3 Reasons a Home Office Might Not be a Good Idea
It’s 7:00 am. You just sat down at your desk with a steaming cup of joe ready to conquer the day and show the world why you could be the next Mark Zuckerberg. You turn on your laptop and start to gather your thoughts, when suddenly the glimmer of the most ingenious, life-altering, game-changing idea begins to manifest in the corner of your mind. You hone in on it, reach out to grab it by the horns, and then…
In walks a sleepy-eyed 4-year-old sporting a pair of Frozen pajamas and toting around an old blanket. She climbs up into your lap, mashing down some random keys on your computer as she goes.
“I’m hungry,” she announces.
“What do you want? I’ll get you something,” you assure her. After all, one of the perks to working for yourself is that you can control your own hours, and making breakfast doesn’t really take that long. You get up and start toward the kitchen.
What was that thought you had earlier? Oh, well. It’ll come back–maybe.
Okay, so maybe you haven’t been robbed of a once-in-a-lifetime idea by your sweet little mini-me, but chances are, if you’re working from home, you might be robbing yourself of potential productivity. While there’s no hard evidence to suggest that you should definitely steer clear of working from your humble abode, here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not a home office is right for you.
Let’s face it. For a lot of us, working from home means periodically having to pause to accommodate the needs of kids or pets (or spouses for that matter). Remember that mountainous pile of laundry that you suspect may have consumed the family cat? What about those telemarketers that always seem to forget you’ve asked them at least a dozen times to take you off their call list? Because your home is where you live, life can sometimes get in the way of business productivity.
Discouraged? Don’t be. Although distractions are always looming on the peripherals of any home office, there are steps you can take to keep them at bay. Establish a schedule for yourself and make sure that you clearly communicate that schedule with family and friends, so they know what times of the day to give you some space. Keep your work space neat and tidy–despite what the rest of the house looks like–and resolve to turn a blind eye to unfinished projects and clutter during your bathroom breaks. Don’t think you can do that? Remind yourself that picking up dirty clothes won’t pay the bills, but achieving your business goals will! Once you’ve reached your working goal for the day, you can tackle those household chores.
A big part of the business success equation that entrepreneurs sometimes miss out on is relationships, and understandably so. With the overwhelming amount of time it takes to develop a brand and create a business strategy, it’s easy to get so focused on your company that you forget about those who might buy, invest in, or advocate for your business. The isolation trap can be especially tricky for home office workers to navigate, since you really don’t even need to wear pants to go to work (Unless, that is, you’re doing a video conference–then pants are highly recommended.).
So how can you avoid the isolation trap? Attend networking workshops and community events. Get out and meet people. Share your story with them. And in turn, they’ll more than likely share their story, ideas, and advice with you.
Ever laid awake in bed, thinking about those invoices that you needed to write up and send out but just didn’t get to? When those invoices are just on the other side of the wall, it becomes easier to fall into the routine of working during all hours of the day and night, tackling any and all work-related projects that cross your mind, and before you know it, you’re no longer “working to live life abundantly” but rather “living life to work abundantly.”
So how can avoid the psychological confusion that comes from living AND working in the same space?
Be intentional and establish boundaries. Confine work-related items to your office or a space you’ve carved out for that specific purpose. Keep your company and personal mail separate, and set company office hours. You may not be able to always confine your work load to those set hours, but by creating a workday schedule, you can begin to train your brain to know the difference between when your home is used for working and when your home is used for living.
So where can you go if you think you need to work somewhere other than home (at least sometimes)? Dayton hosts some cool co-working spaces where entrepreneurs, business professionals, and creatives alike can mingle and collaborate. These spaces can also serve as great places to have meetings with potential customers, employees, and vendors.
Regardless of where you work, with the right resources and a solid strategy, you can grow your business. So evaluate your unique needs and challenges, develop a plan that makes sense for you, and get going!