Working From Home: Tips on Staying Organized and On Task

You just say the words ‘telecommute’ or ‘work from home’ and people start to salivate. I mean, who wouldn’t love to work in their pajamas and avoid rush hour traffic? That dream is a reality for 2.9 million Americans who consider their home their primary office, according to a study from the Telework Research Network. That trend is expected to grow with today’s technology and the ability to stay connected from virtually anywhere. The same study found forty-five percent of the US workforce currently holds a job that is compatible with at least part-time telework.

The advantages are definitely there for the employee, the employer and even the environment. Did you know, those 2.9 million telecommuters alone save 390 million gallons of gas and prevent the release of 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gases every year? Telecommuting saves the employer and employee costs. It also boosts morale, which can lead to better productivity and loyalty.  However, it does have its challenges, particularly, distractions and staying motivated. Some common distractions include household chores, errands, TV, children and pets. Here are some tips from the trenches on how to stay focused, organized and on track while working from home.

If You Can’t Work With It, Remove It
Distractions are the number one roadblock when working from home. You know your distractions best. Whatever it is, if you know you can’t work with it around, remove it. If your children are home and constantly interrupting, arrange for daycare. If the TV is a temptation, keep it out of reach and out of site. If the temptation to do errands plagues you, make a daily schedule that allows time before or after work to get them done.

Home Office Does Not Mean Your Couch
The best way to close out those distractions is with a dedicated office space. The fastest place to lose your train of thought is on your living room couch or at the dining room table where all those distractions are staring you in the face. You need a room dedicated solely as an office, with a door that can literally close off the distractions. If you use this space only as an office, it will also help mentally get you in work mode.

Stock Your Space
Make sure your office space is fully stocked with whatever supplies you need and is organized in a way that makes them easy to access. There is nothing worse than getting in a zone, being on a role and then having to stop to find a pen or whatever it may be. Once you open that office door, the distractions are going to start pouring in, tempting you once again.

Set Your Hours and Stick to Them
It is easy to get pulled away from work when you are at home. You need to treat it like any other office, one that you come to at a set time and one you leave at a set time.  If you physically block off time to work each day on a calendar it will let everyone in the house know that time is off-limits. It is to be treated just as if you were away at work. It also serves as a visual reminder for you and helps keep you on task and keeps your day structured.

Keep in Touch
Working from home can be isolating and lonely at times. Make sure to keep in contact with your boss and colleagues. It can help lift your spirits and give you a sense of being in it together. You should also be sure to answer all correspondences with your boss or clients promptly. It let’s your boss know you are being productive and that you can handle the privilege of working remotely.

Turn It Off
Once your scheduled time to work is up, turn off your computer, turn off you office lights and close the door, lock it if you have to. Just be done! One of the biggest challenges of working from home is you never physically leave. Work is always there, and so is the temptation to tackle ‘one more thing’. That is why an office and set hours are a must.

The bottom line is working from home can be a wonderful experience, but it is still a job and should be treated like any other.

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Michelle Knoll is a freelance writer based out of the Twin Cities with more than 15 years experience writing for local media outlets and other various organizations. She can be reached at Michelle@KnollCommunications.com

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