Work/life balance when you work from home

April 30, 2009, 2:13 pmKBB

Here are some tips and tricks for working smart when you work from home.

I often hear people say ‘I’d love to work from home, but I wouldn’t have the motivation to do any work; I’d watch Oprah and Dr Phil.’ Working from home is a wonderful opportunity for many small business owners. It keeps your overheads low and gives you a huge amount of flexibility in the way you run your life. There’s usually no need to feel worried about having motivation to actually work when you’re at home – it’s amazing how much get up and go you develop when you’re working for yourself. In fact, often the reverse happens and people work themselves to the bone.

Getting the right work life balance is important, so here are some tips and tricks for working smart when you work from home.

Tip 1 – Get dressed

The stereotypical dress of someone working from home is a tracksuit and thongs; at best jeans and a t-shirt. But if you’re serious about running a business from home, it’s a good idea to get dressed in clean casual clothes to put yourself in a work frame of mind. You don’t need to put on a tie or high heels necessarily, but if you look smart even when you’re working from home, chances are you’ll sound professional when talking to clients and customers, which can only be good for business.

Tip 2 – Take breaks

It’s tempting when you work from home to work non-stop. This is a bad idea and will only cause you to burn out. It’s important when you work from home to break for lunch and at other times during the day. Get out and take a walk and do some exercise. And also make sure you take regular holidays. Taking breaks gives you a perspective on your business that’s hard to find if you’re over-working yourself.

One approach is to work to set business hours, just like a normal office. But this won’t suit a lot of people, who value the flexible hours working from home delivers. It also might not be possible due to the nature of the work you do. The message is: don’t spend all your time working, no matter how much you love your business. Balance is the key.

Tip 3 – Get out of the office

It’s not very healthy to spend all your time working from home; it’s important to get out and about. You need to make sure you keep up your skills and knowledge by doing courses or going to conferences. There are online conferences to help keep your skills up to date, but it’s also a good idea to front up in person to your main industry conference to develop contacts and keep on top of new trends in your area. It’s also a great idea to join a networking group or two. This can help you make new contacts as well as generate new business.

You also need to get out of the home office to go to see customers and clients, again to give you the opportunity to get out of the house once in a while. Seeing what goes on in other people’s businesses is also important so you can make sure you’re across new business practices and trends.

Working from home gives you fantastic flexibility, but it’s important to get the balance between work life and home life right, or your family and personal life, and ultimately your motivation and passion for your business, will suffer.