Ask the experts: Set up a routine when running a business from home

The perks of running a business from home – comfort, no traffic and fewer interruptions, among them – abound, but so do the pitfalls.

Armed with a set routine and some self-discipline, a person can be productive and happy working from home, said Sabine Schuerger, who runs The Admin Link, a Raleigh-based consulting business focusing on administration in small-business environments.

Tempting as it may be, the office dress code should not include pajamas. Getting dressed for work is important for a professional mindset.

“You can get stuck in a rut,” Schuerger said. “You sound more professional over the phone because you’re not in your jammies.”

Having a room, or at least a part of one, dedicated as your work space is also crucial, she said. Make it functional, and decorate it to make it a pleasing space where you can spend a couple of hours without any interruptions.

Family members must know when blocks of uninterrupted time are needed, Schuerger said. Having young children around can be a big challenge, so having childcare help might be necessary.

“You have to have the freedom of getting done whatever you need to do,” Schuerger said.

People also must move around a little. With fewer distractions than in a regular office, a person can easily spend four hours glued to his or her chair. Set pop-up reminders on your screen or set an alarm.

The biggest obstacle for many people is a feeling of isolation.

To cope with this, people could meet co-workers, family, clients or friends for lunch or take their laptop to a coffee shop.

Schuerager also recommends taking a break at a library, book store or coffee shop to do some educational reading, something that can boost creativity. Also, make it a point to network with clients, prospective clients or co-workers at least once a week.

Managers or owners working from home should set weekly meetings with employees, even through phone calls or Skype.

“You have to have discipline to make it work,” Schuerger said. “I think once you get into a routine, it’s a lot easier to have that life-work balance.”

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