10 Tips for Working at Home

I love working from home.

I have found that there are some rules that should be followed in order to keep your sanity and be productive.  The following are ten of my rules.

1.  Take a shower and get dressed for the day.  I regret it every time I break it this rule.  It never fails that if I start working before I get dressed, I will get busy and suddenly be late for something or someone will come to the door and I am not dressed.  It is so easy to just start working and think that you will break in a little while to get dressed.  Don’t do it – just get ready for the day.   Take it from my experience and the experience of other people who work at home. 

2.  Set a routine for yourself.  Deciding on a routine will let your brain know that it is time to concentrate on work.  Follow the same routine every work day.  Just like if you were working in a corporate office, you would start the same way each day.  Give your brain the trigger that says “Now it is time for work.”

3.  Work set hours.  The problem with working from home is that you can always  do “one more thing”. It is your work – not your life. If you continue to work all the time, you will come to resent your work.

4.  Work during your work hours.  Do not do the dishes and vacuum during the work day.  Running down to do a load of laundry is not what happens at work.  Respect your work enough to give it the time that you have set up for it.

5. Have a business telephone line. This is not the telephone line that your child answers.This is a line that only you answer.    On my two line phone, I have different ring tones for the different lines.  If you hear the phone playing Pachelbel’s Canon in my house, the business line is ringing.  Up until recently, I also had a separate fax line.  I receive very few faxes these days.  My business phone line will take a fax and then I can hook up my fax machine and print it.  You can also pay for a  service that will send the fax to your computer.  

6.  Answer the telephone in a professional way.  Don’t answer while you are standing in front of the running dishwasher or some other appliance that make a lot of noise. If you have a dog,  be able to keep the sound of his barking out of your phone calls.

7.  Be set up as a real office.  Have office equipment and supplies available.  Treat your business like it is a business. Buy good quality equipment that is suited for your work.  File cabinets can be expensive but look around and you will find used ones available.  The same is true with other office equipment.

8.  Find social outlets.  Join the Chamber of Commerce and attend their functions.  Get out and meet other business people so that you can find new clients and have someone to talk to that knows about doing business in your town.  My Chamber has a monthly function just for people who work at home.  Join a gym or take a class.  Get out and meet people.

9.  Take a lunch break.  Go out lunch sometimes.  You need to get away from your desk and think of something else.  You will come back with a fresher attitude.  Have a sandwich and take a walk.  Shake loose the cobwebs!

10.  Form a great relationship with your bank.  I love my local bank.  I love knowing the person that I am calling when I need help or information.

I have now spent more of my life working from home than I spent in a corporate office.  I have learned that it is not for everyone but  I would not want to work any other way.

My slippers are really comfortable….

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About Carol Early Cooney

CPML Social is a social media management firm for small businesses. We are there to help you - we know that you don't have time to do it all. Whether you are a real estate agent, a musician, an insurance agent, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, we can help you.
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8 Responses to 10 Tips for Working at Home

  1. Amy says:

    Great list, Carol. Maybe you can help me out. How do you limit the distractions from family?

    • I close the door. I also taught my kids that they had to be quiet when the phone rang. Which sounds odd but it wasn’t…

    • Sopphey says:

      I’m not Carol, but what works for me is to schedule work AROUND family. My creative work tends to clump into bursts, so it works just well for me. Plus, communicating boundaries helps too. It took a while for my family and I to get into the groove of things, but we figured it out.

  2. I worked at home for eight years. It was the only way I could make things work. These are great tips. I’d add one augmentation to the “set work hours” rule. When you’re not on work time, turn off the ringer on your phone, shut the office door, close the work email. Don’t have one foot in the door and one out. I also found it helpful to have a separate work email with a professional email address. Nothing kills credibility like crzybbmom32@whatever.com

    • You are right. The work I do depends on tenants being able to get me 24/7 so I didn’t think about turning off the ringer. But that is definitely a good point. The email is also good. My email was always just my name although I often felt that I should have had one that had the company name incorporated into it. I think that would look better.

  3. Sopphey says:

    I had serious problems with #3. I used to do a lot of something I called “world wide” marketing and created a schedule around 18-20 hours of work. I’ve reduced that significantly, but it’s still a problem. I just don’t turn off. Yet.

  4. Rosey says:

    This is such a great list, and I am sooo guilty of #1, you’re right that time flies right by before you know it! Best to get the shower part done and over. Same thing for working out. If I don’t sit down to do it before I start working, it won’t get done. I know that now. 🙂

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