How to Maximize Your Work at Home Experience

With technology branching out into all aspects of the workforce, it’s no wonder that many people are opting to work at home. There are seemingly limitless reasons why working at home is favorable over commuting in to an office. For one thing, commutes themselves can be a chore. With gas prices rising through the roof, any measure of savings is surely welcome. In addition to eliminating the need to travel, setting up a home-based office can allow for certain freedoms that a typical office environment does not. Outside of being able to send faxes in your favorite Snoopy pajamas, working from home can prove to be quite the cozy option.

However, there are many drawbacks to setting up this type of working atmosphere. The lack of social interaction, lack of discipline, and potential for distractions, represent some of the pitfalls of working from home. With this in mind, there are many things that you can do to take full advantage of the experience.

1- CONSIDER YOUR SPACE

If possible, try to carve out a separate working niche somewhere in your house that is independent of high traffic areas. It’s best to avoid bedrooms and family rooms, as there is the ultimate chance of being distracted. If you can, use a spare bedroom as a home office. Or, if you must work from the bedroom, consider creating a divider. This can be done by purchasing a decorative “screen”, or by draping fabric from the walls or ceiling to create a “boundary”. The purpose is to establish a mental barrier between your work life, and your home life.

2- HANDS OFF�

Assuming that the computer you will be working on is one of many, set some boundaries regarding its use. There may be sensitive documents and confidential information that you might not want getting into the wrong hands. In addition, other family members’ use of the computer may inadvertently expose the machine to viruses which will damage, if not destroy your files. It’s best to eliminate this potentially “deadly” occurrence by limiting the use to yourself only.

3- PHONES, PHONES�

No matter what kind of internet connection you have, it’s imperative that you have a way to be contacted in case of a “work” emergency. Therefore, you might want to consider obtaining a cell phone so that colleagues can reach you right away. As with the computer, limit the use to “Business Only”. Not only should this be done for expense or tax purposes. But when this particular cell phone rings, you’ll know that it is related to work and not a request from a child or spouse. What’s more, should you need to leave your workspace at any time during the day, you’ll want a way to stay connected with colleagues in case they need something.

4- SCHEDULING

Working from home can be especially challenging because of distraction, or simply a lack of discipline. It’s extremely tempting to take frequent breaks when there is no one around to reprimand you. While there is nothing wrong with taking a breather to refresh yourself, it’s essential that you create some sort of schedule to keep you on track. Unless your job dictates, there is no reason why you should begin working at 9am on the dot. But if you decide to start working later in the day, make sure that your workday can accommodate everything that needs to be done. It’s beneficial to set a schedule for yourself to follow each day, so that you establish some sort of routine for getting things accomplished. Mini-siestas should definitely be taken during the day. But setting a schedule for breaks as well, will prevent you from doing three loads of laundry and watching the soaps-when you should actually be working.

5- DRESS UP OR DRESS DOWN?

Operating a home office can be a lot of fun. One of the main things that make working from home inviting is the absence of a dress code. Rolling right out of bed and into your workspace can save a bundle of time that you’d normally spend getting ready for a long commute. But sometimes, attire can have an effect on your mood-thus, affecting the quality of your work. There is nothing wrong with planning mergers and acquisitions in your Snoopy PJ’s. But a fresh change of clothes can help you start your day properly. Try doing everything that you would normally do to get ready in the morning if you were going into the office. Shower; have breakfast; put on comfortable clothes. But make sure that you “feel” as if you’re at work, and not simply lounging all day.

6- SOAPS OR NO SOAPS?

Home offices afford ultimate privacy. It’s very easy to abuse the comforts of home while attempting to get work done. Some working people may even have children at home while they’re working. If this is the case, it’s time to ascertain some rules. Make sure that the children have everything they need for a couple of hours (provided they are old enough to mind themselves). Let them know that you are working and are not to be disturbed. On the other hand, you may have the urge to watch all your favorite television programs. Try not to. As a matter of fact, if there are programs that you just do not want to miss, tape them instead-or coordinate breaks around the times that the programs are on. It’s important not to lose focus while working. If you were not allowed to watch TV at the office, then you should try to follow that same rule at home.

7- ENJOY YOURSELF

Suffice it to say, work is work-no matter whether you perform at home or in a 20-story high rise building. It’s important that you enjoy each and every work day. If you must, take short frequent breaks to sever the monotony of seeing the same walls day in and day out. Since your job is where you live, it’s very easy to get a bit stir crazy. If you can, leave the house and sit outside. Have lunch in a neighborhood cafÃ?© or restaurant. Or run an errand. Do things that will help you to refresh yourself while staying connected to the world. Many people who work from home complain that they get bored or lonely; this in turn, makes them less productive. If you can avoid this by planning your workdays accordingly-working from home can be a very lucrative and rewarding experience.

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