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Tips for Working from Home
Whether you are self-employed and operate out of a home office or work from home a few days a month for a big company, you are part of a growing trend. But working from home can be more challenging than you think. Inc.com has some tips for making things work better for you:
Have a designated work space. It does not have to be large, but find a place where you can work away from distractions. Keep your files, computer, phone or whatever else you need in that space. And protect it. Don’t let your spouse use it to pay bills or stash groceries.
Get dressed. You don’t have to dress up as much as you would if you were going into the office, but don’t spend the day in your bathrobe or sweats. You will feel more focused and organized. Plus, if someone wants to video chat, you will be ready.
Use different kinds of communication. A video program like FaceTime or Skype can help you get your image in front of clients or co-workers. But sometimes a phone call or email is enough to get your message out. Use whatever form of communication is most appropriate to the situation.
Keep regular hours. One problem most people who work from home experience is that their work life spills over into the rest of their life. This is less likely to happen if you set your own quitting time. Sometimes you might have to work later, of course. But try to maintain a schedule.
Make a to-do list. Know what specific tasks you need or want to accomplish each day. Write them down. You can even cross them off when you complete them. But at the end of the day, you want to know that you got done what you set out to do.
Give yourself a break. When you worked in a “real” office, you got up, got a cup of coffee, took a walk, bought a candy bar. Do the same thing when you work from home. It helps keep you sharp – and awake.
Keep your family and friends at bay. Often people who work from home find that, in the minds of many people, they are not really working, so they can be interrupted whenever. Make it clear that this is not the case with you. Obviously if there is a real emergency, you need to deal with it. But because you work from home, you are not always available to pick up the dry cleaning or return those library books. You are working.
Don’t be a hermit. It isn’t good for your state of mind – or your business – for you to have no contact with clients, co-workers or other human beings. Have lunch with a client. Go into the office for the monthly meeting. Get out and meet people once in a while.
Get into a routine. This is especially helpful for things you do regularly, like checking email. For example, you might want to read emails while you have your morning coffee and make your to-do list. Then you can move into your more formal workday.
Give yourself some rewards. Working from home can be lonely. When you finish an important task, there is no one to tell about it. So reward yourself with a cup of coffee or five minutes of checking on your fantasy football team or whatever. Then go back to work on the next thing.