If you’re one of the millions of Americans that telecommute to work each day, you might have mixed feelings about the situation.
When you worked in an office, you had bosses and co-workers to hold you accountable. Working from home means you still have to be accountable, but with laundry to wash, shopping to be done and a “Friends” marathon on television every Friday, discipline can be difficult.
Successful telecommuting doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires a plan of action, a way to make work and home life easier. A successful remote worker has secrets you might not have considered. Here are seven great ones.
Get up and move
You can’t sit in front of the computer day in and day out and not exercise. Even people in offices take walks for coffee or breaks for quick trips to the gym during the day.
You need to make sure you’re replicating that at home. One great idea is to plan your daily exercise routine around the time when your energy wanes and your productivity drops. The rush of endorphins from exercising can boost your creative energy and allow you a few more hours of productive work.
Share your office
Isolating yourself from other people every single day can cause anxiety, social phobia and boredom. If you have a spouse who telecommutes work in the same space. It’s like having a coworker who is always there to talk to – without driving you crazy with work-related drama.
If you don’t have a spouse or friend you can share your home office with sometimes, work in public. Go sit at a cafe or coffee shop and work while you listen to baristas talking and students studying. It eliminates feelings of isolation and provides you with an excuse to take a break, read the paper or just carry on conversation with someone in line.
Change your clothes
You might think the best part of telecommuting is working in your pajamas. However, some people feel more productive when they dress the part of successful corporate officer, even at home.
Think of it this way: If you find yourself sitting in your home office thinking the bathroom really needs a good cleaning, you’re more likely to ditch work and scrub in your pajamas than that brand new wrap dress and heels.
Bring the coffee in
Successful work sometimes require copious amounts of caffeine (or tea or whatever you drink of choice happens to be). Unfortunately, there are many things to do between your office and the kitchen if you need another cup.
Toys need picking up, laundry needs washing and the dishwasher could use a spin. Invest in a coffee pot for your home office and eliminate the need to leave the office at all.
Work on a schedule
Schedules are no fun, but they’re necessary if you want to telecommute successfully. Working from home means that your friends and family will begin to assume you have no real job and you lie by the pool all day sipping mimosas and doing them favors at their whim.
Make it known that you have a schedule and you will not deviate from it. The beauty, however, is that you can start it whenever you want. If your schedule includes working eight hours a day, you can make those hours anytime you want, even if you’re up at 4 am working for three hours before the kids wake up so you can make them breakfast and take them to school.
Just make sure you stick to schedule as often as possible. No personal calls, visits or interruptions during your self-scheduled workday.
Create fun goals
While you do need a work-related to-do list when telecommuting, it’s important to have a fun list of goals as well. It’s a way of boosting your productivity when you want to do anything but head into your home office and work.
For example, if it’s a gorgeous day and you’re tempted to put work aside for a few hours and head out to the pool, don’t do it. Give yourself a list of goals that allows you to do what you want to do in the afternoon provided you finish your work.
You’d be surprised how much you can get done efficiently and productively when you have something you want to do. It helps to eliminate late nights in your home office and weekends spend cooped up instead of having fun.
Work your best hours
Telecommuting means creating your own schedule. However, what you really need to do is create those hours based on your best times. For example, some people are just not productive after lunch. They want a nap and they’ve mentally checked out for the day.
If you work great first thing in the morning before everyone is awake or until it’s time for lunch, make those your work hours. If you have kids who are out of the house for six hours at school and those are your best hours, make those your work hours. If you’re an insomniac who finds the dark and quiet solitude of night the most productive time, then work those hours.
Telecommuting is only successful if you want it to be. Consider your personal preferences, your personality type and your own abilities and use those to your advantage. If your telecommuting schedule doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work at all.
Larry Alton is a Seattle native and former small business consultant. He is also a regular contributor to SearchEngineJournal.com, MarketingTechBlog.com, and BloggingTips.org.
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