Monday, July 14, 2008

Working from Home: a perspective

As you may or may not know, the zen kitchen is a virtual studio - which means that I, along with my programmer and anyone else I happen to collaborate with on a particular project, work from home. Normally, this works out quite well - but as many other home-based entrepreneurs I know can attest, it takes some serious getting used to.

Recently, I've been thinking a bit about the stuff I've needed to figure out since I started working from a home office. As attractive as it sounds to the cubicle slave, working from home is really not an easy thing - especially if, as I am, you tend to be a bit too much of a multitasker. I've had days when I was so productive I forgot to eat lunch, and I've had days when I spent so much time on laundry, the gym, the dishes, my garden, etc. that all the stuff I had on my studio to-do list went by the wayside.

So what's a girl to do, then? How do you run a business out of your home without either burning out or wasting the day on home chores?

I can't pretend to know all the answers, but here's some of the stuff I've learned along the way:
  • Get up early, but don't get too caught up in getting straight to work. Once I started waking up around 7am and easing into my day instead of waking up around 9ish and trying to get straight into my day, my productivity increased about 150%. I can't say enough about this - it really, really is key. I also try to fit my gym time into the earlyish mornings so I can get my workouts done before I have to get focused on other things.
  • Have an actual office, or some system that clearly delineates "work space" from "home space." A spare bedroom is best, but even if you have to set up on the dinner table, find a storage system that allows you to put your work away when you're done for the day and not look at it until the next day. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that your work and home life can get so intermingled that you feel like you need to be at work all the time, and that'll make you resent your home - you need to be able to separate the two.
  • Make your workspace pretty. It seems fairly elementary, but it's really not - if your space is poorly organized, or cluttered, or generally unattractive, it's not going to help you get things done. Recently, I realized that one of my major issues with my current workspace was that the walls, which were painted about the color of butter, were so bland that I just couldn't feel creative, and the space generally felt cluttered and icky. A couple of coats of paint and moving around all the furniture later - I've had a string of productivity that's in its third week and shows no signs of letting up.
  • Make time for little breaks during your day. It's very tempting to work straight through the day, but you need those little breaks in order to stay on track. I take about 5 minutes every hour or so to go out and visit my garden, and it's been much easier to get back to work after that bit of breathing room.
If you're one of those who works from home, I hope that these tips help you. What are your strategies for working from home?

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