Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Top 7 Tips for Working Effectively From Home

For those of you who work from home on a regular basis, or, decide to give it a try a day a week, now and then, whatever…..here are some tips as to how to stay effective. Now for the Kings and Queens of amazing willpower, these tips won’t be necessary because you’re going to be able to stay on track anyway. These tips are more for those who need external influences, people and tools to help keep you on the straight and narrow.

1. Working from home can be a double edged sword. On one hand, some people love the idea of being able to work in their pajamas. Well, I have news for you pajama buffs….it’s been proven that if you don’t dress the part, your effectiveness goes way down. Sure you can dress casually, but as if it were ‘dress down Friday’ not getting ready for bed.

2. For you multi-taskers who decide once you’re home, you might as well put in a load of laundry, cook 10 meals, make those phone calls, well, you’re either going to be absolutely exhausted halfway through the day as you’re doing 2 jobs not one, but you’re not going to stay focused on the work that needs to be done. Create a plan of action ahead of time and stick to it. Household chores can be done after hours. You’re saving time on the commute, and if you stick to your plan you might even finish early. Focus on one thing at a time, the first being distinguishing between your work life and personal life.

3. Make sure someone from the office, a colleague or team member is in touch with you and that whatever you do from home has a direct bearing on what they are doing as well. That way if you stray, someone else will get you back in line because there are consequences for them too! A buddy system works….a colleague, staffer…anyone who might be waiting for your input before being able to continue with theirs. In a word....deadline.

4. Don’t stick to tedious work. It’s really easy to get into trouble and stray away from the job if you’re not happy with the content of the job. Have fun, make sure you love what you do. You should be loving what you’re doing at any rate as that’s what keeps you energized and on top of your ‘game’.

5. Prioritize. Keep a schedule. Write that schedule down in your planner (if you use one). Outlook isn’t as good when you’re sitting at your desk because you’re not as in tuned with that list that is on the side of your desk staring you in the face. Make sure those priorities are just that and get to them first. Then cross them off the list.

6. If family and friends know you’re working from home, then make sure they know it’s WORK. If you answer the phone and start a conversation, then why should they take you seriously if you don’t? Let the answering machine pick up messages and get back to them after hours. If the bell rings and you’re not expecting a delivery, then don’t answer the door. You’re working, remember? And if you were at the office, the carpet cleaners, driveway sealers and all those other tradesmen who love to come by and sell you something will come back when it’s convenient for you….not them!

7. Make sure you have a home office because working on the dining room or kitchen table doesn’t cut it. You’ll have to move everything later on and that’ll just create more chaos. If you have a home office, make sure it’s one you love that’s organized and inspires efficiency. If you have a home phone in there, turn off the ringer. Make sure the room also defines work from play.

Remember what works and what doesn’t work for you so you can automatically implement the necessary changes for the next time you choose to work from home. You might just find yourself ahead of the game rather than playing catch-up.

Donna Karlin

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