7 Working from Home Lessons I’ve Learned
I have been working from home since 2008 when I officially launched Effective Virtual Assistance, LLC. It’s hard to believe I’ve been working from home for 13 years already! Through those years I have definitely learned a few things along the way. I started my home business when my boys were pre-elementary school age, so I’ve managed my business, while also co-managing our family life, through many stages and ages. My oldest will graduate from high school this year, and while I’m so excited for what’s ahead for him, I know the day we move him into his dorm is going to be emotional and definitely not easy.
2020, what a year. It goes without saying that was a year the modern world will never forget. It was also a year that many people found themselves working from home, like it or not. I was fortunate not only to keep most of my clients, but to have already been accustomed to working from home where kid and animal distractions are possible at any moment.
I had a bunch of conversations with friends and neighbors that often included mention of how lucky I am to already have this “working from home stuff” figured out. Working from home is not practical for everyone, but those conversations did get me thinking about putting together a list of tips from the lessons I’ve learned. I hope you might find a tip or two that helps you organize and manage your work from home experience.
1. Take time for yourself.
Some might find this one a bit odd to start out, but I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Taking time for yourself is often something that goes on the back burner. I’m not suggesting you take an entire day off regularly, although that would be nice. I’m simply suggesting you schedule time, even just 30 minutes a couple times a week, to do something you enjoy by yourself. Something that doesn’t take that much time such as a hobby project, listening to a podcast, working out or journaling.
2. PICTURE THE FLASHING LIGHTS bringing your attention to lesson #2.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to work 24/7.
Making yourself available 24/7 is not only tempting, but for me, I felt obligated to respond to emails that came in “after hours”. When I decided to define my regular business hours and communicate that up front with my clients, it sure was a game changer for my family and my sanity. And my clients were very understanding!
3. Take short breaks during the day.
This is another one that is so easy to skip. Days fly by, right? However, getting up now and then to move around is a simple and well-known benefit for your health. Clear you head, get some fresh air, a glass of water, take a short walk…
4. Try to stick to a routine.
When you define your work hours, you set yourself up for success on keeping a routine. Planning your week in advance can help as well. You can revisit that plan each morning – we all know things change, and for those working parents, unexpected events are guaranteed to come out of nowhere. However, the more you can stick to a routine the better – for you and for those you live with.
5. Keep your workspace de-cluttered.
I’m guilty of letting my workspace get messy. I don’t have papers all over the place because the nature of my business keeps most of my work in electronic form. However, my task list and sticky notes along with the pile of “non-work” items I need to deal with tend to surround me. All I can say is when I take a few minutes to clean up my space, dust my desk and start over, it feels fantastic.
6. Define your workspace.
This can be a tricky one, especially if you have multiple people working from home or you don’t have an extra room/home office space. Even if all you have is a desk or a table in a corner, it can help to add a few touches such as inspirational quotes, family photos, and coordinating office supplies that give it a cheerful yet professional feel.
7. Train your kids on ‘the rules’.
Easier said than done, believe me I know. However, do you best to help your kids understand, from a young age, that when you are working they need to limit interruptions. For example, if my office door is closed, it means knock first. If you don’t have a separate office space, you could teach them that when you have headphones on, they need to knock on a nearby surface to get your attention vs simply walking up and talking to you like you have nothing else going on😊 Whatever your rules are, be consistent and eventually they will get it.
Katie Bauer started Effective Virtual Assistance, LLC, in 2008. Based out of Northern Virginia, Effective Virtual Assistance, LLC partners with small businesses locally and nationally to give business owners the time they need to focus on core business and revenue generating activities. With a firm belief that when a client is successful, that reflects on her success, Katie’s goal is to go above and beyond with each and every client task and project.
Over the years Katie has been contacted by aspiring VAs through clients or directly via her website, asking for insight and advice. She realized writing a short eBook to share her experience along with offering some of the documents and tools could benefit other Virtual Assistants. Visit her Etsy shop to find these great resources.
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