What do you love about working from home? Working in your pajamas? Not having a boss over your head? Or being able to work flexible hours? Do you know what I love about working from home? Monday blues don’t affect me. While my husband struggles with the dreaded Oh-no-I’ve-to-go-to-work over his Monday morning cup of coffee, I’m still in bed snuggled under a warm blanket. Oh the bliss of being a telecommuter! But as every telecommuter knows, it’s easy to fall prey to laziness.
So how do you stay motivated and productive? I would love to hear from all of you how you do it. But in the meantime, here’s my two cents on making a work-from-home career really work for you.
1. Create a professional corner of your own.
I’ve converted one of our bigger closets in our house into my workspace area. It is nice and quiet and it gives me some privacy to work. Investing in a dedicated workspace with all the right systems in place is, I think, crucial to ensuring productivity. Pick a quiet place where you won’t get distracted by the activities in your house. It could be your garage or basement or even a corner of your house. Setting aside a place just for work keeps your family and professional life separate. Try to make it as comfortable and professional as possible. I bought a new ergonomic chair and installed new lights over my table.
A tip: Try not to make your bed your area of work. I know for so many, that just seems like the obvious choice! But it’s best to keep places designated for rest and intimacy separate from the place where you work. Some research on this suggests that combining the two may cause sleepless nights as the stress of work never leaves you as you try to sleep. Makes sense to me!
2. Set regular work hours.
I don’t know about you but I like to set up a schedule every day. I take into consideration my children when they come home from school and the times I have to drop them off for their extra activities. I find maintaining a daily schedule and sticking to it helps me to make the most of the day. For instance, I begin at 8 in the morning and stop by 4 p.m. It also lets me communicate with the team in my office.
3. Take breaks.
It’s easy to lose track of time especially when you’re all by yourself and immersed in work. Break at regular intervals, be it for lunch, coffee, or even a quick power nap (yes, isn’t that sheer luxury!!) and you’ll feel refreshed and recharged! Talk to a friend; go out for a little walk. It breaks the monotony of working alone.
4. Stay organized.
Clutter is a huge deterrent to productivity. Before I leave my workplace for the day, I throw away unwanted paper, empty the trash can, tidy up my desk so that when I come back to it the next morning, I come to an organized table. Buy files and folders to sort your papers, get a desk organizer or put up cabinets and shelves if you need that kind of stuff.
5. Don’t get tempted to do housework.
I know how it feels … the dishes need to be done, the laundry looks like it’s waiting just for you, the kitchen needs to be cleaned. That’s why I like to finish my morning chores BEFORE I start working. I usually do the laundry at night when my husband is around to help. But I think it’s important you don’t get up to load the dishwasher or fold the laundry while you’re working. We don’t realize how long it takes to get back into the work mode. So while they may look like harmless little get-aways, they will eat into your productivity. Resist the temptation to take up house errands during your set work hours.
6. Don’t schedule non-work appointments during work hours.
Elaborating further on the point above, carrying out personal activities during work hours will cause disruptions in your schedule. The salon, the library and the friend whom you can talk with endlessly, can all wait — do whatever is needed before and after work so it doesn’t impede productivity.
7. Meet up with coworkers.
If possible, meet your team once in a while. It’s fun to personally meet your coworkers with whom you usually only interact through phone calls and emails. It also gives you a chance to talk in length about the project you’re working on and exchange new ideas.
8. Interact socially.
Telecommuting can get lonely, so try to connect more with your near and dear ones. Holed up in a corner of the house for a major part of day can be mentally exhausting, so make it a point to meet and hang out with friends and family more often.
9. Stay active.
Exercise! I’ve had to curb snacking on the job. And with no exercise, I put on 5 pounds really easy. So unless you’re able to discipline time to exercise, go for a jog, sign up at your local gym, or join a zumba class, yoga, or play your favorite sport. All work and no play makes Jane, too, a dull little girl. And let’s not kid ourselves — housework isn’t exercise!
I abide by these rules not just while telecommuting. They proved immensely helpful even when I was training for medical transcription. I enrolled for online courses, so the tips above worked just right for me even when I was studying! Medical transcription is one career that allows you to study and work from home. Institutes such as CareerStep provide online courses in medical transcription which can turn into a full-fledged telecommuting career.
Of course, there are numerous other careers that let you work from home. Whatever your vocation, telecommuting requires loads of discipline. Being organized and establishing a steady routine will enhance your work-life balance and turn it into a constructive and fruitful experience!
Frida Cooper has been working as a career guidance counselor for about 12 years. She’s stayed on top of growing industry trends through market research and interaction with young students and working professional alike. Her hobbies include swimming, meditation and music. She believes that everyone can enjoy a lucrative career by paying close attention to their passions and aptitudes. Of late, Frida has been focused on researching work-from-home opportunities for stay-at-home moms or professionals who would like to supplement their income.
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