I’m writing this just as many people here in the United States and also around the world have started to work from home.
They are the lucky ones, of course, because many others have simply been laid off or lost their customers. My heart goes out to them and I hope the situation will return to normal as soon as possible.
But for those who are “teleworking,” it occurred to me that my experience of working at home for the last almost 30 years could be helpful.
Similarly, there are many online entrepreneurs who have figured out how to work at home (with or without children) and still be productive and happy.
Why and how I started working at home
I started my first website (www.ellenfinkelstein.com) in 1999 but even before that, I was working at home. My children were small and I was doing technical editing for IDG Books (now Wiley & Sons). Then I started writing books for them and for McGraw-Hill and needed a website as an author platform — to show my expertise and promote my books.
That website grew and grew. I started an email list. I started selling my own products. And my kids were growing up.
We started in a university-provided trailer, then moved to an apartment, and finally to our own house. Now, I finally have a dedicated office!
Tips for working at home
If you have been working at home for a long time, I invite you to leave a comment with tips for people who are just starting to experience this mode of working. These comments will be VERY useful for them!
Here are my tips…
Have a dedicated area to work: Even if it’s a table in your bedroom (as my first “office” was), you’ll be more productive for many reasons. You can keep all of your supplies nearby so you never have to get up or search for them. You will have fewer distractions, such as food, the TV, etc. The dining room table isn’t a great place unless you never use it for eating. Keep your work area neat, just as you (hopefully) do at work.
Keep regular working hours: It’s easy to work 24/7 but it isn’t an efficient way to work. In general, I recommend keeping the same working hours you had at the office, but if you now have children at home, you might have to make changes. Do let the children know when you’re working (if they’re old enough to understand) and give them activities to do during that time.
Block social media and email notifications: You’re probably working on your home computer now, although some people bring home their office laptop. Your settings will be different. But pop-up notifications and bells are SO distracting, so make sure they go away. You just have to find the settings. YOU have to decide when you want to check email and social media.
Work with the best technology: If your home systems aren’t up to snuff, you might want to make some changes.
- If you’re used to having 2 screens at work and now you’re on your laptop, you can probably get an inexpensive screen and add it to your laptop
- You might also have to relearn how to use your printer
- If you’re on slow wifi, get a long Ethernet cord and connect directly to your modem/router
- If you don’t have easy access to your passwords, get a password manager (like LastPass).
Communicate a LOT with your boss, team, and subordinates: Maybe you’re used to speaking with them personally. You still have email but now you’ll have to add something. Zoom is a great option so you can all see each other. Slack will help filter out irrelevant emails.
Don’t forget about your goals: Continue to focus on your goals, just as you would at work.
Get some exercise and/or go outside every day: When you’re working at home, you’re a lot less active. Even if you don’t regularly exercise, now you have to include some time for exercising. Even in these “social distancing” times, you can go for a lone walk in most places.
Take regular breaks: As I mentioned above, it’s easy to slip into 24/7 work. Be sure to set aside a full hour for lunch and some time off in the evening — whatever works for you in your situation.
Enjoy family and friends: Whether you have children who are now home from school, parents who need a few extra calls, or friends who are also feeling isolated, find ways to contact them. Video calls using Zoom, Skype, or Face Time are great.
If having more time at home has gotten you thinking about starting a new online business, here’s my best training, “13 Steps to a Successful Online Business.”
The report comes with 4 valuable training videos that go into more detail. If you’re a beginner, start with the report and then move on to the videos.
YOUR tips for working at home while staying productive and happy
Please leave a comment to help others who are in this situation for the first time!
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