Especially after you have been working for years in a traditional office, you may find the jump to a virtual or home office relatively difficult, as it poses advantages as well as disadvantages.
First, your home is the place where you relax, so you may be tempted to slack off a bit, feel sleepy, and may even have the tendency to be less serious about work. Next, you are now unable to separate home life from office life - so much for the saying "Leave all your problems at home and don't take them to your place of work."
On the other hand, there are remarkable advantages, too. First, you do not need to waste time, effort and gas driving or commuting to and from work. Next, since you do not need to travel to the office, you can sleep in a little later… or have more bonding time with your family. Another advantage is that you can work at your own pace, for as long as you are able to do all your assigned duties for the day.
But there are effective ways to get used to working at home. Mastering them is a must for you to do optimal work, and perform at your best, even when your feet are up, your hair is all over the place, and you are in your jammies. Here are 5 tips that help you achieve your best.
Set a proper schedule. This is probably the best advice you should be taking into account. Even if you are in your home, and there is no boss hovering your shoulder and watching your every move, you must stick to a schedule and make sure you follow it. Especially important if you have a daily task list, and you still have an off-site boss giving you orders, the truth of the matter is no matter what happens in your home, you still have duties you must do. Not being able to do them on time may mean that other individual's schedules may also be affected. Establish a routine. Find a procedure that helps you be more productive. A Good suggestion is to work on difficult tasks first (while your mind is still fresh from a good night's sleep), then tackle the easier tasks at the later part of the day. Another good tip would be to plan the night before a workday. If you have a lot to do, list them down in order of urgency/difficulty - then follow this schedule the day after.
Exercise discipline. Eliminate distractions. Probably the most difficult factor about working from home is the presence of so many distractions. Your family is there, your crying kids, your talkative mother, or your bickering siblings. You need to feed the dog, you need to wash the dishes, you need to load your laundry, you have a widescreen television, or the telephone and doorbell keep on ringing the entire day. There are too many distractions, and like it or not - they really get in the way of your productivity. The best solution is this: inform everyone else that you are at work. Remind them of the repercussions of being distracted. The better solution also is to set up an allotted home office - maybe in a small room, where you can close the door behind you, and where noise and the temptation from technology is eliminated. If you can, try to avoid working at a lounge chair beside your pool, or worse - on your bed. You are only exposing yourself to more disruption of your normal work schedule.
Take breaks. Oh yes, we do know that your momentum is affected by taking time out, but remember - even if you are working from a normal office, you need to take a lunch break, or go get a cup of coffee, go to the loo. Set internal alarms to avoid working for long hours without rest. Stand up from time to time to avoid edema, or water retention due to too much sitting on your home office.
If you are too busy to take a break, maybe it's time you told your boss to lighten the load. Remember that unless you inform your superior, he will never know that he is already pushing you to your limits- mostly because he cannot physically see you (nor witness the symptoms of that near nervous breakdown which you are so close to having). Take a break, but keep it to under an hour.
Stop at the end of a work day. If you want to eliminate the risk of burn out due to too much work (even from the home, that is possible), then turn off everything at a specific "end of the workday time." Sometime, superiors feel they have the luxury of assigning you tasks even if they know that it is well beyond your work hours. Sometimes, he sends you emails on weekends, or on holidays.
Stop all this by pretending that you work in a real office - no overtime (especially since there is no overtime pay), no work on weekends and at night or sleeping time. If he does sends you weekend emails, then respond to them on Monday morning. If he calls you at night to ask you to do something, excuse yourself and tell him you have plans with your family.
To sum things up, working from home is convenient, but it is prone to distractions and disruptions. On the other hand, it allows you the unique opportunity to look after your family or be with your dog while you are "at work." You work entails discipline, but learn to make time for your family and personal life as well. Once you've mastered this, you will find it easy to make things work out - yes, even if you are in your pyjamas and walking barefoot around the house.
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