How To Make It As Great As It Sounds
More than 13 Million people currently work from home in the U.S according to the Census Bureau. Since 2005 the number of people choosing to make home their corporate headquarters has increased by more than 70%. Sure it saves us the commute time, and anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 a year in commuting expenses according to one study, but there are some pitfalls to avoid when having the flexibility to work from home. Here are some working from home recommendations to make it as great as it sounds:
Create A Specific Space
You may not need an actual office with a door when working from home, but you do need some type of space that is clearly defined as the place where you work. This allows you to stay more focused, organized and it keeps others aware that when you are in that space you should not be disturbed.
Make A Checklist
I am big on lists! It helps me keep track of what things I need to get done each day. You can keep the list in your “workspace” or if you are like me on sticky notes around my desk or on my laptop (that way they go with me everywhere). A checklist can not only help you stay on track, be more productive in your day but it also feels great to check off all those tasks at the end of the day. (Sigh)
I know it sounds easy enough but when you work from home there will be distractions. Whether it’s your dog barking, or the mailman stopping by, or both, it’s sometimes better to address such distractions so that you can get back to work after. One study shows only 2% of people who multitask do so effectively. Yikes! Focusing on more than one thing at a time also lowers your productivity by 40% according to Harvard Business Review.
Log Your Time
Keeping track of the time you spend working is the best way to ensure you are making THE MOST out of that time. It also gives you a better idea of what your work/life balance may be. Many employers use time-tracking software but if yours does not you can keep track yourself via a journal, or a spreadsheet. It could also help you set more realistic goals for certain projects.
Take A Break
One of the most important working from home recommendations is when you feel stuck or start to lose concentration take a short break. Go outside, walk around the neighborhood, play with the dog, check the mail, change the scenery and do anything that will get your mind off work for a couple of minutes. Experts recommend working in 90-minute intervals. The idea behind this work rhythm is that your brain is more likely to stay focused on what you are doing if you know that a break is coming. A few years ago the pomodoro method became all the rage. Now some folks think that just getting up and walking a bit could extend your life!
It’s a great way to show your colleagues, clients, and supervisors that although you may not physically be at work, that you are working. It’s a give and take when you work from home. You get the benefit of comfort and convenience but there is also the expectation that you will be available when you are needed.
Food For Thought
A healthy meal does wonders for your bod and your brain. When you are working form home it’s very easy to either graze all day or forget to eat at all. Have a healthy balance that will allow you to keep up your energy levels so you can get the most out of your day. It helps if you follow the same breakfast/snack/lunch schedule you may have had at the office. Another tip is not to eat while in your workspace, when multitasking includes eating you are most likely to overeat.
Be Smart with Your Phone
Your phone is a powerful tool for getting things done. Between productivity apps, to-do lists, your calendar, email, text, the browser and mobile VoiP calling apps, you can get a lot of your job done, no matter where you are. I recommend setting up separate alerts and notifications for anything that is work related. That way, you’ll know quickly when it is a call that you have to take or respond to an email immediately. Just like how Google has created the priority inbox in GMail, you need to prioritize your notifications and who you respond to first.
As great as working from home is it could also get a little boring, and a little too quiet (for my taste) I need to have interaction with people, and it’s why I like going to the office at least once a week. Showing up to the office every once in a while ensures that you remain visible and reminds people that you are part of the team. You especially want to make an appearance, for example, when new people are hired or added to your team, or if there is complicated information that needs to be explained/understood, and when there are any celebrations, conventions or team-building activities in the office. The latter is a perfect opportunity to build relationships with your co-workers which is important if you are all working toward the same goal.
What did I miss? What works best for you when working from home? Tell us in the comments box below.