Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Keep Your Sanity While Working from Home

As most of you know, I run Kalico Design out of my home office — which I love! But, while working from home has many perks, it also comes with some of it's own unique challenges.

I was recently in a meeting with two new business owners who were adjusting to the work-from-home mentality. We discussed some of the things they were finding hard, such as time management, how to focus, how to get inspired, and how to turn it off. After working form home for over two years, I've worked out a lot of my own kinks, but still tweak and adjust as often as needed to assure I am as productive as possible. Here are some of my tricks:

1. Have a Door: I am lucky enough to have a designated room for my home office, with a door! This helps separate work from home. It alleviates distractions (i'm not staring at dirty dishes or laundry, I'm only staring at my computer screen and work-related paraphernalia). This puts me in work mode, and helps to put me in "home mode" when not in the office. When possible, try to designate a specific room or area for your work space.

2. Window & Natural Lighting:
Again, I am very lucky that I have two large windows in my office. I strategically placed my desk and chair so that I face these windows. It helps to have natural lighting (which keeps me awake and alert, and also helps save on energy, b/c I rarely have to turn on an office lamp!). Try to position yourself near a window or natural lighting, especially if you are in a creative profession.

3. Billboard:
One of my favorite office supplies is my large billboard that sits directly in my line of site. I am able to put my important notices, production schedules, calendars, etc. all in one main location. As a designer, I often have long production schedules for large projects. Being able to see all these schedules in one glance is especially helpful and helps keep me on track. It's also fun to put up some of your own fun memorabilia, to keep your office creative and personal!

4. Set Hours: Sure, you're working from home, and you can always work. But, you'll burn yourself out very quickly if you don't balance work and home. I keep normal business hours, 9-5. OK, a lot of the time I will work late or I'll work on a Saturday, but i DO NOT answer emails or phone calls unless it is during regular work hours. By setting normal hours you will help to keep a professional relationship with your clients.

5. Ambiance: One of the perks from working from home is that you don't have to worry about offending or distracting co-workers. So, take advantage of this and make your home office as comfortable and personal as you want. I have a candle that i burn to help keep me relaxed. I also frequently play music for background sound. But, I don't recommend working with the tv on, it is way too much of a distraction!

6. Flexibility:
Another perk from working from home is that you do have more flexibility. Use this, don't abuse it. I swear by my laptop. For me, it's like a portable office. But, even if I am working from my laptop, I usually am still in my office. However, I do allow myself "work-from-home treats". For instance, on Fridays, I have a work from anywhere day. During the winter, this usually means working from the comfort of the living room couch. But in the warmer months, I may work outside when possible, or I might go to a coffee shop and do some work there. A change in scenery helps with creativity and inspiration. While it is most productive to have a set schedule and designated office space, you can still allow yourself a little fun — after all you work from home! Just be sure to make it the exception, not the rule!

What are some of your suggestions or tricks to working from home? What challenges do you face? What do you love about it? We'd love to hear your feedback and insight!

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