Working from home is becoming increasingly common in today’s work field. Everyone from computer technicians to sales managers is able to do at least some work from home, though possibly not their whole jobs. The problem comes in when managers start to see productivity slowing to a crawl. Below you will find a list of ways to avoid that before it happens.
Set Hours and Breaks
This is one of the keys to keeping your productivity in line, especially if you don’t have a set amount of work to accomplish each day. At an office, you have a time to arrive by, a time for lunch, and a time to leave. Often, you’ll include a break or two in there as well, when you can get up, stretch your legs, and give yourself a mental break. It is just as important to have these breaks scheduled when working from home as well.
Have a Space
Having an area as your office is helpful for getting you into “work mode.” This area, in order to be effective, should have a clear separation from the rest of your house. While some places are too small to have an actual office, it’s still possible for you to create separation between your work area and the rest of your home. A room divider is a great way to block off the distraction of how many dishes you have or how messy the living room has gotten. This helps to keep distractions to a minimum, at least until you reach a break time and can take a trip to the kitchen.
In addition to having that physical barrier, it also helps to have a personal barrier. For example – you may not want to allow your dog into your workspace, or your family or friends. Ask them not to call on you during work hours as well. You won’t be very productive if you’re running out to do errands three days a week.
Have Daily Goals
Pretend to be Santa Claus for a moment here and make a list – then check it. Your list probably shouldn’t be labeled “Naughty and Nice,” but the general idea is the same. It’s generally good practice to have a list of the biggest things you need to get done the next day, and set them to be accomplished in the morning. Since you already know what you’re going to do, you don’t waste time trying to figure out where you left off yesterday and what you need to get started on today. Once you’ve successfully accomplished your major projects for the day, you can relax and take the rest of the day to finish up your smaller, less demanding tasks.
Communicate with Co-Workers
One of the key problems telecommuters can run into is a feeling of isolation from their co-workers. By making an effort to keep yourself available during normal working hours, and reaching out to the office on a regular basis, you’ll feel less isolated. You may still miss out on some of the office gossip, but others will feel more comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns. That means you’ll be more likely to be able to fix problems faster and offer help when others need it – instead of suddenly finding yourself getting paid to play World of Warcraft for eight solid hours.
This might sound a little bit strange, but having an end to your work is just as important as having a beginning. Without an end to your workday, you can easily end up sacrificing your home life. Once you start to lose that separation between the two, you’ll find it very easy to burn out. That means you end up sacrificing more of yourself than you want to, and you end up very unhappy with your work-at-home position. Avoid that by getting, and sticking to, your off the clock time.
While it is wonderful to be able to work from anywhere, the problem is also that you can work from just about anywhere. You don’t want to end up feeling like you’re on call 24/7, nor do you want to feel like you aren’t contributing anything important to your team. A few simple steps can make all the difference in your position. After all, you already get to avoid the commute – don’t miss out on all the good things that come with working in an office too.
Image by Viktor Hanacek
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