Success in the home office

Success in the home office No.2

Welcome to the second of my top tips series on discipline for home workers.

Work with your body clock

It’s one of the best things about working from home. You can start work at 11am, 4am, or 9pm if you want to! It really is up to you. As long as you are doing what you need to get done for your clients, if you’re at your best at an unusual time of day, you can work with that. The strict rules of office hours are behind you. You don’t have to drag yourself out of bed at 6.30am to get showered and dressed and stumble onto a train to be in the office for 9am. Be kind to yourself and work in line with your natural rhythms, rather than against them.

Do you know what your natural rhythms are? Most of us are either a night owl – at our best after dark and a bit slow in the mornings – or a lark – alert in the morning and ready for bed well before midnight. Owls especially can find themselves at odds with 9-5 working days. Building up a sleep debt over a long period of time can be very damaging to the health, so it’s important you take the opportunity working from home brings to be well rested.

It’s a big cultural shift for home workers and it can take a bit of getting used to. Years of watching your boss check his or her watch as you walk in and measuring exactly one hour for your lunch break (or half an hour if you’re really unlucky!) become such a way of life it can be hard to give yourself permission to get that extra hour of sleep you need in the morning, or nip out to the shops in between client calls. But this is what being your own boss means – you set the hours, you define when and how the work gets done.

Which brings me to my next point. The work must still get done! This is not a licence to procrastinate! An eight or nine-hour working day is still recommended; I’m simply saying you decide when you work those hours. You could, for example, work in the morning and the evening and take the afternoon off for a nap or time with the kids, or have a lazy morning and work after lunch through to bedtime. Or you can spread your hours out all through the weekend and include weekend working in your schedule, or even fit everything into three or four intensive working days and put your feet up for a long weekend.

Personally, I do tend to stick to office hours, but I’m quite happy to take a day off in the week if I need that break and catch up at the weekend. So long as your clients’ needs are properly balanced with yours, do what you like. No-one is breathing down your neck any more.

However, it’s important that any evening and weekend working you do is your choice, rather than being something you have ended up doing it in a haphazard way to catch up. That is not efficient or enjoyable home working and it’s hard to concentrate when you’re constantly kicking yourself!

If you have any other tips for successful home working, do drop me a line on the number at the left of this screen, or post a comment below.

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