This is what I did when I started working from home and it worked for me.
I have been working from home on my own for over ten years and I found these habits a big help at the start. I have abandoned some of these over time as I discovered I had sufficient self discipline to get by without. That having been said, some habits like “Busy Work” were essential at the time. I used my busy work time to build a website and all of the forms like quotes and invoices I still use today (although updated).
NOTE: These are tips or guidelines only. If you’ve never worked from home before and your concerned you may not be suited for it I suggest you try all of these tips and cut back later as you find what works for you.
Keep a regular schedule. Once you start taking liberties with starting late and taking long lunches it’s easy to slide into bad habits of working fewer and fewer hours.
- Busy Work:
When working from home you don’t have middle management looking over your shoulder all day so it may be tempting to take advantage of work lulls to watch Youtube or something. Rather than giving in to this impulse I encourage you to take that time and use it to create your own busy work. If you’re an employee this may be your opportunity to shine and make an individual contribution. If your self employed this is the time to update your website, post to social media or work on spec projects.
You don’t have to wear a suit, but bathe and wear pants at least. Your dignity and self-respect seeps into your work more than you realize. Don’t expect other people to take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously.
- Work Space:
If you have access to a quiet, clean pleasant place to work take advantage of it. Keep everything you need as nearby as possible. If you’re constantly walking from room to room you will inevitably get distracted.
This probably only applies to the self-employed and I’m going to assume that you’re working on a computer.
If at all possible I suggest keeping your operation portable to take advantage of any remote possibilities that may arise. Laptops of comparable power to desktops are now available so that’s not a stumbling block. If available for your brand of laptop I suggest getting a docking station and if not a USB hub. This allows you to attach and detach peripherals without excessive hassle. The docking station also allows the attachment of external monitors without rewiring.
If you aren’t working on the cloud I also suggest saving your work on an external hard drive and only using your locals drive for software installations. This may make your computer faster, but the biggest benefit is that your computer can die and you just plug the drive into another computer and you’re good to go. Be sure and have a second drive and back up regularly.
If I were to come up with any single rule I think it would be this… You want to create a situation in your home where your employer or client could suddenly walk in at any time and you would greet them with calm, professional confidence.
During this time if you find that one of your busy work tasks is to locate and contract a freelance illustrator or graphic designer go no further. I’m here to help with all of those…”I’ll get to it some day” projects. This is your opportunity to focus on these types of projects without the distractions that so commonly make projects difficult. Contact me for a quote on your illustration, map or graphic design project.