How to make sure that working from home is working for you

It is easy to just go with the flow when you are your own boss, but planning ahead is essential to being successful

PhotoLibrary - March 2011

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The other day, I was out with a group of friends when one of them said: "You're so lucky. You could work from anywhere around the world."

When the word entrepreneurship comes to mind, so would probably an image of a laptop with a pristine beach in the background.

While that’s true to some extent, it is not that easy.

Before quitting my job in the corporate world, I was eager to take control of my day-to-day activities and my vacation time, and I couldn’t wait to choose my “future office location”. It was like a dream coming true, and I couldn’t wait to embark on my journey.

While you may think that you will be very productive, and that you will have full control over your work life, you need to realise that it all boils down to your discipline and work ethic.

When you work in a corporate environment, you are used to punching in at 8am and leaving at 4pm. You are wired to work at certain hours, but when you are free and you are your own boss, you may be tempted to slack off.

One of the first challenges you will have to deal with is managing your time, and dividing your daily workload wisely.

If you want to be productive, then I suggest following these three tips.

From personal experience, applying them correctly will help you utilise your time wisely:

Plan your days ahead

I used to go with the flow, and follow whatever the day brought. But I was unfocused and unaccomplished. I then started to plan my day ahead, preferably from the night before. I would list the tasks I had to do and the people I needed to contact. Not only did doing so help me in completing my tasks, but I also achieved them efficiently.


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It helped me control my time, and I was able to complete the tasks quickly.

Because I wrote them down, marking the date and time, it helped me when I needed to look back and see when I contacted who, and who I needed to follow up with. Now, if you are digitally savvy, you could do that using your phone, or download the many organiser apps available out there. For me, I always preferred a good old pen and paper. Organisation is essential to your productivity and will help keep you sane.

Pencil in some me-time

With entrepreneurship you will often find that you will have some crazy weeks, and then some days when you only need to do one or two things.

As a person who is easily bored by routine, I find this to be very exciting, and it keeps me on my toes. The downside with entrepreneurship, however, is that months could pass by without taking a break, or you can find yourself working on weekends and into the hours of the night. As much as it may excite you, especially if you’re like me and don’t mind working on something you love, it is completely unhealthy. Be easy on yourself. Take a break. I’d suggest starting with weekends. Dedicate your weekends to unwinding and relaxing. Do something fun with family and friends.

Shut off your work phone and don’t check emails. Your brain needs to take a break in order to think clearly and come up with all the brilliant ideas. If your brain is tired it will hinder your productivity. Come up with a work schedule and a plan where your breaks are marked, and you can work around them. Be as strict about taking your breaks as you are with work.

Walk the talk

Finally, one of the best ways to stay productive is to follow up on your goals.

You can either partner up with a fellow entrepreneur who would hold you accountable, or you can do that with your spouse and friends.

Basically, you want someone who would help you achieve what you set out to do.

You can start with jotting down certain goals for every quarter of the year, and by the end of it meet up with that person and discuss what you have achieved, or why you didn’t achieve some of the goals.

Working from home is a blessing, but you need to keep in mind that achieving major goals is the result of putting in major effort.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi