it is up to you to remember to take breaks. Make sure you take at least 30 minutes away from your computer screen and if possible get out of the house for a walk.

6. Remove distractions

Without a manager watching over you, it is easy to get distracted. If you find these distractions are affecting your work – get rid of them! (Unless these distractions are your children, you’ll probably want to keep hold of them). Turn your mobile off, stick your headphones in and avoid all non-work related websites.

7. Close the door

Sometime friends and family members don’t quite understand the dynamics of home-working and may think nothing of interrupting you throughout the day. Make sure you tell loved ones when your hours of work are and then… close the door.

8. Know when to stop

When your days begin to lose their structure, it can be difficult to know when to stop working. Set yourself an ‘end’ time and be strict with yourself, working for too long will only stress you out and getting a good night’s sleep is far more important for your health and well-being.

9. Don’t return to work when you’ve finished

To help you switch off from your working day, make a promise to yourself that you will not return to work when the day is over. If inspiration strikes, jot down some notes and look at it the following morning. Take this time to rest, catch up with family/friends or indulge in a hobby you’re passionate about.

10. Get out and socialise

Working from home can be a solitary existence, so it is important to get out of the house from time to time and socialise. Why not connect with others working in the same industry as you and meet up for a weekly coffee? Then you can socialise and bounce some ideas around at the same time – win-win.