The gig economy has produced a large population of people working from home. The lure and excitement of being able to shorten the commute from hours and miles down to feet and inches (as in the length of the walk from your kitchen to your home office) often fade fast.
It turns out not everyone is equipped to work at home. I frequently get asked for tips and tricks on how to make the stay-at-home gig work well.
I’ve been working from a home office for almost 20 years. Yes, I frequently get called to client offices or travel on-site to assist with business deals. Yet the bulk of my time is spent right outside my kitchen door, a few feet down the hallway.
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your work-at-home experience.
First, make a dedicated space. The more walls and doors the better. You need seclusion from the rest of the activity in the house.
My life now includes 7 grandkids. They are here a lot and not just on weekends.
My wife and I love that part of life, but I still work full time so need the separation when I have work to be done.
The built-in desk just off the breakfast nook won’t work. You need an office area that can give you separation and handle your work tools; likely a computer, telephone, and even video hookups.
Don’t Skimp on Equipment
If your company or client doesn’t provide the right equipment for you to do your work, invest in some of your own. The right desktop or laptop is essential. This includes printers, phones, and whatever video set-up may make sense.
Pay for the bandwidth too. Get a service that provides the best possible data connectivity you can afford in your area. Reliability is also critical here.
If you will be doing work with video conferencing, webinar production or other camera work, check your lighting. Invest in a few moderately priced light sets to help brighten the area where the camera work is happening.
At the end of this article I’ll provide my own list of office equipment I like and the services I use.
Consider Your Emotions
The psycho-emotional aspects of working at home are not
If you think you need to feed off others at work, then working at home won’t be a happy time for you.
You’ll need to find other ways to get that energy. I set at least three breakfast, lunch or coffee meetings per week if I am not directly handling clients. I use those encounters to fuel my inner beast’s hunger for human interaction.
For me, I keep my trusty rescue pooch, Teddy by my side. He loves it with me at home.
Get on a Schedule
Nothing is harder to do when you work at home than to keep on a schedule. Look at your workload and set a calendar. Stick to it.
Block out appointments for yourself to handle critical pieces of your work, setting your own deadlines if others haven’t already set them for you.
I like what a friend does. Now mind you he’s in his 80’s but he still works full time. He sets 10 boxes on his calendar. Morning and afternoon each day get a separate box. Two boxes per day and five days a week, you get 10 boxes. His primary goal is to fill every box. He intentionally blocks out time to get things done.
If it’s not on your calendar, it will either get neglected or forgotten. Make time and plan time.
This includes being able to make time for your spouse and family needs.
I just talked about making a calendar that includes time for spouse and family. However, you need to set some honest expectations with them too. They need to help make you successful by respecting times that you deem as work hours. Unplanned interruptions can throw your calendar off schedule.
Handle Big Rocks First
There’s a fabulous teaching experience that demonstrates the value of handling big rocks first. Here’s a video of the principle.
My Resource List
Here’s a list of some of the tools I have that I love.
- My Desktop – I’m still a PC guy. I run an Intel-based desktop, small form factor Lenovo. It’s served me very well. I made one upgrade to install a solid state drive versus the old school hard drives. The SSD cost about $129 for 500GB of storage. That’s not huge by today’s standards, but keep in mind I store my archives in the cloud.
- Cloud Storage – With Google Drive. For me, it was tricky to sync it up properly, but now that it is running, it works flawlessly.
- Video – Camera is a simple Logitech HD 1080p Webcam 920. It has built-in sound/mic configuration. The quality is great. Set-up was straight forward.
- Video Conferencing – I switched to Zoom.us a few years ago. I like their service so much more than all the others. The recording features are super and fit well into my video interviews. Webinar production is easy too with Zoom.
- Web Hosting – Siteground has served me very well for several years now. The service is very cost effective. I find their support 24×7 is superior to all the others I’ve tried.
- Blogging Platform – WordPress is my go-to source. I’ll need another dedicated article to tell you about this if you don’t already know something about WP.
I hope this helps you get a better grip on working from home. Call or write with any questions.
Disclaimer: Some of the tools and services mentioned above do involve affiliate relationships with me and my company HeadwayExec, LLC. But I assure you, I don’t promote anything I haven’t used myself.