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6 Productivity Tips Working from Home

| August 10, 2009 | 21 Comments

dual-monitor1. Stay at home!
Working at home (or in your dorm room) is probably one of the best ways to get a ‘bootstrapped’ business up and running. Even with building and land prices as low as they are rent (or a loan payment) for even the smallest office can run anywhere from $350 to $1200 a month! Not to mention the additional insurance, equipment, furniture, utilities, etc. Service based business can easily be run from the home if you can find a good meeting place. If you need a storefront you can still free yourself and your time by trying to mobilize your work. Check out the The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss on this subject.

2. Get your girlfriend a good book to read and shut down World of Warcraft.
Although having the girlfriend around is great, it is important to reduce the amount of distractions. Distractions at home can be even more overbearing than those at the workplace. Make sure that you aren’t playing video games or spending too much time on Facebook during your work-time. If you are living in a dorm-room make sure that your friends and roommates understand when you are working so they don’t host a beer pong tournament during your conference call.

3. Take advantage of working your own schedule.
One great thing about being a work-at-home entrepreneur is that it gives you complete flexibility of time. Take vacations whenever you want or skip work on a Monday. In order to allow for this flexibility you have to be able to make up the work during atypical working hours. Sometimes your most productive work can be at 11PM on a Tuesday night because your clients won’t be calling and emailing you. I personally use the Task list on Outlook to manage the days tasks; this helps tremendously. Despite many people’s opinions on Outlook being a distraction, it can be a great tool if it is used properly.

4. Stream internet radio.
If you can’t work while listening to music then skip this tip. Don’t waste time pulling up iTunes every 4 minutes and 13 seconds to select a new Lady Gaga song. Instead, take advantage of internet radio websites likes Pandora or my personal favorite ShoutCast.

5. Keep organized.
Head to WalMart and invest some money in a filing cabinet, hanging folders, and file folders. Keep your work papers separate from your Physics exams. Use a separate email account for work and for school/personal.

6. Get dual monitors.
With websites like NewEgg.com selling 22” LCD screens for prices as low as $150, invest in a secondary monitor. It can really help increase productivity if you have lots of browsing or emailing going on. Also, invest a few dollars in the program UltraMon so you can get better taskbar management features in Microsoft Windows. On a side note, Ultramon lets you pick separate wallpapers for each display so you can instantly double the amount of wallpaper babes!

Zach Ferres is a full-time student at Ohio Northern University and a passionate young entrepreneur. He is also the owner of Bouncehost IT Solutions, an information technology and comprehensive web development company based in Bellevue, Ohio. Zach is also an active triathlete, collegiate cross-country runner, and weight-trainer. For more information about speaking engagements, coaching, or general questions/comments please visit www.zachferres.com.

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  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Great tips Zach. The best part is taking advantage of your own schedule. I love the fact that I can go out on a Tuesday night if I want. Doing stuff on your own time is a great feeling and makes you much more productive.

  • http://www.MissingLinkProjectCenter.com/ Kevin Moore

    Hi,

    Even though I'm not under 30, I'll still look at your tips, they seem like great additions to any home office.

    Keep up the great work.

    Kevin

  • zcferres

    Hey guys, thanks for the comments and the tweets! Does anyone else have some good tips in addition? This was just a quick list I came up with.

  • mrswhich

    I guess this is assuming a male or lesbian audience…but that aside, probably useful for the first-time-at-homer, and for students who need to study.

    When it comes to building a business, I'd like to take #2 and suggest that maybe it's not as much about getting the romantic partner in your life out of the way, as getting them engaged in what you're doing. It may surprise you how much talking about your ideas with your partner can spark, even if they are not technically in your field. And if they're not interested in your passion – well, that's something to think about.

  • Threedot

    Great stuff Zach, and thanks to Jared and Matt for inviting Zach to post :) Keep the great content coming guys!

