It is becoming more and more common for insurance agents to work from home. There are many benefits—no frustrating commutes, no money spent to rent an office space and no need to dodge any gossiping coworkers.
You’ll also have no rules and no structure, which can be disorienting, especially for those working from home for the first time. How should you begin? Here are some tips for creating a work-from-home life that is productive and successful.
Yes, seriously. You don’t need to choose a suit and tie or dress and boots, but putting on something other than pajamas or sweats helps signal to your brain that your workday is about to begin. Take a shower, sip some coffee and choose an outfit that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen wearing in public.
Invest in Creating a Comfortable Workspace
Whether you have a dedicated office or just an area within another room that you use as your main workspace, make it comfortable and functional. Pay the extra $100 for a high-quality office chair—you’re going to be using it a lot. Invest in a desk that converts to standing to give your body a break from constant sitting. If possible, set up your workspace near a window; a view of the outdoors will help make you aware of the passage of time. This can be especially important if you have a habit of either procrastinating or overworking.
Have a dog that likes attention? Put her in the other room for a few hours. Can’t stop thinking of the projects that need to be done around the house? Make a list and set it aside. Turn off the TV, refrain from opening websites that don’t pertain to work and shut the door to the laundry room.
Everyone has different distraction triggers. Some are visual, some are auditory and many are generated by our own thoughts. What are yours, and how can you minimize them? You may want to repaint your space a calming color or get a white-noise machine to block outside interruptions. If the internet is your Achilles heel, try rewarding yourself with 15 minutes of browsing after each hour of work. Acknowledge when you are most likely to be distracted and think creatively about how to mitigate those times.
Develop a Routine
The first activity you choose to do every day should be something that gets you into the right mindset to sell insurance. How are sales going this month? A big-picture review of your long-term goals may be just the thing you need to get revved up. Perhaps you like the feeling having your ducks in a row. Clearing your inbox may be a good start to your day. Or it could be that making sales calls first thing gets your blood pumping.
Whatever it is, develop a routine and create a daily, weekly or monthly schedule to give yourself direction. As you create the plan, be realistic about how much actual work you will be able to do in a day. Unlike in an office setting, where the average worker spends several hours socializing and attending meetings, you may max out at six solid hours of work per day. (A break in the middle will help you stay productive.)
Set Daily Goals
This can be quick. Take a minute to prioritize what needs to be done, then fill in this sentence with three specific tasks: I would feel good at the end of the day if I were able to BLANK, BLANK and BLANK. Then start doing those tasks. This will set a direction for your day and help make sure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.
Be Clear about Your Working Hours
The beauty of working from home is that you can choose to work when it suits your life. Are you a night owl? You can do paperwork at midnight if you want. If you’re an early riser, you don’t need to wait for the office to open at 8:00 a.m. Just be sure that you aren’t falling into those habits because you haven’t established clear working hours.
Overworking is a danger for many go-getters, as it can seem like proof of your diligence. But putting in a lot of hours doesn’t necessarily translate into success. The pressure of a scheduled deadline can be very effective in pushing you to wrap up work that might otherwise never be finished. Establish your hours and stick to them unless there’s a good reason to close up early or stay late.
Having the ability to work from home is a luxury that many envy, and it’s one of the perks of working in a field like insurance sales. By creating the right environment and structure for work-from-home success, it’s a lifestyle that you may be able to continue through your entire career.