Work from Home, and Still Be Productive!

Admit it, the idea of working from home is attractive. Just think of it: you roll out of bed, walk to your study (or kitchen table), and there you are.

No more long commutes, no dressing up, and you won't have to pick up lunch for your boss or stick Holiday address labels on her personal Christmas cards anymore!

No longer will you be required to admire the "adorable" pictures of your co-workers kids. In fact, no one's there to care if your kids are sitting on the floor beside you using rubber stamps to make pictures for your new office.

You can work and take care of your kids at the same time. Think of the money you'll save! Think how relaxed you'll be!

But be careful! What you'll find yourself thinking of is the allure of surfing the Internet and the fact that the refrigerator is right there whenever you crave a snack.

Or what about that pile of laundry and starting dinner early? But there are ways to make working from home at least as productive as working in the office, and we're here to show you a few.

Here's the plan…

The key to remaining productive is to retain your professional mindset. You're a professional, whether your business is sewing smocks or picking stocks.

First, set aside a space that's completely dedicated to your work. This doesn't mean you can't be flexible when necessary, but it's best to have a room or nook that's used for nothing but your business: a place where you can keep your computer, paperclips, files, return address labels, collection of Metallica CDs, whatever.

Not only does this help keep you focused, you can write it off your taxes come April.

Second, try to work within pre-set hours. Pick your eight hours, whether they're 9-5 or 6-2, and stick to them. (You may find that it's best to stick to a standard workday because you need to interact with people still chained to the office lifestyle.)

Take breaks the same way you would at work, including your lunch. Don't let yourself be overcome by the temptation to run errands any old time, or your productivity will go down the toilet! And while you don't want to cut yourself off entirely from your family (assuming you have one), do your best to train them to interact with you only when you're on break.

During work-hours, your workspace should be as sacrosanct as possible. How else will you ever get anything done?

It goes without saying that watching TV, even if your favorite soap is on, is a no-no. The telephone is another productivity destroyer. Screen your calls and let anything that isn't immediately important wait until you take a break.

Assuming you use a computer, your work communications can be carried out over email. And do try to control your tendency to read web comics and check out eBay during your official work hours.

And what if I don't?

All the things we've outlined here are just suggestions, and may not work for you. Some of us are more productive in an unstructured environment in which we can stretch out our workday across 12 or more hours, with projects interspersed with friendly chat, Internet surfing, and the occasional round of hoops with the kids. (This works better if you and your boss are the same person).

Some of us are productive only in a regimented environment where every jot and tittle is tightly controlled, and everything organized by the minute. Only you can know where you fall along the continuum between these two extremes. The point is, working at home and productivity aren't mutually exclusive, no matter what some bosses might think.

Published with permission (FCDMInc)

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