For 10 years I worked in an office setting, and then for 3 more as a teacher in a classroom. Imagine my excitement when I got my Real Estate license and could finally work from home! I had this vision of having snacks ready for my oldest daughter when she walked in the door from school, and watching the baby play on the floor while I studiously worked on my laptop and juggled phone calls. I daydreamed of a clean house because I would be able to take part of my lunch time and tidy up or pop a load of laundry into the wash and not have to do it all in the evenings or on the weekends. I purchased gourmet cookbooks so I could make divine family meals every night during the time I saved by not commuting to a 9-to-5 job. Boy oh boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
Working from home is theoretically wonderful, but it can present a unique set of challenges. If you're one of us Type A personalities (and if you're a Realtor, you're probably a Type A), then you may find yourself suddenly working waaaay more than you were before AND trying to get more done around the house. If you're the less than self-motivated type, then perhaps the amazing line up of daytime television shows available can be the siren song keeping you from being as productive as you were in an office. If you're like me - a Type A perfectionist who has occasional lazy moments - then you have to worry about all of the above.
To add to the twist, my husband also works from home. He often has to be out more than I do, but for about 3 of 5 work days we have had to learn how to both work from home. We have completely different styles for this but somehow we make it work. We are opposites - he and I have different approaches, and you will have your own formula as well. But for whatever it's worth, here's what works for me!
- Keep a regular schedule. Start and stop working at about the same time every day. Take a lunch break.
- Take Vacations. Do not give in to the temptation to work 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. You WILL burn out.
- Set the stage. Have a work space set aside where all you do is work (and pay bills, and perhaps a few other minor administrative chores). Don't try to work in front of the TV or in your bedroom.
- Timeshare. If you do have a brokerage office or cubicle, think about splitting your work week between home and office. Some things are just easier to do from an office setting.
- Prioritize. If you worked a 9-to-5 you would sometimes leave at the end of the day with items remaining on your to-do list. Set priorities and do the high-need items earlier in the day.
- Schedule housework. My Outlook task list has both professional and personal items on it. I schedule my house chores - sweep & vacuum Mondays, take out trash on Tuesdays, and do 3 loads of laundry every other day for example - and this way I can keep up with it and won't be tempted to ditch work and clean house. Right now I know my kitchen floor is GROSS, but it's Monday and I know it will get swept when I shut down my laptop for the day.
- Have an escape route. On days that I just can't concentrate in the house or I need to meet with a client, I escape to a local coffee shop with Wi-Fi. This forces me to adhere to the previous rules, gives me a relaxed yet semi-professional setting in which to meet with someone, and four walls other than my own to look at.
- Get a babysitter. If you have kids, don't try to work full (or even part) time from home AND keep little ones happy and safe. Hire a babysitter to come in or take them to someone else. If they're in school all day, count your blessings - HA!
There of course are many more tips out there, but these are the ones that work for me. Hopefully some of them will work for you if you're not used to working from home! Please comment and share any other tips you may have about working from home ... I can always use more. And I will share them with my husband.