Working From Home – My Tips!

One of my favourite parts of my job, is that I get to work from home! I have literally done everything possible to continue doing so, even when most (sane!) people would probably have hired an office about a year ago when things went crazy here. I have moved from a tiny corner of my living room, to the smallest bedroom, to the corner of my living room AND my smallest bedroom (and a bit of storage in my hallway) to the biggest room in the house (after a bit of persuasion – i.e. nagging B continually until he gave in, haha!) and some more storage in the hallway areas where I can. We occasionally spill over into the living room too when we have big orders to pack (like right now – we have about 40 boxes in there waiting to go!) We even have a plan for the next two stages of growth that we know are going to come next. Today I’m going to share with you how we’ve coped, how I stay motivated and how we changed things when I took on staff and other people had to come here to work too.

Make Space! One of the most important things is to create a designated work area – I’m lucky to have the room I do but even in a small space you can have a small workstation with your laptop, papers and anything else you need, even if you need to pack it up at the end of each day (if it’s a kitchen or dining room table maybe) trust me this is totally worth it – working in bed on a laptop or having constant interruptions is not going to work! Getting to your ‘office’ each day will put you in the right frame of mind for work.
Get Organised – I’m a notebook and stationery obsessive! but out of all of the pretty notebooks I hoard, my essentials are my one notebook (it’s actually the 4th one, I have 3 previous ones I’ve filled up all to hand) where I keep lists of all my goals, long term and short term, it contains everything I want to achieve in the next week / month / year / 5 years, it’s regularly updated and things change along the way but it’s like a road map of where I’m going and I’d be lost without it! I also have my diary full of what needs to be done each day and overall in the week, it often gets overrun with notes, addresses, things to remember, calls to make, events and meetings, stock to reorder and anything else! I transfer things out of this onto my assistant Lisa’s schedule where I can, we have a whiteboard in the office where we write the weekly goals and things to organise and I make a list for B each day too. I create schedules for my team and we all do our bit to keep to them / change them and communicate. All papers are filed as quickly as possible into magazine files and folders. Setting goals and staying on top of things are essential to motivation – quite often when I find myself sitting staring into the distance wondering what on earth I need to do next it’s because in the midst of the craziness this system has slipped. A quick tidy up and update of everything normally gets us all back on track!

Dress for the job you want – of course I have days when I’m rushed off my feet, I’m tired and I’m very aware that I don’t need to leave the house, so do I work in my Pyjamas? sometimes… However! I have separate work PJ’s that I only wear for work. This still gives me the feeling of getting up and dressing for work, it gets me out of the “home” frame of mind and into “work”

Make a routine – having a set morning routine will help you stay on track – whatever your morning routine is whether its walking the dog, making coffee, checking your email etc etc… get in the habit of doing it every day, then you know, once the dog has been walked, the coffee is made and the computer is on it’s work time, stay in the zone, don’t call a friend, don’t put the washing on, don’t quickly hoover up, don’t put the TV on – you’re at work, it’s time to get to business!
Stay inspired – set aside at least an hour or two a week to gather inspiration from Pinterest or trade  magazines, brainstorm with your team or go over your goals and plans – it will keep you excited about what’s to come, motivated and on track to achieve your goals!
Take a Break – it’s easy to get caught up and just keep going, I know, I do it all the time! but take 10 or 15 minutes in the middle of your day to have a cup of tea, some lunch or a walk round the block – a break will do you the power of good! If you struggle with this ask someone to remind you by bringing you a cup of tea or sett a reminder on your phone for a certain time.
Get out! it’s so important when you work from home not to cut yourself off, network, socialise with colleagues and attend trade shows and events – it’s important to keep up to date whatever your industry is. Meeting people face to face every now and then will keep you up to date with things and keep you from becoming a paranoid hermit!

Growing your Team – taking on someone to work in your business is scary enough, also inviting them into your home and family is even more nail biting! But remember, it’s the same for them, not only is it their first day in a new job, they are spending it in a strangers home. Be professional, make space for them, ensure facilities are easily accessible (so they can make tea and go to the bathroom without having to ask etc…) and set an example – sitting on the sofa watching breakfast TV and eating your cornflakes behind them will not inspire them to work hard for you! Show that you mean business and are taking your work seriously and they will too. (I’ll be talking more about growing your team in a separate post soon!) When we took on Lisa, we changed the office to be entirely in the big room with storage outside, this gave us a designated space so that we could all work together comfortably rather than being spread out in different rooms. I think this has been absolutely essential as Lisa has, from day one, seen how the whole company works, everything that I do and how its done and has been able to pick up everything easily.

Last but not least – break all the rules!! only once in a while though! – this is very important, if you’ve been working very hard and can’t remember what a weekend looks like, it might be time to break the rules a little, this past Saturday I was working through a pile of spreadsheets, not the most fun thing in the world! so I watched Sabrina in the background :o) This is an exception rather than a rule, but every once in a while, it’s fun to break the rules!

I’d love to know your working form home tips / routines – please leave me your links or stories in the comments.

Thank you for dropping by today

Sarah x

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