Since many ecommerce entrepreneurs don't have a traditional office, we've been publishing a series of blog posts on how to work best from home. The first article gave five strategies to boost productivity in your home office. Then we showed you how set up a comfortable and effective workspace.
Today, we're going to tell you five of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when working from home, along with some easy-to-adopt tips that will stop you from falling into these sticky traps.
1. Failing to Set Boundaries
There are always dishes, cleaning, and cooking to be done around the home. It can be tempting to take a quick break to handle those chores or spend a few moments with your kids, or watching TV, but you need to avoid these distractions as much as possible. But while you’re making an unnecessary sandwich and tweeting about it, your competitors are stealing a march on you and boosting their business at your expense.
Making a sandwich is one thing, but it's increasingly difficult to resist family distractions. You need to set up boundaries. Set up a proverbial fence while you're working, be that a locked door, "family hours," or even a fancy backyard office
. Your family needs to remember that although you’re at home all day, you can’t be called upon to play a game or run for groceries. Remind them in a gentle, kind way that you are working and should not be disturbed unless you’re taking a break or there’s an emergency.
2. Working in Pajamas
Sure they're comfortable, but walking around in polka dot PJ's or pink bunny slippers (edit: unless they are these bunny slippers
- see comments) can cause more harm than good. Now that's not to say you shouldn't dress comfortably, but it's important to draw the line between relax time and work time. When you're wearing pajamas (or something similar) you never really leave relaxation mode. If you always feel like you're in bed, chances are you're acting like it as well - even if it's at a subconscious level.
When you get up in the morning, change into something professional. Leave relax mode physically and your mind will follow. Once you're dressed, find a way to get in the zone, and that can be different for everybody - maybe it's coffee, yoga, meditation, a gruelling workout, or even 20 minutes of playing video games. You'll find your concentration will strengthen, productivity will rise and you'll even find that your confidence level has increased.
3. Working Irregular Hours
Generally, it's not a good idea to be sleeping while your customers are shopping. You want to be working when the majority of your customers and partners are working. In the world of ecommerce where you can make sales while you're in bed sleeping it can be tempting to work wherever and whenever you want. This is okay sometimes, but it's best not to get in the habit of working irregular hours.
If you handle sales, support, and marketing you should be able to react to emails, calls, and tweets as quick as possible. Try to get yourself into some type of routine, and you'll find yourself more productive throughout the day. Now I know this isn't for everyone, because one of the greatest perks of working from home is choosing your hours, so don't be too strict with your schedule. Keep things flexible, but still give yourself guidelines on when you should start work every day, when you should have lunch, and when you should call it quits.
4. Always Working From Home
Staying in the same spot for hours on end is bad. Staying inside for days on end is worse. You need to step outside once in a while, get some fresh air, and absorb some of that beautiful sunlight. Or at least give yourself a change of atmosphere by working from a local coffeehouse, the library, or a coworking environment.
Every day make an effort to get outdoors. Instead of eating lunch in your kitchen every day, try bringing a brown bag to a local park, or even meeting up with a friend for a bite to eat - as social interaction is very important as well. You should also consider joining a professional association for your industry. In addition to building contacts, it's healthy to have the odd meeting or social gathering to attend after work hours. We have work from home jobs
at Shopify and we encourage all these things.
5. Not Staying Organized
Just because your house is messy, doesn't mean you're allowed to keep your home workspace disorganized. For most people, having a cluttered work environment causes stress and impedes productivity.
One of the biggest causes of clutter is often post-it notes with daily tasks and to-do lists, scattered about. Eliminate this mess of paper by putting all of your ideas in one, trackable place: The 10x Journal for Entrepreneurs