"Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing... layout, processes, and procedures." Tom Peters
Working from home has become part of the norm over the last decade and whether you work in corporate and work from home a couple of days a week, or you are self-employed and work from home full-time it is essential to set up simple processes to assist in your working practice.
Here are five top tips to help you focus on a beneficial working environment.
Tip 1 - Office space
Try and create a dedicated workspace that is comfortable and practical. Ideally, this is a separate room in the house, or even an outbuilding in the garden, that you are able to turn into a business area with a desk and shelving for your files and business books. By establishing a working environment it is easier to switch into "business mode" and focus on the working day ahead.
If you have to improvise and your office is the kitchen table, tidy away the breakfast bowls, switch off the TV or any other distractions before you start work so you have a clean and uncluttered workspace and can avoid being sidetracked from your work tasks.
Tip 2 - Establish your boundaries - and stick to them!
Put a routine in place: if possible start work at the same time every day; plan proper breaks and be disciplined about your finishing time. Try and take a break at lunchtime and go for a short walk as the fresh air and change of scenery helps to refresh you for the afternoon.
Try and establish a working mindset - I know someone who always leaves the house five minutes before she starts work, walks down the road and when she comes back into the house she is arriving at work and is ready to start her working day.
Be clear with your clients the acceptable times they can contact you and advise them of your working hours. If you have a separate business phone line in the house make sure it is turned down in the evening and set to voicemail to avoid the temptation to take calls in the evening. If clients are aware of your boundaries and call after hours they will not be expecting the call to be answered and will probably be leaving a message to be dealt with the following day.
Family and friends - be clear with them when you are working you don't have time for a long gossip or that you are available to be a taxi service for the children just because you are at home! If you have small children let them know when your office door is shut you cannot be disturbed.
Tip 3 - Tidy desk policy
It is generally accepted that a tidy desk is a sign of efficiency and effectiveness. There are also scientific studies which have shown there is a reduction of stress when you have a tidy desk. In a corporate environment there is generally a tidy desk policy in place so this mindset can easily be replicated in the home "work space".
By clearing your desk at the end of the day helps switch off from work; when you return to your office you start afresh with a clear mindset and focus on the new day.
Tip 4 - To do lists
Write all your actions in one place. There are plenty of great apps that synch with your computer, mobile, and tablet. I update my To do list each evening and sort into date order. At the end of each day I print this list out so I can see what I have scheduled for the next few days.
Tip 5 - Notepad
Write all your notes and scribbles in one place and not on scraps of paper which are easily mislaid! I have an A4 pad that I either have by the phone or I carry with me and whenever I take a client briefing I write it in this pad. Also, write the client's name and date by the notes to help as a reminder.