Written By: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS®
Thank you for joining us again at Travel Professional News in the final installment of “Investing in your Home Office.” In our first two portions we have looked at technology, home office layout, and how to maximize your space to fuel your success. In this final piece, we are going to discuss all of the things that we can not buy or build. Time and how to manage it while working at home.
Creating your Work Schedule
Working from home, as many of us know, can be equally amazing and frustrating in the same day. Whether it be someone at the front door or laundry that you want to get done throughout the day, we all have hundreds of things that can pull us away from our home office and work itself. How do you control it? How to you manage the distractions?
Many storefronts are open from 9-5, working from home shouldn’t be much different. While the hours are open to vary, one of the easiest rules to create and stand behind is what I refer to as the “Closed Door Rule.” Whether it be at 10 PM or 4 AM, if your office door is closed, that is work time and time to get busy. I promise you the laundry will wait and I ensure you that whomever is standing at your front door will either leave a note or move along with their day. It’s hard at times to create these firm and strict guidelines but setting them in place will not only aide in your success, but also create respect and importance for the work you do from home.
Threading the Needle – Work and Personal
What happens when you are done with a day of work at a typical office? You shut down that old computer and head on out the door, thus leaving all of your worries and concerns until the next day. Well it’s a little different when you work from home isn’t it? Sometimes a catastrophic problem will keep you locked in your home office for hours instead of enjoying a family dinner. How do you draw the line?
This is a portion of working from home that is probably one of the most difficult to overcome. In my previous career, I would often work 12 hour days, sacrificing time with my family and for myself, just to obtain that feeling of being “caught up.” One day I realized that I will never get “caught up” and as soon as I finished one report or project, there was undoubtedly more in line for me to look after. Accepting that I simply couldn’t do all of the work in one day made the difference for me. It took a few weeks to adjust but I am happy to say that when I am done with my day now, I shut my office down followed by a shutting of the door and that is it.
Find the balance that works best for you. If you can’t let a problem wait until the next day, take care of it, but make sure to give yourself a little extra time the next day to relax or spend time with friends and family. The balance is real and the struggle to find it takes time. There is no formula for this balance as we all have different work methods and priorities that dictate how we react to situations. My suggestion is to be forgiving with yourself as you find the balance that works for you and your home office.
It doesn’t need to be coffee but when you are working from home, I have found it absolutely mandatory to take breaks. With very few distractions and endless amounts of work, getting up and moving is a must. Studies have shown a brief 10 minute walk can not only improve productivity but also a must for those of us confined to a chair and keyboard for most of the day.
Working from home can save you quite a bit of money by avoiding fuel costs, office rent, and additional utilities for an outside office. I find going out to lunch a great way to not only break up my day while working at home but also to rejuvenate and re-focus. It isn’t fun paying the bill every day but the benefits highly outweigh the expense for me. If lunch isn’t your thing, maybe going for a long walk or coffee is. Remember that just because you work from your home, you don’t need to be locked there all day, get out and shake yourself up a bit, the best ideas and motivation may be a break away.
Going with the Flow
Some days are better than others and some weeks are more productive than others. Sometimes going with the flow of your work style, schedule and personal life will lead to the greatest productivity, even if you aren’t “at your desk.”
Once a week, typically at around 3 PM, I hit a wall. I can’t push through this wall and I have learned that instead of sitting at my desk trying to work and becoming frustrated, I leave. I go outside or I go to the beach with my family. I may not be sitting at my desk but the productivity increase I see that night or the next day is unbelievable. Working smarter and not harder is the goal. Use your judgement and if you know that you have hit the wall and your mentally drained, don’t continue to rake yourself over the coals, enjoy the benefits of working from home and shake things up!
Working from home is a benefit and an AMAZING way to not only be productive but also enjoy life to the highest possible level. Whether it be leaving a bit early on a Tuesday to watch your child or grandchild play soccer or waking up in the middle of the night with an innovative and exciting idea, being able to walk into your office from your bedroom is amazing. It’s something that people just can’t understand until you have done it.
Embrace your home office and as we have discussed in this brief series, take pride in it. Working from home isn’t something to be embarrassed of, be proud that you have made your professional life how YOU want it. Thank you for joining us at Travel Professional News and we look forward to hearing about your success while working from home!