Thursday, 25 June 2009

Homeworking and staying sane

Wendy Pascoe's book "Starting a Business in the Country" has a great chapter called "Working from home - the best option?"

She suggests some tips for how to "stay sane" when you're working at home, because the boundaries between "work" and "not work" are necessarily more blurry when you work from home.

Here are her tips:
  1. Try to start and finish at a set hour. Or have an unbreakable rule: 'I will never work past 7pm'.
  2. Have two (or three or four) breaks a day.
  3. Make sure you still see people. This is particularly important if you live alone. Make a point of meeting a supplier, customer or client every week or two. It's also good for business because it puts faces to names.
  4. Develop more friends socially because you won't have work colleagues to fall back on.
  5. Treat work as seriously as you would if you were going out to work. Tell your family and friends that your piano practice or potting up of baby bamboos is just as important as sitting in an office staring at a screen.
  6. Set yourself targets and give yourself treats if you meet them. 'If I finish this project by Wednesday lunchtime I can go for a walk / have a bar of chocolate.' You need self-discipline for this one.
  7. Ignore housework. If you were working in a formal office environment you wouldn't pop home to unload the dishwasher or do some ironing, so why should this be any different?
I've got some thoughts to add to those tips.
  1. Good in theory, doesn't often happen in practice, especially if you're what Emma Jones calls a '5-9er', working as well as holding down a job. I guess what Wendy's very wisely saying is don't overdo it and get burn-out.
  2. Yes, very important. I often get a dose of extra brain zing when I've had a break and a cup of Redbush tea.
  3. Agreed 100%. Face to face is always the best way to do business. If you'd rather not have business contacts come to your home, arrange to meet them at a local business centre, cafe or hotel.
  4. Especially important if you've done what I did 2 years ago and moved to a new area where you don't know a soul except your spouse/partner/children/family/cat. I've taken up playing folk fiddle again (cue endless puns about an accountant on the fiddle!) which is a great way to meet new people.
  5. It's all there in the title - homeworking.
  6. Self discipline so you don't scoff too many bars of chocolate? Or so that you'll chase yourself away from your desk?
  7. Not sure I agree with this one. I think one of the advantages of working from home is that nobody minds if I set a video producing and then go and tidy the kitchen while my computer's whirring. Or that I can run out to rescue the washing off the line if it starts raining (as it frequently does in Cumbria).
What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I never knew about the folk fiddle. You have hidden depths!


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