Working from home can be great for time management and can contribute to a healthier work-life balance - especially when you are your own boss. It can be easy to succumb to the temptations surrounding you in such a cosy environment. TV isn’t too far away… And that packed-out fridge looks mighty tempting… Should I just tidy those last few bits up? With this in mind, we’ve put together 10 top tips to make working from home productive and guilt-free!

1. Get ready for work like any other working day

As tempting as it may be to spend the day in your PJ’s, you wouldn’t visit a client in your t-shirt and joggers. You shouldn’t be approaching your working day from home like you would a day off in front of the TV. There’s no need to suit up in your smartest attire but a smart-casual outfit will keep you feeling fresh and professional. It will also give you something else to change into, so you feel like you’ve really finished your working day.

2. Create a work space

This will be your working quarters. Your own office. So let’s clear out any major distractions including TVs, games consoles, music systems etc. You want to feel like the time you spend here will be productive, any of the above will not only provide temptation but a downhill spiral - should you give in!

Make sure you kit out your snazzy new work space with everything you need. If your job involves the use of a desktop or laptop computer then be sure to have easy access to power points, and try to think about where the sun might hit. The last thing you’ll need is a nasty glare! Then again, your work might be more hands on in the way of crafting, building and designing. In which case, make sure you do have enough space, suitable flooring and all of your tools.

3. Keep your workspace neat and tidy

Try not to let your to-do pile stack up around you or else you might start to crumble underneath it! Not literally but, it will impact on your mood and productivity if your work space gets cluttered. Keep a wastebin nearby and try to use your cup more than once - after all, when you work for yourself, you’re the cleaner as well as the head honcho!

4. Plan your day at home in advance

Pick up a simple “to-do list” from your local stationery shop and start each day with a plan. Think realistically about what you could achieve today and set yourself some targets. It’s a great feeling to strike each task off as you go and will egg you on to be even more productive. Concentrate on the most important jobs first, that way if you don’t get them all done, at least the big stuff is out of the way.

5. Make sure you’re contactable at all times

You might have been an “employee” before you leaped into self-employment. So you will know that a company environment is a strong foundation for building a professional relationship with potential and established clients. Trust, efficient communication and clear examples of your hard work and progression are just a few of the invaluable benefits that come with it. Don’t let yourself down and keep this up at home! Purchase a separate mobile phone strictly for work purposes and keep it on loud! The same goes for your instant messenger notifications and maybe assign a significant PING for when an urgent email from a client hits your inbox.

6. That said - make sure you’re contacting the right people…

Make it clear to friends, family and chatty neighbours that whilst you may be physically based at home, that doesn’t mean you can come out to play. Don’t get distracted by persuasive friends and their tempting invites to a “quick drink” or a “leisurely lunch”! Avoid these friends at all costs! Well, for your designated working hours at least. By fending them off until you shut down for the evening, you can simply enjoy the rest of your night. And you can do so without that slightly guilty feeling as a reminder, you know, that you could have worked a little harder today… .

7. Stay active and take a stroll

A productive day doesn’t mean you’re strapped to your chair for eight hours with the blinds down, under lock and key. In fact, we’d encourage you to get outside and breathe in some fresh air every few hours. It’s good to experience a physical separation from work, think of it as a “mini-commute”. It could be a perfect opportunity to water the garden, pop to the shops for a bite to eat or just enjoy a 10-minute stroll. Not only can this stave the desire for social interaction (that a daily tea-break natter would usually fix!) but it also avoids cramps and bad posture. But treat it like an office lunch break and set a time limit because that work will definitely still be there when you get back!

8. Healthy snacks

Don’t get sucked in by their delicious slogans! “Take a Break” indeed but do not reach for too many. Before you know it, you’ll be choc-a-block full of sugars and additives. Great for five minutes but you’ll have more energy on something slightly more substantial. Prepare some healthier snacks in the morning, you could slice up some crunchy vegetables and have them with hummus, sour cream or creamed avocado. Keep your snacks light and nutritious but don’t let them get boring. You could always steal a few ideas from here.

9. Be flexible with your schedule and finish well

If you’ve followed tip #3 then you should be gleefully striking off your accomplishments throughout the day. Although you should try your best to stick to your schedule, be kind to yourself and make allowances. Instead of racing to get everything finished by 5pm or sacrificing your chill-out time to work into the early hours of the morning, it’s up to you to make a judgement call. Would it be wiser to finish what you’ve started today to a high standard and save the rest for tomorrow? In doing so, you are allowing yourself time to rejuvenate and encouraging fresh ideas to flow. It will also give you confidence that you can manage your time and workload effectively, and stop you feeling overwhelmed.

10. Embrace the opportunity to work from home

No, you didn’t have a stressful commute to and from work. Nor did you shell out extra pennies on petrol and packaged sandwiches. So naturally, your friends and family with regular 9-5 office jobs might jealously comment on “how lucky” you are to be self-employed and working from home. To an extent, that may be so. However, the pressures of being your own boss are arguably more stressful. Using your home as an office space is convenient, economical and flexible for your lifestyle - embrace it!

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