Top 7 Work at Home Success Tips
By Sue Brenner, PCC, PMP
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Working at home is like living the dream, right? Rolling out of bed to grab a conference call, walking 10 seconds to your home office, saving hours per week and keeping dollars in your pocket when you cut out your commute… But, when you finally do start working from home, you realize there are some challenges amidst all the bliss. Use these top 7 tips to move past barriers. Apply what you learn to set yourself up for work-at-home success.
- Dress for Success
…or at least get dressed. Sure you could curl up under the covers during your 7:00 am conference call, except for your dead-give-away groggy voice on the line. Make it your routine to get up and get dressed as if you were leaving the house to get to an office. Repelled by putting on a suit when you won't be leaving the house today? OK, at least slip out of your pajamas into pants and your favorite shirt. It will sharpen your energy and prepare your mind for productive work. That's better than being drawn back to bed as soon as the call is over. If you are going to work at home, you actually have to get work done.
- Get to Work
As one virtual business owner says, "My biggest challenge is going to my office at a set time and starting to work without procrastinating or finding other non-related work things to do." How to get yourself to get up and go? Do the toughest thing first. Studies show that when you start your day with what's hardest for you to do, you're much more likely to do it. This is true with doing a tough work task like making cold calls to prospects or learning a new software program for an assignment. It also applies to activities that you may tend to avoid such as exercise. Whatever challenge you face, whatever you resist, do it first.
- Maximize Your Energy
What is your natural rhythm during the day? When are you most awake and energized? When do you do your best work? Follow your natural rhythm so that you maximize the times when you are already 'up' and have down time when you are naturally lower energy. If you know you're fired up first thing in the morning, make sure you don't grab the remote and start flipping through the channels. Use that peak time. On the other hand, if you really start to slump at 3:00 pm, don’t schedule highly concentrated, creative activities like writing reports during that time. Take a short break to renew or do something mundane like filing.
- Stick to a Schedule
Once you figure out when your energy peaks, create, post and stick to a regular work schedule. Your job may call for you to work standard nine to five work hours. If so, that's your set schedule. Where there is flexibility, some people break their work in two shifts. The first shift happens during the day for four to six hours. The next one occurs at night for two to three hours. For example, your schedule might be 9:00 am - 3:00 pm and then 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. This allows working parents to spend time with their children after school hours. For others, the afternoon break is a time for fitness or having down time before firing up the work engine again at night.
- Create Work at Home Rules
Isn't working from home about having more freedom? Yes, and along with that freedom comes discipline and responsibility. When you discover you're sorting the white clothes from the darks at 10:00 am that pang of guilt strikes because you know laundry isn't exactly a work priority. What can you do to stay focused? Create your own work rules to maximize productivity and results. Sample work at home rules include: No loud music from other house dwellers during work hours; No personal phone calls or emails during work hours; No one but you answers the work phone. Think about what rules will serve you best and keep you on track.
- Stay Connected
Even with email, telephone and videoconferences, there is still the need for human connection. You may find yourself surrounded by the four walls of your home office staring at the computer tempted to yell, "Hello. Is anyone out there?" But then you'd only hear an echo. While some of you love being by yourselves, the extroverts out there will need more interaction. Make it a point to collaborate with others at least by phone. Join a networking group or class to stay in contact with other professionals. Some find they are more productive in libraries or coffee houses with focused time surrounded by people.
- Avoid All Work and No Play
You start working at home fantasizing about free time. Then it becomes all too easy to work in the morning, through lunch and past midnight. Your kids refer to you as 'the zombie.' Your friends think you've been off on business travel for two months. Embrace the benefits of working at home by having fun too. How? Make plans and stick to them. Schedule meeting a friend for a movie right after work. Plan a workout with a colleague, meet for a drink or re-engage with a hobby. Have a place you have to go to so that your work hours come to a clear stop. You'll be refreshed when you return back to work plus you'll prevent burn out.
And if you want ways to reach your work and life goals faster, join author of 'The [N]aked Desk' Sue Brenner for her next *live* no cost tele-seminar by going to http://www.suebrenner.com
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Article Submitted On: April 24, 2008