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How to work smarter from home

When your friends and family know that you work from home, they often seem to think it’s a doddle. They assume you sit at your kitchen table in your pyjamas and tap away on social media, spending your time looking at news with the TV on in the background. Endless cups of tea, breaks for doing DIY and probably popping to the shops when you feel like it. This isn’t the case though and it’s extremely counter productive for people to have these views. Little do they realise that you still have to do your work in order to earn a living. Put these top tips into play and you’ll soon be working smarter from home.

Stick to a morning routine. Get up, shower and get dressed. Ensure you have breakfast and physically go to work, saying goodbye to your family. This helps to separate your business and personal life, even when you’re doing both in the same location. You could even make a flask of coffee to take with you and I’ve even heard of people putting their coat on and actually going out the front door and round the side of the house to get to their home office. Some even sit in the car for 5 minutes. Whilst it’s not the longest commute in the world, it certainly helps draw a line between work and home.

If you identify what you need to do every day, even if that means making a to-do list, you’ll know exactly what you need to do and get the work done. This is essential every day however it’s even more important if you’re just starting out working at home and find yourself getting interrupted. It’s something to refer back to and you won’t find yourself forgetting what task you were half way through. Be sure that sending invoices is on that list. There’s no point in doing the work if you don’t make sure you get paid for it.

Interruptions come in all forms, from the landline ringing, the postman knocking at the door and friends and family popping round for a brew. This is one of the hardest parts of working from home that I have found. I no longer answer the house phone, the answer machine can take a message and I very rarely answer the door unless I’m expecting an important parcel. I remember when I wasted 25 minutes talking to someone trying to sell me something. In the end I told them that whilst they were trying to do their job, I was trying to do mine and that was 25 minutes I wasn’t earning. Family can be the worst culprits as they pop by and expect that by you being at home you are free. Politely ask them to send a text or organise to come round at a time that is convenient for you both, rather than appearing on a whim.

If you use cloud storage for all your documents, you’ll be able to log on wherever you are. You’ll still be able to access your important files, photos and log in details if you decide to go and work from a coffee shop for an hour or two. Working like that also lets you interact with others, gives you a different atmosphere and certainly helps if your father-in-law doesn’t take the hint that your home office isn’t somewhere where he can pop by and bombard you with questions about his inadequate wi-fi.

Invest in a decent chair that you actually want to sit in. Create an environment which lets you work. Sitting at the kitchen worktop isn’t ideal so a proper desk, even a home office which you can lock at the end of the day will help you get your work done and then switch back to ‘home mode’ when you turn that key at clocking off time.

Don’t be afraid to put an out of office on your emails. Clients may know you work from home but you don’t have to be on call 24 hours a day for them, or respond to enquiries on weekends. Do anything you can to show people that you have both business and personal time and stick to it. If you give them an inch, they’ll try and take a mile.

Make sure you take proper breaks. Time away from your desk will give you fresh eyes and help boost your creativity. Be clear about your working hours too. Not only does it inform other people in the house when you are working, it also lets them call you out on it if you’re not back home on time. Work to live, don’t live to work.

All these tips will help your working from home experience better and help you earn your wage easier.

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