Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
“You work from home? You are soooo lucky. You probably never need to put on make up or get dressed!” When people hear that I work from home I think they imagine it’s a day of eating bon-bons, watching television and never having to bathe or wear pants without elastic waistbands ever again. Truly, it could be that lifestyle.
I could easily host Google Hangouts and be “professionally-dressed on the top” aka the part the camera sees while sporting fuzzy bunny slippers and flannel pants off camera. I could slap on make up and swipe on lipstick prior to that weekly even and not worry about it the rest of the day. I could. But. I. Don’t. Why? It’s easy to fall into the “I’m working from home trap” and lose your sense of identity and the desire to get dressed. It’s a bad habit. Why? Because whether you work from a home office or a cube farm you should treat your job as a professional.
You need to adopt a professional mindset no matter where you work. While it may not show up in your blog posts (but truly, I think it will!) if you don’t take yourself seriously, why will anyone else? If my family came home and saw that I hadn’t bathed, washed my hair or gotten dressed in days, why would they ever believe that I actually work while I’m in front of the computer all day? They may, but I don’t want them to have that doubt.
When I decided to take the leap to self employed business owner it was scary. I will admit, too, that those first few weeks (okay maybe a month) the idea of not having to get dressed for work were glorious and I embraced them. I also found myself thinking, “I don’t have to punch a clock so I don’t have to get up early, I can take a two hour lunch, go shopping, etc. and get to work ‘later.'” Let me tell you, once you’ve slacked off the entire day, “later” becomes “the next day” and so on.
Take your business seriously. Here are my tips for adopting (and embracing) a professional mindset for work-from-home bloggers:
- Set an alarm. Get up the same time every day and get into a work routine. Whether you want to work from 8 am to 4 pm or 10 am to 7 pm. Choose office hours and stick to them.
- Get dressed. Okay, this can wait until after you’ve had breakfast or taken a walk or read the paper. But set a time so that you hold yourself accountable to getting out of your pajamas and putting on “real clothes.”
- Make sure your workspace fits your uniqueness. Whether you’re working from a corner of the dining room until your business takes off or if you have an actual designated office space, make it your own. Make it a place that you look forward to coming into and spending your day.
- Know yourself so that you know when you work best. If you work best first thing in the morning, schedule your most mentally intensive tasks them. If you come into your stride mid-day or late day, schedule those tasks then. Take on the boring tasks during your least mentally alert times of the day. When you work in an office for a boss you’re forced to be productive on their schedule. When you work from home you can set your schedule to enhance your productive times.
- Write a to-do list. Actually write it down. If you have big projects set timelines to them and work on them throughout the week. If you have tasks you complete daily, make them recurring on your to-do list. It is a great feeling when you can cross those items off the list!
- Get away from the computer and take a lunch break. Also, don’t eat breakfast in front of the computer. Even if you at and worked while you were employed, make work and meals and home separate when you work from home. Your health and your sanity will welcome the change of scenery. Also, if you have a pet, plan your lunch hour (and yes, I plan for and take an hour every day) to be part mealtime and part playing with or walking the dog time. You will come back refreshed, healthier and your pet will thank you!
- At the end of the day, stop working. When 5 pm rolls around I turn off my computer, close the lid on my roll top desk and call it a day. I don’t close my office door because the kitties love to lounge on the futon and my treadmill is in there and I will usually use the treadmill at night to make sure I get my 10,000 steps in. While I usually always have my phone with me (I’m a mom and if my kids aren’t home I always worry they will try to get in touch, I won’t have my phone and tragedy will ensue!) Even though I have my phone I rarely answer email from it after 5 or 6 pm. Working from home means you could potentially be always available… and that isn’t good. Set boundaries with your clients and with yourself.
If being a work-from-home-blogger sounds like it’s all work and no play… read on.
- Schedule downtime. Just as you might hang out around the water cooler if you worked in an office, you need to schedule time to just relax and kick back – even if it’s for 10 minutes every hour or so. I use my downtime to walk on the treadmill when a commercial comes on. Yes, I have a television on in the background all day because I need the noise – could I tell you what was on? Not really. It’s background noise.
- Get out of the office and attend conferences or networking events. Keep your skills honed so that you can compete with the rest of the world. Take a few hours an afternoon a week to work from a local coffee shop or network with colleagues or attend a local meeting. The change of scenery will do you good, amp up your creativity and help your business grow!
- Take advantage of the fact that you can go to the post office or grocery at “off times.” Schedule time during your lunchtime to run errands that are easier and more quickly done when everyone else is toiling away at the cube farm. Embrace the freedom that being a work-from-home-blogger offers.
What do you love best about working from home? If you don’t work from home, what steps do you need to take to make it a reality?
(Photo: Parker and Clyde on futon)