Working from the comfort of your home. Many employees dream about it, even more employers dread the idea. Regardless, the trend of working remotely from home or being self-employed and working from home is on the rise. According to Forrester Research’s US Telecommuting Forecast, “more than 34 million US adults telecommute at least occasionally” today and they predict that “Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016“.
One year ago I launched my first business venture doing freelance drafting and design from my home office. I have to admit that just like freelancing is not for everyone, the idea of working from home is not going to go smooth for everyone either. The concept of it is appealing to many, but just like with everything in life there are two sides to every coin.
Whether you are planning to do full-time drafting from your home or just freelance work on the side, below are eleven tips on how to effectively work from home based on my experience:
1. Have a daily work schedule
When you work from home there is always a temptation to stay up late, sleep in or work weird hours. To be highly productive though, it’s important to have a set schedule and stick to it. This will require some self-discipline, management skills and strong will, but results will be impressive.
Now, to have a “set schedule” doesn’t mean you have to work 9 to 5, most likely that will be impossible if you have young kids, speak from experience here. Instead, I like to batch similar tasks and dedicate specific time during the day, or night, to accomplish them.
2. Create an exclusive space for work
Having a special exclusive work space is highly important. If you have a spare bedroom, convince your wife, husband, parents, roommates that YOU NEED IT and convert it into an office (sounds easier that it really is). If you don’t have a luxury of having a separate room, dedicate a corner of your dining room or living room for your work. Do everything possible not to work in your bedroom, it will interfere with your down time later on.
Another benefit of having exclusive space for work in your home is IRS allows you to claim home-office deductions. I’m not an accountant, so make sure to consult with you tax professional. Below is my home office space.
3. Stay organized
Your home office space should not be “that extra room in your house where you store things”. It’s important to keep your office organized and clutter free. Invest in file cabinets for your files or even better go paperless. Make sure to not only keep your physical work area organized but also your virtual one. Use cloud based applications like Dropbox, Box and Evernote to keep your information, receipts, pictures, invoices and job files in one place. You can read how I use Evernote in my drafting firm here.
4. Dress for work
I know, working in your pajamas all day sounds good and all, but something happens mentally when you get dressed for work, even if your commute to work is 10 seconds. Putting on something I would wear to an actual office helps me to be more productive and accomplish tasks during the workday.
5. Get a standup workstation
This has been another trend lately and there is a good reason for it. Read these two articles by Michael Hyatt about why standup workstation is the way to go, “4 Reasons You Should Buy a Standup Desk – Right Now” and “Why Sitting Is Killing You”. I know, sounds dramatic but there is a lot of truth to it. I switched to standing workstation four months ago and I have absolutely no regrets about it. I feel more productive and energized throughout the day as a result of it. Standup desk can be expensive though, so as you can see in the picture below, I just converted my old drafting table into a standing workstation and it works perfectly fine.
6. Get a sitting workstation
That’s right! As nice as standup desk is, it’s not a good thing to stand all day either. It’s a good idea to be able to switch it up and have both options of working standing and sitting down. In the picture below you can see that I’ve made it easy for myself to switch between the two. I do most of my work at a standup desk during the day and my writing and other administrative activities sitting down at night. Just try it and find what works best for you.
7. Get a whiteboard
I love using apps and digital tools to stay organized but there is something about writing things down by hand on a whiteboard. I use my whiteboard mainly for organizing work and personal schedule for the coming week. Also, I post quick daily “to do lists” and status of all the current jobs that I’m running.
8. Go take a walk
When you do it right, your home office might become your favorite place, but you still should go outside once in a while. Being in one room all day can get to you, so it’s important to schedule, back to tip #1, regular exercise or at least walks. Taking a walk in the park or around the neighborhood with my wife and kids in the evenings is something that I look forward to everyday.
9. Stay connected with other drafters and designers
Even though I’m a big introvert and don’t mind working alone for prolonged period of time, I still am a social being. It’s important to be socially connected with other professionals. I try to schedule regular lunch or coffee with other drafters and designers in my area to connect and share experiences. I also find it helpful to be a part of some type of mastermind group, online or in person, to grow in your skills and stay accountable.
10. Stay away from your pantry
This is a tough one!
Sometimes It’s always hard to work knowing that there are snacks somewhere nearby. It’s a good idea to either limit what you buy or purchase healthy snacks (whatever that means).
11. DON’T just work from home
Remember why you wanted to work from home in the first place? Freedom! Right? So don’t become a prisoner of your own home office. You are your own boss, switch things around. Go work at a local coffee shop, meet people, connect. Another great option is to find a local coworking space, where you share a large office space with entrepreneurs, students, designers and all kinds of geeks. It’s always a fun productive environment.
So there you go, my 11 tips for freelance drafters working from home? Are you working from the comfort of your home? How long have you been working from home? What other tips would you suggest? Would love to hear from you!
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