Working at home can be very rewarding and for many people, especially those who want to have more flexibility, it is a dream come true.
Being self-employed, or finding a job where you can work from home can be a great arrangement. However, it isn't for everyone and it comes with its own set of challenges. In order to be successful, you have to be someone who is self-motivated and able to manage their own workday without a boss looking over your shoulder. If you aren't that sort of independent worker, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Finding balance between your work needs and your family's needs is one of the big problems of working from home. When you don't have a set work schedule, being productive (and staying productive) is harder than you'd think. There are so many interruptions to contend with and many are ones that would never take place in a traditional setting. But, when you work from home it is difficult to stop your friends from asking you to run a few, quick errands for them because they “have to work”. Or having to stop working in order to deal with phone calls and the people who just stop by to say hello and see what you are doing. Honestly, it can make you want to scream sometimes.
If you work from home, here are some tips that can help you be more productive:
- Stop procrastinating – It is tempting to put off certain tasks when you really don't want to do them. We assume that there will be plenty of time to do them later. But, when later comes, there isn't enough time to do them as well as you would have liked. The next thing you know, your work starts to suffer. In this situation, the best thing to do is to force yourself to just get started. When I find myself putting something off, a trick that really helps is to set a timer for 30 minutes. I say that I will only work until the timer goes off, and then I can stop. I will accomplish more in that half hour than I would if I spent another 2 hours putting it off. Once the timer goes off, I usually don't want to stop because I have already gained the needed momentum.
- Eliminate distractions – If you are being driven to distraction, eliminate the ones that you know are your personal weaknesses. I have set “office hours'. I have a ban on my personal Facebook during that time, and I only can access my professional email account. Since I don't receive any personal mail there, I am less tempted to get sidetracked. When my office hours are over, I can check my email, and Facebook all I want.
- Plan your work day – Once you have your set office hours, plan out your breaks and your lunch break ahead of time. Preparing for “going” to work is the same as if you were going to the office. Enjoy your coffee, make sure you have everything you need and get started. When you have a plan, you're less likely to take lots of small breaks or spend your lunch break running errands or doing other personal chores. Use your break time to get away from your computer screen. When you spend your break online, it's easy to say “just a few more minutes” and when you look up again, an hour has flown by. It's also a good idea to have a preset stopping point. Since you are at home, it's easy and very tempting to always be “at work”. Having a clear idea of when your personal time starts will prevent burn out.
- Don't beat yourself up – One of the hardest parts of being your own boss is that your boss knows everything. They know the second you slack off and will beat you up for it, even when you are laying in bed at night. So, make a real effort to be a supportive manager for yourself. Really try to come up with ways to encourage, motivate and reward your staff (you) without being too hard on yourself. We all have off days, and it is important to learn how to leave work at the office – even if the office is in your living room.
Have you ever considered working from home? How did you stay motivated and on-task? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for CSJobsBlog. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.