10 tips to succeed at working from home

Ways you can be just as (or even more) successful when working from home

Photos: INGIMAGE
Photos: INGIMAGE
29 Jun 2015

Photos: INGIMAGE

Doing away with the daily commute, office politics, and a boss breathing down your neck are definite perks of working from home. But that doesn’t mean it’s a day at the beach. Without the structure provided by a regular office job, it’s up to you to manage your time. Fight the temptation to wake up at noon, and discover the ways you can be just as (or even more) successful when working from home.

1. Maintain an orderly home office or workspace
1. Maintain an orderly home office or workspace
29 Jun 2015

1. Maintain an orderly home office or workspace

When you work from home you might feel like you’re living at the office. You kind of are. Maybe you’ve set up shop in the kids’ playroom amongst their scattered toys, or at a desk a step away from your bed. Worse, maybe you work in bed. Among fluffy pillows. Calling your name. Snooooze.

Set boundaries by having a designated workspace that’s off limits from the family, where little hands can’t bang on your keyboard or surreptitiously shut off your computer. Use this place only for work. 

2. Set a regular schedule
2. Set a regular schedule
29 Jun 2015

2. Set a regular schedule

There’s this notion that freelancers are in their PJs watching reruns or taking naps between spurts of work. People are skeptical about what you really do all day. After all, no one’s there to keep an eye on you.

Make it obvious to everyone that you’re busy by setting a regular schedule. Respond quickly and be reachable during office hours – the same hours that your clients and employers keep. 

3. Take care of your health and appearance
3. Take care of your health and appearance
29 Jun 2015

3. Take care of your health and appearance

Working in your Keroppi slippers and gym shorts sounds enticing but be warned, it’s a slippery slope. Soon you’ll stop brushing your hair and teeth. Keep up a respectable appearance for your own sake. You’ll feel a lot better if you shower in the morning, get dressed in work-casual attire, and wear lipstick. It’s a signal to get down to business.

Steer clear of the kitchen. Working from home could lead to round two of the Freshman 15 if you give into unhealthy snacking temptations. Eat real meals in proper portions to avoid (junk) food coma-induced naps.

4. Minimize interruptions
4. Minimize interruptions
29 Jun 2015

4. Minimize interruptions

There will be emergencies, like when your dog is vomiting uncontrollably and you’re the only one to deal with it. A parent-teacher conference in the middle of the day? Well your spouse can’t leave the office, so it’d better be you. The flexibility of working at home comes with both good and bad.  

But let your spouse and kids know that when you’re on the clock, you’re not free to run errands, do laundry, or partake in make-believe tea parties. If your mother calls you up during office hours just to chat, tell her politely you’ll call her back. She wouldn’t be making those calls if you were at a corporate job.

5. Learn to negotiate
5. Learn to negotiate
29 Jun 2015

5. Learn to negotiate

A full-time job comes with a fixed salary and benefits. You don’t have any of that when you work from home. Your earnings depend entirely on your rates, so learn how to negotiate. If you’re just starting, it’s fine to settle for something lower. You need the experience and exposure. Once you gain a reputation, buff up your portfolio, improve your skill set, and secure more clients, start raising your rates. Remember, no one else will raise them for you.

6. Communicate often with your colleagues, clients, or employer
6. Communicate often with your colleagues, clients, or employer
29 Jun 2015

6. Communicate often with your colleagues, clients, or employer

Check in frequently with the people you do business with. Communicate regularly with your boss and clients to make sure you’re meeting expectations. Join group video calls and track projects by sharing calendars or Google docs. If you can, drop by the office or meet your boss and clients for coffee once a month.

They don’t see you on a daily basis, so be available and show them that you’re doing your job. Another reason it’s important to stay in the loop is because it opens up networking opportunities.

7. Know what’s trending in your industry
7. Know what’s trending in your industry
29 Jun 2015

7. Know what’s trending in your industry

Stay on top of emerging trends and use them to your advantage. If you have your own freelance business, you need to make yourself and the services you provide as attractive as possible. For example, if you’re an online freelance writer, you should have a firm grasp on SEO (search engine optimization) content and social media writing. Knowing what’s trending helps you stay ahead of the game.

8. Leave work at the end of the day
8. Leave work at the end of the day
29 Jun 2015

8. Leave work at the end of the day

Working from home, it’s easy to toil around the clock or get stuck in an “at work” mental state when you’re supposed to focus on your family and life outside of work.

You don’t have the benefit of a commute, which, however dreadful, does serve as an “in between” state or break, allowing you to mentally disengage from work and prepare yourself for what’s next at home. As a freelancer or telecommuter, you step out of your home office—right into your family affairs. Force yourself to shut down the “work” part of your brain at the end of the day before assuming your next role.  

9. Get out of the house
9. Get out of the house
29 Jun 2015

9. Get out of the house

The monotony of working in solitude can take its toll. You don’t miss the office politics or long, unproductive meetings, but you’re in need of more human interaction. Go out and meet a friend during lunch hour. Take your laptop to a coffee shop, where working amongst other people will make you feel less isolated. Maintain a well-balanced social life on the weekends as well.

10. Always deliver
10. Always deliver
29 Jun 2015

10. Always deliver

Go above and beyond at every job. Meet your deadlines. Set quotas, make daily to-do lists, and challenge yourself to get your work done in 5 hours instead of 8. Because when you’re done, you’re free. You don’t have to put in face time at the office. Just make sure you deliver the goods on time.

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