Working From Home (5 Ways to Make it Work)

Motivation and Drive

Working from home is tough, but you know that already, right?

I’m sure you’ve read many an article or list post promising to give you a golden toolbox that’ll propel you into history as the greatest home worker ever born. Want to know the problem in searching for the ultimate answer? Well I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, there isn’t one. Want to know how you can still become an amazing home worker? Then read on fellow web enthusiast.

If you’re the sort of person who loves to be social and see people everyday then this lifestyle isn’t for you. However don’t be put off. You don’t need to be a hermit in order to make a respectable living by working from home. Sometimes you just need a little more motivation and drive than your cubicle working counterparts to succeed.

1.) Keep Everything Scheduled

Up until a year or two ago I didn’t have much faith in to-do lists but it got to a point where I was forgetting to do things on projects which got me into trouble. I now storm the day with the help of Wunderlist.

It may seem tempting to put only work related things in there and move on, but that’s not the end of it. Put all your personal tasks in there as well to make sure you’re always on track with whatever needs to be done.

Of all the decent web designers and developers I’ve spoken to they all use task management of some sort to keep track of their days. Some even use paper. It just depends on what works. However keeping track of your day is one thing, actually getting those tasks completed is another thing entirely, which brings me to my next point.

2.) Have Goals and Rewards

Remember when you were a child and you’d do something right to get a treat? OK not all of us got a treat but the principal applies more than ever when you’re working for yourself and following your own structure.

Having rewards at the end of the work-week (or even work-day) can give you a massive boost in getting tasks done and stopping procrastination kicking in.

I like playing video games. My reward is if I work hard to get everything on my to-do list done that day, when I sign off for the evening I can boot up Batman Arkham City (or Asylum…or Origins). If I don’t work hard and slack off then no games for me.

The point of the story is to give yourself something attainable, but also something you really enjoy doing. For you it might be skiing or classic movies. It’ll make sure procrastination stays away and productivity levels are high the next day when you know there’s a golden carrot waiting for you.

3.) Be Reliable

Don’t be the sort of flaky web designer that gives our industry a bad name. If you won’t be around tomorrow then let your client know. Don’t just expect them to figure it out on their own.

What I’m getting at here is to not just be reliable some or most of the time but to be reliable from start to finish. It’s all well and good a client saying they enjoyed working with you but it’s another thing to actually make a client want to work with you.

Just make yourself log into Skype every morning at a specified time and come off at specified time in the afternoon/evening. I used to go offline for lunch but now leave myself logged in on my phone and just set my status to ‘Away’. If I’m in the middle of an interesting article I don’t have to reply straight away. I’m on my lunch break so I shouldn’t have to. At least I can reply within the next hour or two and my clients (and colleagues) get to know me as being super reliable and easy to get in touch with.

You’d be surprised how this ‘small touch’ can pay off down the road.

4.) Create Rules (Hardcore Rules!)

Like many of you I struggled to get into the perfect rhythm when I first started working from home. After a while I came to realise the one thing missing in my lovely little freelance lifestyle was a set of rules, but not for me, for others around me.

Here are my rules that people around me best stick to or I won’t be pleased (OK it doesn’t bother me too much but they don’t need to know that):

  1. Pretend I’m not here (if you here me upstairs just pretend it’s a burglar)
  2. Keep out of my office at all times unless it an emergency
  3. Do not talk to me if I leave my office to go to the bathroom
  4. You can text/message me, but no more than once or twice that day
  5. Do NOT call me

The last one is tricky because sometimes people forget but if you’re blunt enough the first few times it sinks in. I know it’s not nice to be that way, especially with family, but it’s sometimes hard for people to take working from home seriously and you need to make them understand that your livelihood is at stake.

5.) Get Out and Enjoy Yourself

One of these tips was to give yourself rewards after a hard days work. You could even go one better by going bowling or seeing a new film.

It doesn’t even have to be big either. You could go for a nice walk or meet up with some friends. The whole point is to get out of the house, otherwise you start feeling trapped, which leads to isolation, which eventually leads to procrastination.

A lot of home workers I know tend to treat themselves way too often to supplement being stuck at home all the time and then struggle to feel accomplished when they go somewhere nice as treat. Once you start feeling ‘trapped’ at home it’s time to re-think what you’re doing. Remember working from home isn’t for everyone but those of us that do it and are good at it worked hard to get where we are.

Here are a few great ways to get out of the house:

  • Bike ride – My wife and I go on bike rides all the time and it’s a fantastic way to get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Walk – Sometimes taking a stroll around the road and back is a great way to relieve any frustrations you may be having with your workload.
  • Quietly reading – I’d recommend getting a Kindle or iPad for this. I use a Kindle Fire HD and don’t know what I’d do without it. Just being able to get away from my office and learn something from someone elses perspective really gets the creative juices flowing.
  • Go out for lunch – When the morning drags and the afternoon is looming it’s a good idea to leave the house and office behind at lunchtime. I like to ride down to my local Costa and get something to eat while I’m there. This way I feel a little more connected. You get bonus points for taking your laptop and working there all afternoon.

Conclusion

Working from home is both amazing and dreadful at times. At the end of everyday just sit back in your chair, or walk over to the window if you’re a standing desk kinda’ person, and think about how great life is that you get to work in your own office, on your own terms and in exactly the way you want.

I hope you enjoy working from home because I know I certainly do!



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