Working in a home-based business takes dedication to its setup and maintenance, to run smoothly. Whether you work for a large company as a home agent or fully on your own, its important to train yourself to use time wisely and efficiently. Having worked independantly both for corporations and for myself, here are some tips I use to stay focused and organized, despite distractions.
First of all, create a comfortable office for yourself. But not too comfortable, or you won’t want to work. For example, I bought a big, cushy massage recliner for my desk chair, to go with my big mahogany desk. They both took up the whole room. Being the supervisor in sales for a large corporation from home, I close sales other salespeople can’t. But, during the period of time when the overly comfortable recliner was in my office (about a month), my sales plummeted. My best guess is that my motivation was lessened by the fact that the chair was too darned comfortable. That must be why there are so many office chairs that are not all that comfortable but are popular. So, I went and bought a normal executive chair which reclined somewhat, but wasn’t overly fancy. That did the trick. My sales went back up to par and stayed there. The recliner is now in the living room, where it belongs.
Make sure the room where your office is, is large enough. I moved my huge desk into another room to give more space, since the room it had been in was too small for it. Now, with room to move, space to work in and a chair that keeps me from getting too comfortable, I’m in business.
Another issue that can matter in the home office environment is knicknacks. Working in corporate headquarters previously, I saw cubicles decorated in every way. Each person has whatever works best for them. Some tape trolls to the top of their monitors, there should be a law against this, in my mind. One time I was working at someone’s desk who had far too many chotchkes and picture frames. Every time I turned around, something fell over. Thank goodness I was only there an hour, but it wasn’t the most productive hour, due to having to tiptoe around her stuff. But hey, whatever floats your boat for maximum work effectiveness, some don’t mind working this way. Find what works for you. I have a few things on my desk for motivational purposes, including my cat, who refuses to leave my desk alone. But, it’s not cluttered to the point that work suffers. It’s all about usability, is your desk arranged in an efficient way so you can get to supplies and papers quickly, if needed? Working on the phone and computer, this is important for me.
A contributing factor to working at home is family interference. If you have children, you know what I’m talking about. Teach everyone to leave you alone during work time, unless there is a true emergency to attend to. Hire a sitter, if need be. During work time, keep your office door closed. The idea is to focus, and it is easier to focus in peace, free from distractions. If your pets are distracting, they too must stay outside the room. My cat sleeps under my lamp, so I’m lucky. If he wakes up and begins stomping all over the computer keyboard, I put him out in the living room, and close my door. Loud pets can be disruptive, especially if you work on the phones like I do. It doesn’t hurt the loud pet to be out in the garage or another part of the house while you work. Or, feed the animal, then he’s too busy eating to be in your office making noise. Be creative in ways to find distractions for those who distract you, in advance of work time. So when you are working, you don’t need to stop and figure it out then.
Also, turn off cellphones, and tell friends not to call you during work time. Then, keep this boundary. If they call, tell them you’ll call back after work or on a break. It’s tempting to get sidetracked by others, but they interfere with making money by interrupting you during time you’ve allotted for business. This is hard, I know, but a necessary issue to keep you focused and serious about your work.
Take breaks, especially if you feel stressed. It’s a proven fact that working straight without breaks makes the quality of work go down. So, when you need a break, take one. Get up and do something relaxing. Or, if nothing else, go get some coffee. Then, your mindset will be more positive and refreshed when the break is over. Quality work is important, more than quanitity. I am a workaholic and work ten or more hours a day. So, I take a lot of short, 5-minute breaks for mental rejeuvenation(coffee helps me for a physical boost) to keep everything on track.
Dress for work in business casual attire, not in pajamas, when working from home. It keeps me in a more professional mindset and reminds me that I have real work to accomplish, not just some chore to get out of bed to do. Maybe later, when your business is fancier and you have more freetime, you can change your working ways, but in the building and maintenance of a small business, it pays to be more disciplined and businesslike.
By taking your work seriously, planning your office, time and tasks, working at home is a snap. It just takes a little re-training of values, and some patience but it becomes comfortable to have structure after awhile. Just make sure to stop to smell the coffee, here and there, to maintain your concentration and drive. Owning a business is all about drive, logic and persistence. Many successful entrepreneurs work most of the time and make good use of their limited time. People I know like this enjoy what they do, because they’ve figured out how to make it work for them. That is your job as an independant consultant. Figure out exactly what works mentally and physically for you, and you’re on your way to business success.