This is a video from a Udemy course I created a few years ago to help people maximize their efficiency while working from remotely or from home. Instead of selling it as a paid course, I’m sharing the content here, for free. I hope you find it helpful. -Ron Stauffer
Working from home is still work. It should still be treated with just as much seriousness as if you were going to an office, whether you work for an employer or you’re self employed. In my opinion, you should try to make a schedule that’s somewhat rigid and consistent, also clock in and clock out. I track all of my time when I’m working during normal business hours, because I want to be able to look back for my own profitability sake.
I want to be able to look back six months a year, three years from now and say, how was I spending my time? Was I spending it efficiently? So there’s no boss cracking the whip over my head saying you’re not getting paid unless you clock in. That’s just something I’ve decided for me that I need to do in order for me to be able to look back at the end of my week and say, how did I do, did I do well?
Did I focus on the projects that I wanted to focus on? Same thing with people who have an employer, just because you’re outside of the office doesn’t mean necessarily that you don’t have to clock in. You should still respect that start time and that stop time, whatever your situation is, decide or determine what the rules are and try to stick to those.
There are some other ways that your business and personal life can kind of start to creep together in a way that you want to be careful about things like purchases. If you’re making business purchases using your family’s finances or your family purchases using your business account or things like that.
If you are given an allowance for company. Ink or printer paper or something like that, make sure that you’re respecting the fact that what the company is providing for you is only used for business and not used for your family. And that’s important to communicate to your family and to keep track of for yourself.
In my case, for example, it’s not a legal issue, but I, for a couple months, when I started working from home, I would buy these big reams of paper. And by the end of the month they were gone and I thought, well, golly, why do I have to keep buying so much paper? It turns out my kids kept coming into my office when I wasn’t there and taking paper to draw on.
That’s not a huge deal, but it was something I wasn’t aware of. So I had to set the guideline and say, Whoa, you need paper. I’ll buy you your own paper. This is the office paper. So just be aware of who’s paying for what that’s a pretty important consideration. I have a very strict rule, which is that my work computer is never, ever to be used by kids under any circumstance.
If they have homework that needs to be done and someone else is using the family computer that’s too bad. My kids are not using my work computer for homework. I used to be an it support professional many, many years ago. And let me tell you the number of times I found. Junk and malware and viruses on people’s computers was shocking to me.
I would see CEOs who had milkshakes spilled under their keyboards because while I let my daughter finish her final paper for eighth grade on it, Please don’t do that. Make sure that your kids know that the things in your office are off limits. That includes your technology, like your phone, your iPad, your laptop, whatever it is, treat your business equipment with seriousness and don’t blur those lines.
My business equipment, like my laptop, those things are totally off limits to my kids. And that’s a rule that I have never broken, and I’ve never regretted. If you have family or roommates or housemates. And you’re working from home. There’s also a tendency that you gotta be careful about where people might presume that because you’re at home, then that means you’re available to help with things.
Just because you’re working from home does not mean you’re available to walk the dog. Or take kids to the doctor’s office for a doctor’s appointment, or to go get an oil change for the van or whatever it is. And again, when you’re setting boundaries, it’s important to make sure that people know I’m here at home, but I’m not available to, to do these kinds of things.
And don’t include me and just assume that I can do it just because I’m here. Now having said that there is a certain amount of leeway that you can give people. So for example, if my wife sets up an appointment for a plumber to come to the house, and then she leaves, she can basically just let me know, Hey Ron, a plumber’s coming sometime between noon and five.
Can you be there and open the door for him when he gets there? Yeah, sure. Why not? As long as he rings the doorbell and I know that he’s there, that’s a wonderful benefit of working from home. But if you start to get too much into, you know, the landscapers are coming, can you show them what needs to be done with the landscaping?
You know, and then you’re taking 20 minutes here and 30 minutes here and an hour here that can eat into your Workday. And that can not only kill your productivity, but it can cause an ethical problem if. Somebody else, like your employer is paying you to be working for a certain number of hours each day.
And it’s easy for your family members to not see how important that is, and to start to chip away at the number of hours that you have available for your employer. So just be aware of that.
Ron Stauffer is a solopreneur and freelancer with over 14 years of experience running a small company. He’s extremely familiar with the loneliness, frustration, and challenges unique to freelance work and running a business of one. He started Free Soloing to help other people just like him.