How to work from home without losing the plot

Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure, you’re free to spend all day running your business in your pyjamas – with unlimited access to the contents of your pantry and Netflix (or is that just me?) – but there are some definite challenges. And I’m not just talking about the quandary that develops when one drips nacho sauce onto one’s onesie. (“Do I change out of these pyjamas into other pyjamas? Or should I actually get dressed?”)

Fear not! As an avowed worker-from-home, I’m here to help you get over the hurdles. (First hint: when working in PJs, avoid nighties – they’re harder to jump hurdles in.)

1. Limit your distractions

When working from home, stay focussed by avoiding multitasking.

I’ve been known to have various things in the oven and clothes in the washer/dryer while simultaneously working. Some might applaud this as “getting things done” but leaving your desk to check on a cake or a washer/dryer are all interruptions that break your concentration and interrupt your flow.

(Incidentally, horrifically burnt banana bread can also interrupt your “flow”.)

2. Maintain a work-only space

A big challenge of working from home is that it can be really hard to “switch off”.

Unlike business operators who can leave their work at their office, those who work from home can often feel unable to escape their workplace when it’s time to relax.

If possible, avoid working from your couch, bench, kitchen table or – god forbid – toilet (iPads enable us to work everywhere…) Instead, set up a desk or designated workstation in a room you can close the door on at the end of a work day.

Avoid setting up anything work-related in your bedroom, unless of course you’re operating a microbusiness within the adult industry (yes, I went there).

3. Stay close to your professional network

Operating a business from home shouldn’t limit your ability to engage with your contemporaries. And when I say “engage” I mean more than just “Facestalk”.

Make it a real priority to attend conferences, presentations or other industry events related to your business, regardless of whether or not there’s free booze. This not only provides a social connection to like-minded business folk, but keeps you abreast of industry news and developments. It also maintains your business’ presence in your field.

A well-kept professional network is a great resource when you require any kind of support – especially if you’re on the lookout for a good workplace footy-tipping competition.

4. Deck yourself out with the right tech

Don’t scrimp on technical equipment or services just because your business happens to operate from home.

Having the best technical capability means any micro-business can compete on the same playing field as a larger business. It’s a must, unless of course you’re Amish.

Make sure you have the right communications equipment, printer/copier/scanner, power supply and internet services for your requirements, or risk having to release carrier pigeons every time you have something to say (although this could be perfect if you have something to say about carrier pigeons).

5. Increase your face-to-face opportunities

Working from home can be isolating. You know you’re really feeling it when you a) give your coffee mug a name and start talking to it a la Tom Hanks and that volleyball in Castaway or b) wait by your letterbox for your postie’s arrival then grab them by the shoulders, pull them close and whisper “Please don’t leave me”.

Try using Skype for some of your interactions to reinvigorate yourself occasionally. Just make sure the camera view doesn’t take in the nacho sauce drips on your PJs…