If you are making a switch from an outside office to a home office hold onto your hat, or your bathrobe as the case may be. It’s a lot trickier than you might imagine!
With 25 years under my belt working for corporations, and four years as a small business owner working the store floor, I longed for another way to express myself in a career that didn’t involve the obvious drawbacks of a daily commute and regular office hours. When I finally made the switch to “living a life unbound,” I encountered many more obstacles than I had imagined. Some internal, others external – all very real.
It became apparent that these issues would either make me or break me. And since I had chosen to live in a rural area, I was in favor of success vs. a two-hour commute each day! Failing was not a pleasant option.
I share my top key strategies for Home Office Success with you in the hopes that your transition will be smooth and fulfilling.
7 key strategies for home office success
- Get dressed. You can skip the high heels and tie, but go for business casual with a bend for comfort. You will feel more competent and professional if you go to the trouble of dressing for success even in your home office. If you are not convinced, do an experiment – one day in pajamas, one day in business dress. Do you notice any differences? Try scheduling a Skype session first thing in the morning to motivate yourself to look good for the work day ahead.
- Schedule desk time. I have had to get very organized to work alone in a home office. I schedule a minimum of 2 hours each day of uninterrupted desk time. For me it is writing and working on virtual business solutions. For you it may be something entirely different. It helps to have a beginning and an end time so that you are mentally primed to maximize your productivity.
- Schedule face time. You will get lonely working in a home office, especially if you have experienced an office career. Schedule in-person meetings, business lunches, networking events, workshops, or even just going to the local coffee shop to work on your next blog post! Schedule out of the home office time at least two times per week. I prefer the morning as it accomplishes several of these key strategies all at once.
- If you hit a wall, move it. Literally. Get up and move. Go take a walk, do a few Sun Salutations, take a hot shower. Take advantage of your ability to be flexible and utilize it most when you need to shift so that you can move forward. The longer you sit at your desk feeling blocked or frustrated, the harder it is to overcome.
- Exercise daily. You need to do this whether you are working in a corporate office or a home office; however, with your unbound lifestyle it should be easier to fit this in, right? Not so fast. The stress to succeed, to bring home the bacon, to please your new customer, to manage your family becomes much more intense when the paychecks aren’t as regular as they used to be! It’s easy to (once again) put this at the bottom of the list. Don’t. You won’t be sorry, and your business will thank you too.
- Forget about the housework. Don’t even think about it during your scheduled work time. It’s an unnecessary drain on your energy and creativity. If you were at the corporate office, you probably wouldn’t be thinking about the laundry or the dirty floor. Keep the same mental distance in your home office. Recruit your family members to take care of the things that bother you most. We have engaged our kids to each take a night to cook dinner for the family. It takes some of the burden off me and helps them to become more self-sufficient.
- Keep your eye on your prize. We all have our reasons for wanting to live a life outside of the standards. Mine is the location of our home and our two youngest children, ages 12 and 15. As a single mother for 25 years, I have already lived through the stress and guilt of sacrificing family time for career success, and all of the consequences of those choices. When the kids get off the bus and come through the door, I’m here to hug and ask about their day. This is my prize. To hold onto it, I am committed to doing whatever it takes to make this new way of working, work for me.
What are your reasons? Think deeply on these…write them down and post in a prominent position – review often – especially on the days when it seems difficult, if not impossible to grow a career from home.
Virtual business is here to stay. It manifests itself in many ways – and working from a home office is one. If you are taking the plunge, making the change, stepping into this new way of doing business – stand tall! You are a pioneer of the future.