Millions of Americans enjoy the comfort and convenience of working from home. Specifically, those who are self-employed, and those employees who work remotely for a company. Maybe you are one of them.
Self-employment has been my primary income generating activity for the last 15 years. Working from a home office has been a cost effective, convenient option for me too. Plus, no long commutes, no walks in bad weather, and no stress about packing lunch.
Naturally, I was enamored with being my own boss and making my own schedule. Of course, blindness made self-employment and home based work much more challenging for me. It took a few years to sharpen my skills and to learn how to be effective working from home.
Recently, a young man asked me, “As a blind person, how do you stay effective being self-employed and working from home?”
It was a fantastic question. Here I will share the highlights of my answer. If you are planning to begin home based work, I offer you these tips to help you prepare for your own endeavor:
Tips for Working at Home Effectively
Set Up a Workspace
Identify a location within your home. It should be relatively comfortable and quiet. You will be spending a lot of time there. What hardware and assistive equipment is needed to work effectively?
Consider desk size and placement. Is it a good fit for all other hardware or assistive devices you will use? Ask someone you trust to assist you with this process. At times I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of my own home office set up. Thankfully, friends and relatives lent their helping hands.
Set a Routine and Work It
Set a daily or weekly work schedule. Working from home allows flexibility, but do not sacrifice productivity. Work is a top priority, so learn time management skills to be effective and efficient.
Keeping track of time is easier with large number clocks, talking clocks, and smartphones. Use calendar and reminder apps to stay on track with tasks as well. This tactic helps me knockout tasks and meet deadlines.
Get Ready Before Work
The process for getting ready to work in an office should be the same process as getting ready to work in your home office. Get showered, get dressed, grab a bite to eat, or review news articles or social media posts before you sit down to begin work. Save articles you would like to read after you are off the clock.
Take a Break
Nothing is less appealing than being stuck to your desk all day long. Take breaks throughout the day. If possible, get up, move around, or do some stretching. Sitting all day long is tough on our bodies.
Log off your computer. Get away from your desk and take your lunch break. Eating at your desk everyday can make a big mess over time—not to mention the possible risks to your valuable hardware.
In fact, taking a walk with my guide dog after lunch refreshes me, and he loves it too.
When your work schedule is finished, treat it just like you would do working in an office. Go home. Organize your desk, turn off all your equipment, and leave the workspace. Avoid the temptation to put off work or to go back to your desk during the evening or late at night. It is easy to fall into this trap. I did so many, many times. But, if you are aware of the problem, you can plan to combat it.
Work and Life Balance
Schedule personal activities and household chores around a work schedule. Interrupting work to do some laundry or to checkout recent posts are productivity killers. I fell into this trap from time to time. Go for balance in this situation. If it is an urgent task, obviously take care of it. However, do your best to manage distractions during your scheduled work hours. If you suddenly think of a personal, to-do item, make a note or a voice memo to remind yourself later.
Working from home has tremendous personal benefits. Yet, this privilege comes with great responsibility. Your employer is trusting you to be productive. Your business success depends upon you. In either case, be mindful and educate yourself about working from home. It may take some trial and error, but if you develop good habits, you will be well on your way to working from home effectively.