working from home

We all love the idea of working from home, right? Getting to wake up in your pyjamas and stay in your pyjamas until 3 pm and never really having to worry about brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or being dressed at all, if you so choose. But the reality is, working from home or having a “home business” may not be for everyone. Some of us thrive on getting out and going to the office, even if that office is the local Starbucks.

So, how can you become a successful “work at home” person? Are there steps you can take to ensure your success?

There are, of course, and if you follow these tips, you will increase your chances at actually getting work done and decrease the amount of times you turn on XBox, Maury reruns, or scrounging around for leftovers in the fridge.

1) Get the right equipment

Feeling successful working at home means that you have exactly what you need to do your job. This means office supplies as basic as pens, staples, and paper clips to the more advanced supplies such as a scanner, printer, and computer. Investing in this type of equipment will pay for itself in a short time, because instead of having to run out to the nearest Kinko’s or library or friend to print out your paperwork (think gas money, everyone) you will have all of this equipment on hand. Plus, keeping these items well stocked and working properly will significantly reduce your stress levels.

2) With that said, have an on-hand IT department.

When the computer breaks down or the printer stops working while at the office, with one phone call we can give tech department a call and get working again. But when you are working from home, it isn’t too easy to get things working when your only support is the fix it yourself tool of Google searching the problem or scrambling to find the manual you probably tossed away years ago.

An alternative? Take the time to research local computer/tech support people. Many are willing to travel to your home, and even places such as GeekSquad have support at all hours of the day. Also, if you happen to use the same software over and over again, get the support hours and contact information for that program. Keep the information on hand for those who can help you, and don’t be afraid to call them. While we like to think we can fix it ourselves, these people are trained to help you and in less time, will get you working again.

3) Give yourself an office.

No, some of us don’t exactly have that third floor den that overlooks the ocean (come on, like you haven’t dreamed about that), but you can have a space to call your own, even if it’s the kitchen table. If you do happen have limited space, clean off the toys, books, newspapers, dishes and turn off the television. If it’s your bedroom, make the bed, put the dirty clothes away, and get your desk organized. Make this space, no matter how small, your working environment and allow it to look that way. When your eyes say it looks like work, your brain will follow.

4)  Dress for success, even at home.

No, if you aren’t leaving the house to see clients or future business partners on a certain day, it isn’t technically necessary to dress the part. Yet, if you are staying in pajamas or sweats, and you find yourself lagging on the amount of work that you thought you would do, there may be a reason behind it. So, set the clock for an early hour, and get up to take a shower, put on nice clothes (even jeans and a nice shirt is fine), brush your teeth, and do your hair and, ladies, put on a little makeup. This small extra step in the morning will do wonders for your mindframe and when you feel like a working professional, you will begin to work that way.

5) Tell your family, roommates, or dog your “office hours.”

This may be easier said than done, especially for anyone who has children to care for during the day. Take the necessary steps to let your family know when you are working. Even if you have just a pet living with you, treat this situation like you actually are at work (because you are!). Would you be able to go to the dog park in the middle of working at the office? Probably not. If you are giving yourself a set schedule of 10 am to 4 pm to work on projects or your home business, keep to your own hours. Also, ask those living with you to support your working hours.

Taking these simple steps can prepare you for working from home success. You may find that working from home isn’t exactly the cup of tea you thought it would be and that’s okay. But before you give up, take an assessment of what you might be doing wrong that inhibits your productivity. You can be successful at this, but it may just take a little bit more time and discipline than you thought.

Bio: Eric Thomas is Brand Manager for BrandMe, Australia’s premiere online supplier of promotional gifts.