  • http://www.zachferres.com zcferres

    I apologize for the male bias in this post. I will watch this a bit carefully to be sure that we encompass the lady entrepreneurs as well!

    I completely agree with your comment on getting your partner involved in what you are doing. This can very easily spark some synergistic results. As an entrepreneur it seems that I spend a lot of time thinking about the business. I catch myself bringing up business talk even at dinner with the significant other. I do believe that you are 100% correct in your statement and maybe the relationship stuff should be in a separate category from that of time-management.

  • mrswhich

    Hey, thanks for responding! I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek giving you a hard time for the male bias, but it is good to keep in mind, especially as your business moves forward. It can creep into the startup culture where there are two or three guys together – I joined one startup as the only female in an office with 6 guys, and it was much more uncomfortable for all of us than any of us were expecting. Good luck!

  • mattbrown

    Really enjoyed the tips, very insightful! Looking forward to more writings Zach -

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Kevin, thanks for your comments! We want to be sure everyone knows, it's about the mindset of being Under30 not necessarily about your age as a number. Some of our biggest fans are 30+!

    Hope we can get to know more about you soon

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Interesting thoughts here. In what ways was being the only female in the office awkward? Were they just unaware that there was a female around and talk like they were in a men's locker room? Or simply always speak from a male point of view (as the nature of this post was)?

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  • mrswhich

    Thanks for asking! There were a few more visible things, like girlie screen savers/backgrounds on computers, and more swearing, but that didn't really phase me. What was harder was when they were more careful around me. Like, they would be talking and laughing about something, and I'd come along and they got all quiet and respectful. Or someone would swear in a meeting and then apologize to me, like I'm more likely to be offended than anyone else. There was really no way for them to win, though, because if they started talking about a girlfriend in an objectifying way, for example, I WOULD feel uncomfortable. I think when there is a more equal balance, people behave more professionally because it's more neutral, but in this case the culture was so male that it was hard for them (and for me) to strike the right chord.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Thank you for the response… I think it comes down to common courtesy and respect. I've been in situations where there's been a lot of masculinity in the room and I had to ask everyone to tone it down. Basically, swearing, talking about females anatomy, etc…

    Sometimes overpowering personalities, whether they are male or female make other people uncomfortable–and there is no place for that in the workplace.

  • mrswhich

    Nicely said, and hope some of your readers think about starting that way from the beginning. There are still more men in tech and entrepreneurship, so it's easy to have your first 1-20 employees possibly be all male, maybe even all similar ages and even race. No one can assume that because someone is male they are comfortable with locker room banter in the workplace, but maybe some guys don't say anything out of camaraderie?

  • http://www.zachferres.com zcferres

    Yet again, great points. I completely agree with Matt in saying that it does come down to respect. If an employee of mine (male or female) asked me to tone it down or change an offensive wallpaper I would have absolutely no problem in doing so. We do not have any women working for us but we do have strategic alliances and subcontracting firms that are women (ages 21 to 55). Now that I really think about it, I completely agree that I do behave/speak differently around almost all of them.

    One thing to note though is that I don't think it is gender that is the driving element here, I believe that personality/morals/beliefs play a much larger role. For example, I don't think we would be dropping 'f-bombs' in front of an elderly gentleman or a priest.

    I feel you could also expand this to include clients as well as employees if you are in sales.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    As a male, you get the feeling for who likes to joke around and have the typical hyper masculine camaraderie and who isn't comfortable with it.

    The bottom line is treating everyone with an equal amount of respect. Thanks for weighing in on the issue!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    As a male, you get the feeling for who likes to joke around and have the typical hyper masculine camaraderie and who isn't comfortable with it.

    The bottom line is treating everyone with an equal amount of respect. Thanks for weighing in on the issue!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    As a male, you get the feeling for who likes to joke around and have the typical hyper masculine camaraderie and who isn't comfortable with it.

    The bottom line is treating everyone with an equal amount of respect. Thanks for weighing in on the issue!

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