For a lot of people, running a small business involves working from home.
While some people find this inherently easier than others, the key to effective home working is self-discipline.
There is certainly still some debate about the pros and cons of home working but if you’re one of the 4.2 million UK home workers, here are our top 10 essential tips for helping to keep you both productive and healthy.
- Separate work and home
Just ‘having a desk’ isn’t enough.You need to create an area that is a genuine dedicated workspace.
If you can afford to set aside a full room as your office that’s a great start. If this isn’t an option, do your best to re-create the important elements of a good office space.
Keep this area free from TV, games, magazines – or whatever is most likely to distract you. If there are others in the house while you work, set boundaries and don’t feel bad in closing the door.
- Set up an ergonomic workstation
Spending a lot of time at your desk can wreak havoc on your body.
Ensure you setup a healthy, ergonomic work-space to keep your body comfortable and injury-free. Use this great guide to help evaluate your current work station setup.
- Stay tidy
An untidy desk = distractions.
People tend to snack and make notes while they work and while that’s fine, if your desk is littered with sweet wrappers, old Biros and piles of crossed out notes, it gives you an excuse to do something unrelated to work.
Make sure you get rid of stuff you no longer need and keep your desk and mind clear.
- Close non-work related tabs. Think of it as digital mess. Tabs you can open include:
- Your business website
- Business social media pages (not your personal ones!)
- Competitor webpages
- Research pages
- That’s it.
No tags for personal shopping, the news, or Netflix. We understand it’s difficult but you will be surprised how many hours you will lose to these distractions.
- Learn to relax
You may find it hard to believe, but life isn’t just about work and knowing when to take time off is important.
If you don’t learn how to relax you’ll burn out quickly and it will negatively affect both your business and personal life.
Try to do something you enjoy (and non-work related) every day; a few chapters of your book, an episode of your favorite TV show or a long walk. Without some time for yourself, you’ll resent your business quickly.
- Create a schedule
Plan your days. When are you updating your social media? Do you have items to post? Do you have to send regular emails to contractors?
Our productivity levels differ throughout the day so take the time to learn at what point in the day you are at your most effective and plan to complete your more complicated tasks then.
Before you finish work each day, make a schedule for the following day so you know exactly where you need to start in the morning.
- Set goals (and tick them off)
If you don’t have aims, your business will never progress.
Setting daily, weekly and monthly targets will help your business progress as well as giving you a sense of achievement. They don’t have to be big but you need to know where you are heading.
- Take mini breaks
We are not designed to sit for long periods of time, so every 40 minutes or so, take a couple of minutes to stretch your legs or grab a coffee.
Mini breaks are great for several reasons. It stops your body becoming stiff and sore and keeps your mind fresh.
You will be amazed how a quick 5 minute break can really help you to spot silly mistakes in your work or solve a problem you have been working on for hours.
- Get a fast internet connection
In 2015 this is a must.
If your business depends on the internet there is no excuse for a slow or limited connection.
A slow, unreliable connection leads to frustration and possibly to missed communication. If fiber broadband is an option, get it – it’s worth paying for in the long run.
- Go outside!
Living and working in the same space day after day can be claustrophobic and affect your ability to concentrate.
Ensure you get outside at least once a day, even if it’s only for a walk. Keeping active will make you feel physically and mentally ready to work.
A gym membership might be a good thing (paying for it should motivate you to use it!), or spend one afternoon a week working in your local coffee shop. Whatever works for you, remember that getting out of your normal working environment can help inspire creativity and keep your mind and body fresh.
This is not designed to be an exhaustive list but merely a guide to get you thinking.
Use the above points as a starting point and adapt it as you find out what works best for you. By staying productive and healthy you give your business the best chance of success.
Got a killer tip that keeps you super productive when working from home? We’d love to hear about it.Please share it with us in the comments below.