Are you recreating work at home?

Recreating work at home. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

If you run your business from your home, you have no doubt read one of the numerous articles about how to most effectively work from a home-based office. I admit to reading more than a few myself. When you are trying to strike a balance between running your business effectively, while facing the many distractions which accompany working from a home office, you look for all the help you can get.

On the surface, these articles provide common sense advice. If you follow this advice, you will no doubt achieve greater effectiveness during your work day. However, all of this “common sense” advice yields one result: recreating work at home.

The comfort – and the failure – of a familiar structure

When my husband first started homeschooling our oldest son over ten years ago, we fell into a common trap: we tried to recreate the school environment at home. We didn’t go as far as some – I have read tales of homeschooling parents setting up a small-scale classroom, complete with chalkboard and a flag to start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance – but we started the school day promptly at 8am, we spent a set amount of time on each subject, and we even assigned homework.

It was an utter failure.

We made a common mistake: we adopted a familiar structure, because we thought that structure would result in success. Instead, that structure eliminated the possibility of embracing some of the best parts of homeschooling. The ability to work with our child’s natural learning patterns. Freedom to dive deeper into a subject of interest. Flexibility to spend longer on a subject that doesn’t come as easily.

The same can be said for recreating work at home. When you set yourself up with the same rigid rules you would follow if you reported to an office each day, you eliminate the possibility of embracing some of the best parts of working from home. That’s not to say all structure is bad, and some may thrive on a more structured work from home arrangement. But, if you’re an entrepreneur, my guess is some of the articles about how to effectively work from home leave you wondering why you would ignore all the great things about working from home. Why would you choose recreating work at home?

Billie Anne’s Top Five Tips to Avoid Recreating Work At Home

Though I started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping almost five years ago, I have worked from home for almost ten years. For most of that ten years, I was guilty of recreating work at home. I still am, to some extent, but I’m getting better. So, here are my top five tips to avoid recreating work at home:

  1. Work when it works for you. Some of us are early birds, and some of us are night owls. Some of us switch back and forth between the two, depending on the season. Give up the notion that you have to work from 9am to 5pm, and work when working works for you.
  2. Get comfortable. The “get dressed” tip for working from home really annoys me. Probably because most days I wake up, shower, and then throw on a pair of pajama bottoms and whatever QuickBooks or app t-shirt is at the top of my t-shirt drawer. I haven’t noticed a lag in productivity due to not being “dressed” every day. If anything, I am more productive because I am comfortable.
  3. Do housework during the day. It’s totally okay to throw a load of laundry in the washer during your work day. In fact, small, timed chores – like laundry – encourage you to take frequent short rest breaks, which you should do while working on the computer, anyway.
  4. Go ahead and answer that personal phone call. Life is short, and people are important. If your mom calls, pick up the phone. I can promise you won’t regret it later.
  5. Enjoy your weekends…by working. I’m not saying you should work all weekend every weekend, and if you do, maybe you should work on your delegation skills. But I have found I am often much more productive on the weekend than I am during the regular work week, and my family is typically okay with me working on a Saturday or a Sunday because I have leveraged my flexible schedule during the “work week.”

Your results may vary

If you find more structure in your day really does help you be more productive, there is nothing wrong with following the usual advice for working from home. If, however, you have been “following the rules” and wondering what is so great about working from home, try mixing things up a little. You may find you enjoy work more when you stop recreating work at home.

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