I've been working from home since June now and I've learned a lot of things along the way. Here's my 10 tips for how to make working from home a success:
1. Get up in the morning as if you were going out to work. If you structure your day just like a normal 9-5 (or 8-4, or whatever 8 hour working pattern you prefer) and factor in a lunch break, it's so much easier to remain focused and make it through feeling accomplished and like you actually achieved a full day's work.
2. Remove yourself physically from all the distractions. My initial working space was based in our living room and it was easy if things weren't going according to plan to just walk away from the computer and flop out on the sofa. Unless you work somewhere really cool, it's unlikely you could do that at work, so get out of the habit by removing yourself from temptation.
3. Create an office space. It doesn't have to be a whole room, it could even be a tiny nook under the stairs, but have somewhere to go that feels like you're going to work. Once you're there, you're officially at work, even though you're at home. It really does help, trust me!
4. Invest in some good office furniture. A nice desk (preferably with some storage) and a comfy office chair can make the world of difference to how you feel at the end of the day. When I started, I worked from the dining room table which is fine for brief stints of dinner but a full day on hard wooden chairs and a higher up table is not good for your posture or your body in general. And if you feel uncomfortable you're more likely to get up and wander about and be distracted. Ikea do some great office stuff in a whole range of sizes which will suit any space.
5. Factor in breaks away from your computer. If you were at work you would be entitled to a lunch break and a quick coffee break and toilet breaks. It's just the same at home, you're just closer to the kettle.
6. Accept that you will make many more cups of tea or coffee than you probably would at work. It's just too easy...
7. Consider making a packed lunch or line up your snacks for the day. When you're so close to the cupboards it's tempting to just binge eat, especially if you're bored or struggling with something, but it will never lead to good things. I've learned this the hard way, and it's still something I struggle with now. Although I'm sure it's just the same in a work place, particularly if you work near a vending machine or a coffee point.
8. Go out for a walk at lunchtime. When you're sat inside all day it's very easy to become demotivated and frustrated. I find a nice stroll in the fresh air really refreshes me and helps me to come back in the afternoon feeling more positive (I used this tip when I worked in an office too, sometimes you just need to remove yourself from a place to get some perspective).
9. Try to plan meetings in alternative locations. It does you good to get out into the world and helps you to return to 'the office' feeling refreshed and raring to go.
10. Get dressed everyday. If I stayed in my pjs I would never get anything done. I don't get dressed up to go to the office, often in the summer I wore shorts and a vest top, but the ritual of getting showered and dressed ready to start the day is a big motivator.
Overall, despite all those tips, I would say go easy on yourself. It's not the easiest option to work from home and it takes a while to adjust to lack of people, but there are a whole heap of perks - saving money particularly is a big one for me. It can take time to settle in and establish a routine, but once you're there, it's a great place to work!