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I work from home for over 3 years now. I worked in an office environment 9 years before that and enjoyed especially the company of self-minded and creative colleagues around me. So I’ve seen both scenarios lately and still decided to keep my home-office for the time being. Here are the most important insights I made to make working from home really work out for you…

External Office or Home-Office?

I think, write, shoot videos, learn, create online campaigns and optimize their successes. Sometimes I do calls with people who help me or with people who could help me. This kind of work can be done from home.

But the decision of working from home or taking an external office can be difficult. While I’m working from home at the moment, I do consider renting a small external office from time to time. There are advantages for each.

The advantages of working from home are:

  • no commute time
  • you can design your home-office to your liking, where you feel inspired, productive and creative
  • possibly less disturbance by co-worker etc., therefore more focused work
  • no extra costs for an office (but you need the room at home of course)
  • flexible and probably less stressful
  • it’s comfortable

But disadvantages are:

  • it’s comfortable (yes, this can be a big disadvantage as well)
  • you need more self-discipline
  • you could get disturbed by your family
  • you don’t get out of the house
  • less social interaction
  • mixing up the balance of private with work life

So when you decide to work at home, how can you make it work out?

1. Your Work Environment: Do Not Get Disturbed!

You need a room for yourself, which can be closed, so you can’t get disturbed. This is very important.

My home-office is a pretty big room all for myself with large windows and a nice view, so it’s comfortable. My work consists mainly of creative work or of business strategy and marketing, planning and executing.

But for 2 years this room connected 2 other rooms and had an entrance door. This was far from being ideal and needed to change.

Make sure that your working environment can be closed and you do not get disturbed while working. Get rid of disturbing things like TV’s and other potential time-wasters before you even think of using them.

2. Your Work Time: Set a Fixed Schedule!

When you work, you work. Don’t do anything else and don’t get side-tracked. Working from home has this big, big disadvantage that you could mix up work-life and private life.

Do not do household work and do not extent your breakfast.

The right way to avoid that is to set a fixed schedule, same as if you would start at 9 am at an external office. So set a schedule to sit at your desk at 9 am. Don’t do private stuff and end your work at 6 pm.

This will give you the structure any external job provides automatically and then you don’t have to use your self-discipline and energies to just make sure that you actually work.

3. Organize Yourself: Set Goals and Plan Your Work

Being productive and achieving results starts with being focused and organized.

The first thing is to have clear goals for your work. So set the right goals that excite you and drive you to take action. This will keep you on track. It will make sure that you are ambitious and will always see the big picture. This will create the right mindset for your success.

The second thing is to plan out your week on Mondays (or Sundays) and then also start your day with a brief plan for the day. This should be a prioritized list of your most valuable tasks, those that bring you right to your set goals. Then immediately start with the most important, highest priority task.

4. Create Purposeful Interactions

Look for people who can help you to achieve your business goals. Maybe you can network people you are doing something similar or are in the same niche. Maybe you can find a true partner. Maybe you can find the right employee.

Having contact with like-minded people gives you the opportunity to test your own work and to have meaningful social contact. Make sure that this has a purpose and is useful for your goals. Otherwise it would be just socializing and unproductive.

If you can, create some external dependencies in order to increase your commitment to be productive. This can be done by setting a goal and communicating it to one of your close friends (or maybe even publicly if you are courageous).

5. Stop Work, Then Be 100% Private

Another danger of working from home is that you’re really working all the time. If you are not sitting at the desk, you may still work in your head. In other words: you may have a hard time to let go of your work if you do not leave as you would do with an external office.

I know that this can be helpful when you do creative work and get into the flow. But it is harmful for your private life.

In order to perform on the highest level, you need the balance and a strong private life. So when it’s time, close the home-office door and take your mind with you. :-)

All in All…

… I still enjoy working from home. But I have set up a pretty good home-office by now, which was a process. I don’t necessarily think that working from home is better as working in an external office. It obviously depends on the kind of job you do. But by following these 5 points you can master working from home to a pretty good level and actually enjoy it’s benefits.

If you have any suggestions, please leave your comment.

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2 comments

  1. Comment by Jorge Blanco

    Jorge Blanco Reply January 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I work from home and I think my big problem is separating my work life and personal life. On busy days, I do still have time to spend with myself or with friends, but my mind still keeps churning ideas about the current tasks I’m handling. I think about what I need to write about for the following day in my head. It’s a challenge, alright. I guess it all starts with letting go of work right at the time you decide to stop working for the day. Truly let go and put your mind’s focus on quality R and R.

  2. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply January 31, 2013 at 4:41 am

    Yes Jorge, that’s a common problem. I had this mixup of private and work-life, or in other words the problem of letting go your work-life earlier. I think an external cure is separating office from living areas. Another one is making the conscious decision that you value your private life the same as your work life, and make your private life equally fulfilling and interesting.

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