If you’re looking to set up a business, then as a startup, the most sensible way to get started is to initially work from home. See, many people rush out to secure premises upon starting their business because it makes them feel more “proper” and business like, whereas all successful entrepreneurs know the importance of frugality in the early days.
If you were to go out and get premises, then this means you are financially committed to paying rent on the property no matter what highs and lows your business experiences, it also makes you less agile, as one of the core benefits of being a start-up over and established company is the agility to respond to market conditions and other factors with speed.
On a personal level, working from home can be a great time saver as your time won’t be tied up with congested commutes… for many people, it will be the case of walking a few metres to their home office, which can make people feel quite smug, until the isolation kicks in.
For this reason, it’s important that whilst you are technically setting up a business from ‘home’ you don’t lock yourself away in isolation, like quasimodo… it’s imperative you touch base with the outside world from time to time, even if that’s just sitting in starbucks with your laptop or getting out to an exercise class.
Loneliness can be a huge factor when working from home, so be sure to engage in social activities and break up your day – even if it’s just a walk in the park. This way you’ll feel much more inspired and ward off any low mood due to the isolation of working from home.
You might also want to consider making use of co-working spaces, as these provide a low cost alternative to renting your own office and most have a good social element to them too.
In a nutshell, whilst working from home is the financially sensible way to move forward, as a startup, it isn’t always the most effective in terms of productivity and personal fulfilment – and can be a particular challenge if you struggle with focus and concentration, as it is.
Therefore, in this article we’re going to look at how to squeeze the most out of working from home, from a productivity perspective…
- CREATE A GOOD WORKING ENVIRONMENT
It’s essential to set up a good space in which you can work without distraction. You’ll want to it to create a space where you are comfortable yet not so comfortable you feel like catching up on the latest episode of your favourite box set.
You want this space to increase your focus and productivity, therefore, you want it to be a quiet and distraction free environment that is your private space. You, and your family, should respect the space as being for ‘work’ – just like how water tanks have a specific purpose to heat the hot water that fuels your morning shower, your home office has the specific purpose of getting things done that fuel your business growth.
- SETTING UP THE SPACE
You can’t focus in a cluttered environment, so the first step, is to remove all the clutter from the room. You then might want to paint the walls white, as this way, the light will bounce around the room creating a more ‘awake’ environment that is good for thinking with clarity.
It’s important you create a distraction free environment, therefore decluttering the space is a vital first step. Next up, you’re going to need some office furniture. In this vein, it’s important you invest in some decent equipment as this is a place where you’ll be spending a lot of time, so invest in a comfortable office chair, a large enough desk for you to spread yourself out on, and an adequate filing system should this be relevant to your business.
What you sit on is probably the most vital consideration, as there’s a good chance you’ll be sat at your desk for many, many hours, in the early days – burning the midnight oil. Therefore, you’ll want a chair that provides good ergonomic support.
The other consideration, that many people overlook, is the importance of getting a decent supply of fresh air into the office, as fresh air helps you focus and keep clear. If you’ve ever been in a hot and stuffy office, then you’ll know this can seriously hamper your productivity, so ensure you have a plentiful supply of fresh air in your working environment.
Similarly, the amount of light you have in your office will play a large part in your productivity. The more natural light in the space, the more productive you will be. In fact, have you ever noticed how when it’s grey outside we tend to be a little less productive, whereas when it’s sunny, we can’t help but feel uplifted, more motivated, and focused? This is why so many offices have bright panel lights.
That said, if you’re working late at night, it can be just as effective to employ the concepts of mood lighting – as this way, you’re staying true to your circadian rhythm, and will be more able to relax when it comes to hitting the sack.
- HAVE A ROUTINE
Working from home can be a blessing but also a curse; as whilst you now have unprecedented freedom to be your own boss and live life on your own terms – there’s a concept in psychology that states if you give someone too much choice, and too much freedom, they will feel overwhelmed – meaning they do nothing.
If you’re used to a routine, with work, particularly if you’re used to travelling to your place to work then this is known as a ‘ritual’ that puts you into the right emotional state to be productive. Many people don’t enjoy this particular ritual, and would prefer to live without the congested commute, but have you ever noticed how initially as you leave for work your energy is low, you might even feel sick, irritable and tired – but as you arrive at your office, you have shaken that off and feel set to work?
This is because your body has got into a routine where it associates a particular emotional state with that pattern, that triggers a certain behaviour.
When it comes to working from home, it’s all too easy to have a lay in, or grab the laptop and work from the comfort of your soft, warm bed – particularly on a cold day – yet, having the discipline of a routine will really help you to stay focused.
Some people swear by the routine of getting dressed in business attire, even if they are just sitting in their home office all day – as this ritual puts them into a conducive emotional state, whereas lounging around in your pyjamas puts you in a very different state.
The other factor to consider, when it comes to routine, is that you want to make sure you get out of the house in the morning.
Sometimes, particularly if you’re working to a deadline, you will wake up, have a shower, get some breakfast and then go straight to your home office – without even stepping out of the front door. Then, you’ll have lunch at home, and before you know it, it’s 6pm and you haven’t left the house.
This can lead to a feeling of isolation and depression, so it’s important you get out of the house, early in the morning – whether that’s just to take a walk around the block, go out to buy your morning paper, or head to the gym for an empowering workout.
Routine is very important if you want to keep yourself mentally healthy and focused; which is particularly true for introverted people, as whilst many introverts enjoy the solitude of working from home – it’s important to have some routine that ensures social stimulation.
- WORK WHEN YOU’RE WORKING
All too often, when working from home, you can get distracted. Again, with too much freedom comes the potential for massive distraction and procrastination.
Unlike an office environment where you’re around other people that are in the ‘productivity zone’, it can be much easier to indulge in temptation within a home office, such as catching up on an episode of your favourite box set, checking social media, or getting distracted by what’s going on around you – such as family conversations you might be able to overhear.
It’s imperative you “work” when you set out time to work, as otherwise, you’ll end up feeling like you are constantly working with no down time – as you won’t get what you need to get done complete in your work time.
Indeed, it can be helpful to set yourself working hours, where you block out time that you will be in the office. This time, must be dedicated to getting things done, knowing that after work time, you can enjoy some downtime.
This is the great thing about working somewhere other than home, such as library, university campus, coffee shop or shared space. It means that you have a physical distinction between work time and play time. In fact, there’s a lovely feeling about coming home from the office, knowing that your work is done – whereas, if your home is your office, it can be much harder to draw that distinction.
Therefore, it’s imperative you block out time where you work (e.g. between 10am and 4pm) each and every day, no matter what. Indeed, it would be better to work less hours, but focus much more, than it would to drift through the day with the intention of working, but ended up half focused on work and half focused on other things.