When first starting your own business or venture, the chances are your income will be minimal and you’ll have to make some sacrifices in order to make things work. For a lot of online entrepreneurs and business people, one of those sacrifices is to start on their journey working from home.
Some people prefer to work from home, and if that’s the best way you work, then you can own it. Take my friend Zac Johnson, for example, who has worked from his home for over 20 years building up a very successful business and personal brand.
However, most of us will dream of one day having a beautiful office space filled with the latest technology and our own staff running around the place keeping it busy (I do anyway). The problem is, in order to do this, you either need funding or need to be earning enough money to afford the overheads of running some external space, hence why so many newcomers start out by working from home.
In my case, I began my first ever online business from a first edition MacBook sitting on the corner of my bed in between split shifts working as a chef in my rundown, tiny, and old rental flat. Now, however, I can afford a place with a dedicated room for my office, and we also have an office for our Lovecars team, which we plan to expand on this year. I’ve done 3-4 years solid of working from home, and although I plan on being in our new offices very soon this year, I’ve picked up some good tips and tricks in order to get the most out of my working from home situation.
Above you will see the pictures of when a friend and I managed to convert and redecorate one of our bedrooms in order to turn it into my full-time office space. Here are some tips to help you work from home:
Separate Work from Play.
As I wrote above, I was fortunate to have my own place with a spare room, which we dedicated to my office. However, it doesn’t have to be an entire room. You just need to get clever in separating your normal home living space from your work environment.
Use dividers, fake walls, or other clever ways to separate your work area in your home. Absolutely nothing except “work” should happen in your work area. Get a desk, get official, and don’t be a couch potato. You’ll never expand or grow with a “sofa” mentality.
Get a Cleaner.
This may sound silly to some of you and some of you may laugh, but when you work from home, you literally live and breathe your home. People who work externally will spend less than 40% of their lives at home, whereas us who work from home likely spend 80% here.
When you work from your house, you soon notice distractions like something that’s dirty, something that needs fixing, or some washing that needs to be done. If you were at an office, you wouldn’t be able to give the kitchen a quick clean. So instead of distracting your mind with these types of things, hire someone once a week to do them for you.
I personally have a cleaner whom I pay $30 a week to come and clean my apartment for me. It may sound ridiculous, but I used to constantly stress and worry about things that would catch my eye each day. Now there’s nothing for me to worry about.
Again, another thing some may question or think is silly, but to me, this has improved my working from home balance and increased my productivity. A huge part of being productive and staying on focus is your personal fitness and growth.
Several months ago, I hired a personal trainer in order to train me 2-3 times a week. What this does is force the issue of fitness and make me accountable to someone else. As I’m paying him a large amount of money and subjecting myself to a specific time and day each week, I have zero excuses from keeping myself fit. If I don’t turn up, I lose the money. If I don’t work out, I get less productive.
So I’m forcing myself to do something that’s actually really good for me. It also gets me out of the house 2-3 times a week for some fresh air as we train outside, which brings me onto my next point.
Get a Change of Scenery.
Working from home by yourself all day every day can come with some personal issues and demands. Depression is very high amongst entrepreneurs and, more so, those who work from their homes. It’s time to get out! At least once a day, I try to change up my scenery.
Luckily, I have a beautiful pet dog Dennis who requires walks each day, which is another great tip for working from home. Dogs get you out and about, and it’s very good/healthy to get out of your home/work environment for a change of scenery.
Another thing I try to do is to work from somewhere completely different a few times a week. My partner Andy and I will pick ourselves up from our home offices and meet at a different cafe, restaurant, or bar each week, just to change it up and get out. Even if it’s a walk round the block or a run as I explained in this blog post, that helped me tremendously. Get yourself out and get a change of scenery to recharge.
Stick to a Routine.
When you work from home, you’re normally your own boss. This means you need to act as a boss to yourself, be strict, and work to a routine. The day you put your alarm on snooze and fail to get out of bed until the afternoon is the day you need to find some office space because you can’t let yourself take the piss!
Every single day without fail, I’m up out of bed at 7.30am when my alarm goes off and I go straight into the shower. I eat my breakfast as any normal worker would and then check myself into my office, which I don’t then come out of until midday when I stop to walk the dog and have lunch. Do I have a 3-hour lunch? Watch a film? Play some PlayStation? Do I do shit? No, I allow myself 30 minutes to eat some healthy food and then check myself back into the “office” until my partner gets home from work at 5.
You wouldn’t get away with turning up to work and doing the hours you want if you worked for someone, so why should you take the liberty now? The only thing that will suffer is your business and the fact that you’re not making the most out of your situation. Whether you work 5 or 7 days a week, stick to your hours and be strict as your own boss. Which reminds me;
Dress for Work.
Would you go to your office job in your pyjamas? Well, don’t allow yourself to do it from home. Half the battle when working from home is staying motivated enough to get the work done and not letting yourself be distracted. If you’re wearing lounge pants, you have a lounge mentality.
Every day, I make sure I put on a pair of trousers or jeans, NEVER lounge pants and a shirt or t-shirt. I even ran an experiment once whereby I wore pyjamas for a whole day to see how I felt and how my productivity was, and the results are as you assumed. Working in the correct work gear pretty much doubled my intensity. Don’t allow yourself to become lazy. Have a shower, dress properly, and get to work on time!
A nice bonus for working from home – and one that a lot of people won’t know about or claim for – is the fact that you can claim expenses through your accountant for working from home.
In the UK and I’m sure US, you’re able to claim for a percentage of your house upkeep, as it is after all your work place also. Also, don’t forget to put your internet, phone, and any other bills affected and used by your business through your business. It’s within your rights and is completely white hat.
For any equipment, hardware, decorations, IT software, etc. that you buy and use for your business, claim them on your tax bill. My whole office pictured above was paid for by my business, and the great thing was it added overall value to my property. You can even pay for your lunches each day through your business, as they are after all a business expense.
Working from home isn’t for everyone and, for me, is coming to an end, but I thoroughly enjoy working from home now that I have the above in check. It sounds silly, but hiring a cleaner and PT has doubled my productivity and cleared my conscience. Anything you can do to enable you to work harder, better and faster is a plus in my book!
Share your tips and experiences from working from home below!