Some would say working from home is a luxury however others may find it hard to concentrate and actually produce good quality work when they are not in professional and structured working environment. If this relates to your situation there may be certain elements that you may need to review and change in order to ensure you are working as effectively as possible as a Contractor working from home.
Structure and routine
By structure we are referring to all elements of your working day. Firstly, agree your set working hours and ensure that you commit to these. As tempting as it is to keep pressing the snooze button as there is no ‘boss’ other than yourself to overlook your start time, you should ensure that you are awake and ready to start working at the time you have set.
Like all workers, you are entitled to a lunch break. Take yourself away from your work for a solid hour in order to clear your head and be motivated to get back to work once your lunch hour is up.
Some may find that wearing work clothes also helps with getting into the ‘working’ frame of mind, but on the other hand is wearing a suit in your living room really necessary? Do ensure you make the transition from pyjamas to a form of smarter attire in order to help with the transition into work mode much like traditional office workers would do every morning.
Your work environment
The environment you are situated within is a very important factor to how productively you can work. Piles of washing and children’s toys scattered all over the floor will not give you the best possibility of a clear and productive mind. If possible, try to keep your working space and ‘home’ separate. If you have access to a spare room or study this would ideal however for the less fortunate, set aside a corner of an existing room and make this your work area.
Within this work space, ensure you keep on top of all your paperwork. Create a filing system, invest in several folders and organise your desk-space in a way which works for you.
For some working as a Contractor from home may get tedious and lonely from time to time. Try to mix things up occasionally and if possible, take your laptop and papers to a local coffee shop or park in order get some fresh air and prevent feeling isolated from the outside world
Distractions, disruptions and diversions
Working from home will of course throw up regular disruptions to your working day; the home phone ringing, the doorbell buzzing, so on and so forth.
You are your own boss at home so there is no strict requirement to be militant however, do set some ground rules. Answering the doorbell to a delivery man for 2 minutes will not hinder your working day massively but on the other hand, allowing a friend to pop in for an hour long coffee break may have a larger effect.
Investing the time to having a separate work environment will help to strike a balance between business and personal. Additional steps such as having separate business and personal mobile phones may also help; social media alerts and text messages from friends will always provide the temptation to take an unnecessary 5 minute break.
It is easy to slip into a casual and laid back attitude if your working day is not as structured compared to one of those working in an office environment however it is important to ensure that you remain professional at all times and in all respects.
Whether it be the manner in which you answer the telephone or what you decide to wear when attending a meeting with a client, keep in mind that you are a professional at the service you provide and should remain to be perceived in that light.
Another angle to consider is if you involve yourself professionally on social media websites. Remember to always conduct yourself online as you wish to be perceived by others as you are representing the service that you provide. Keep comments and involvement in industry discussions appropriate, relevant and engaging.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
As crucial as it is to focus on your work and business, it is also important to keep in mind your personal health and lifestyle. Working from home can have two negative effects – the temptation to divert away from work and the temptation to resort back to work too often. Set your schedule for working hours and stick to them, outside of this maintain a balanced and healthy personal life.
Developing a sedentary lifestyle would be extremely easy to do but you must plan ahead to avoid this. Include exercise within your working hour breaks, resist temptation from regular walks to the fridge and ensure that your working environment is one that will not harm you in the long term.