- Jun 13, 2018
The following opinion may be based mostly on personal observation, but I think the number of people who work from home has reached a tipping point. Working from home used to be a fad, something people did while looking for more permanent employment. But now, I think people can build a rewarding and lucrative career from the comfort of their own homes.
The internet, with its abundance of money-making opportunities, has made this possible. And if you go online, you won’t find a shortage of advice on how to start a work from home career (this community happens to be on of the greatest sources of that kind of info).
But there’s one related topic I don’t see being discussed often - how to transition from a “traditional” office-based job to a home-based one. I decided to go home-based a couple of years ago, and the transition was not as smooth as you would expect. But I did learn a lot of things, and I’ll be sharing those learning with you, in the hopes that they help you prepare for a work from home career.
Prepare a Dedicated Work Space
Working from home is all about having clearly-defined boundaries. This works for you and the people you share your home with. When you have a space that is dedicated to work, you can focus better.
Yes, a home office never stopped my daughter for barging in while I was in the middle of a task, or my dad from asking me to drive him to his friend’s poker party. A home office doesn’t prevent distraction… but what it does is help you return to being focused.
When I’m in my home office, I know I’m in work mode… but I also know that distractions will always come. But as long as I’m in my office, I will keep returning to a focused state as soon as the distractions pass. And they will pass, as unlikely as it seems.
Without a dedicated workspace, boundaries get muddled. It’s harder to know whether you’re in work mode, or in homemaker/dishwasher/cook/family driver mode. So get a space for working - it doesn’t have to be an entire room. It could be a desk in the corner of the living room. What’s important is that you know that that spot is for work, and work alone.
Set Clearly-Defined Work Hours
Working from home gives you a bit of flexibility scheduling-wise. Just the same, I recommend you establish a clearly-defined work schedule. It could be 9 to 5, or 10 to 6 - whatever it is, you need to determine which hours should be set aside for work.
Now, I know flexible hours are one of the perks of working from home. I’m not saying your work schedule should be super-rigid. But having a work schedule will help you “budget” your time, so to speak. For example, let’s say I work 9am to 5pm, but have to set aside a morning to attend my daughter’s play. I know I’ll be losing 3 hours of work. I have the option of working those 3 hours after 5pm, or doing it the next day before 9am.
Since I have a defined schedule, I have a better idea of how to offset my hours - and that ends up giving me more flexibility! Without a defined schedule, things are more nebulous. If I spent a morning at the school play, I wouldn’t know how many hours I’ll have to make up for. I would just be flailing. So yeah, a schedule really helps.
Have a Pre-Work Routine
As a work from home peep, your morning commute will involve walking to the next room. Pretty sweet, huh? But that doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed and walk directly to your workspace. In fact, doing that can be pretty disastrous to your mood and mental health - and you won’t be working in peak efficiency, to boot.
That is because your mind needs a clear signal that it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get to work. When you go directly from bed to work, your mind hasn’t had the chance to prepare itself. The result is usually a foul mood and reduced work capacity.
What I do is I still wake up early, as if I had a regular commute. I make myself breakfast, take a long shower, then get dressed. I don’t wear business clothes (that would be ridiculous) but I do wear jeans, sneakers, and a plain shirt. This puts my mind in the correct, well, mindset. I recommend you find your own pre-work routine and stick with it.
Have a Post-Work Routine
Back when I was part of the corporate world, I always looked forward to my drive home (even with the terrible traffic). For me, driving home signaled me mind and body that okay, the workday is over; time to transition to rest mode. Driving may be tiring in its own way, but it was a clear boundary between being in work mode, and being in rest mode. By the time I got home, I was fully relaxed.
The first few years of working from home were quite different. I’d finish the day’s tasks and then immediately try to relax. It didn’t always work. Which I know sounds strange, because without having to drive home, shouldn’t I be more rested after work?
I had forgotten that my drive home was a clear signal to myself to shift modes. It was a post-work ritual. Now, after work, I have a set of activities I do before declaring the end of my workday. I get up from my desk, change my clothes… and that’s it! A post-work routine doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming. You just need to give your mind some cues that the day is over. For me, it was switching to my nighttime clothes.
Before you start working from home, you can try looking for certain actions that help you transition to post-work mode. It might take some trial and error, but the overall process shouldn’t be too hard.
Have Enough Savings
Okay, here’s a reality check. Working from home isn’t really cheaper than working in a traditional office. Working from home means you’ll have to pay extra electricity and your own equipment. If your computer breaks down, you can send it to the IT department. If your chair breaks or if the ceiling of your home office springs a leak, you can’t call the maintenance department. You’ll have to pay for those repairs out of your own pocket.
Don’t get me wrong - working from home offers some pretty significant savings in certain areas - mainly in health and sanity. But I still recommend you maintain some emergency funds for those days.
Don’t let this article faze you - working from home is a legit way to have an enjoyable, lucrative career. The positives far, far outweigh the negatives, and I can’t see myself moving back to a regular office. But with that said, it does take some getting used to. Keep the above tips in mind, and your transition from office drone to work from home rockstar will be much smoother!
This article is based on my own experiences shifting careers from office-based to home-based. Now it’s your turn to share! Do you work from home? How did you prepare for the change in career?
Let’s hear your stories!