I’m not. Nearly 30 years I’ve worked as an independent contractor, only to find myself (like many others) sitting around and twiddling my thumbs and watching informational webinars on likely changes to the industry. That’s a tough place to be for someone who is not used to being idle.
If you’re working remotely, by now you’ve figured out you need to have dedicated space to work. I’m guessing most people have carved out a spot in the living room or kitchen and set up their workstation. Because you (along with most everyone else) are assuming (hoping) that you’ll be returning to your office to work in the near future, you’ve probably just made good enough work well enough for you.
This approach is not sustainable. Again, I’m guessing you’ve probably come to that conclusion yourself. The thing is, there has been a lot of chatter that some businesses are finding that certain positions are working well remotely, and they may actually ask you to continue working remotely when things return to normal. If you think you may fit that category, I have some recommendations for you based on personal experience.
Basic tips to stay on track
Working for myself and having a home-based office since 1993, I’ve pretty much run into every possible challenge you’ll have when you begin working from home (what’s now been coined “working remotely”). I’ll let you in on a few tips that may seem obvious, but trust me, it will seem to be an uphill battle until you adopt some rules and lay down the law.
Find a room that you can close the door to. This is an absolute MUST if you are going to be working from home for any length of time.
Enforce the “closed door” rule. Everyone in the house needs to understand and accept that a closed door is equal to you not being home. I cannot stress this enough. If you were at your office at your place of business, I guarantee you that no one would be calling you to ask where their XYZ is; however, unless you enforce this rule, I can also guarantee you that you’ll have someone popping in asking you any number of random things that could have waited (and would have waited) until you got home from work.
If at all possible, don’t have your workspace right outside your bedroom or in your bedroom. Psychologically, you’ll never truly get away from work. Every time you walk in your bedroom or out of your bedroom, you’ll see work and the impulse to do “one more thing” will hit you… or you’ll be reminded that you’re behind on a deadline and just feel stressed out about it.
Set work hours and stick to them. I know some businesses are monitoring remote setups to ensure their employees are working. But, if you’re like me, you know what you need to do and you’re working anyhow… also, if you’re like me, you tend to get on a roll and not stop. Set limitations or you’ll find yourself working just because it’s there and it’s on your mind.
Take advantage of the fact that you’re working from home and implement simply daily chores into quick work breaks. When you need to get up and stretch and walk around a bit, throw a load of laundry in the washer. Go back, work a while, and when the washer buzzes, get up for another stretch to throw them in the dryer. Repeat when it’s time to fold the dry clothes. You can do this without negatively impacting your work schedule because you’re multi-tasking in a productive fashion that does not take away from your work routine. Perhaps you take a lunch break and walk the dog or spend a half hour outside with the kids. Do what works for you – but keep those breaks within the confines of a regular office schedule.
The most important tip of all
These are just a few tips that I’ve found work for me throughout the years. The hardest one, frankly, is the “closed door” rule. I still to this day, after nearly 30 years, struggle with this one. I know that’s my own personal challenge to overcome – I tend to want to always put what my family needs first and ahead of whatever it is I’m working on. There’s a balance to be found there if you don’t want to be constantly frustrated.
I hope this has helped, or maybe even reinforced what you’ve already discovered for yourself. If you have additional tips, drop them in the comments. We can all learn from each other ~
From columnist to blogger, Tina began writing in 2015. She blends the various bits of her life — professional, entrepreneurial, and personal — and shares her experiences with you.
Tina's Coffee Break became the means for her to express herself on seemingly random subjects, but subjects that are on her mind and in her heart at the moment — things we can all relate to many times.
Simply put, Tina writes about life’s moments.
Tina has managed her court reporting business for over 20 years. She owned her community newspaper for several years where she first discovered her love for writing through her weekly newspaper column, "Tina's Coffee Break." She was a member of her community's town council for six years, the last three presiding over it as president. Drawing from all facets of her life experience, Tina now provides business strategy guidance to others working to build their own success story.
A mother of two, wife for 32 years, and businesswoman of 25 years, a piece of Tina is in everything she writes.