4 Tips to Work from Home

4 Tips to Work from Home Like a Pro

BRAZEN LIFE SEP. 27, 2013, 6:00 AM 147 1
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In college, working from home meant sleeping, watching reruns and lounging. But young professionals know that working from home is about cranking out work.

Many tools exist to make sure you’re working when you’re at home working, not pinning recipes to Pinterest or updating your fantasy football team. Here are four helpful tips to staying on track when you’re an at-home employee:

1. Invest in fast Internet

To work from home, you need a way to get to your work done online. Look for the traditional cable Internet providers, fiber optic providers like Google Fiber or Verizon FiOs in select areas of the country or satellite internet if you’re more rural.

If you want to venture out and work from a nearby park, for example, you can take the Internet with you. You no longer need your home Wi-Fi or even your neighborhood Starbucks Wi-Fi to get online.

Mobile hotspot devices like Karma allow you to connect virtually anywhere — and get rewarded with more data when your fellow park-workers try to hop on your open Wi-Fi account. Another alternative is FreedomPop. The initial investment is steep ($99 for a mobile hot spot), but after that, users get up to 500 megabytes of data a month.

2. Organize your life online

Gone are the days of whiteboards and Post-It notes. When you’re managing your own projects, you need a solid management system. Ditch the notebook and turn to these online tools:

Trello is an online to-do list on a “board” you can alter, shape and mold to fit whatever project you have. Follow your progress, make checklists, color code to make it pretty and, most importantly, set deadlines for yourself.

When you work from home, you want everything you’re working on to be accessible. Dropbox is there to house everything from photos to videos to documents. When you use Dropbox, you can access all your content on both your computer and smartphone.

Evernote itself has a lot of faces, but one to focus on is the Evernote Web Clipper feature. If you see something online — a photo, an article, a link — “clip” it with Evernote and store it. It’s helpful for research and easy to use.

3. Play music

Music is a staple in corporate cubes and home offices. It helps keep you focused when the distractions of home could otherwise derail you.

Spotify is free to download and has cool features like a radio application, a discover function that suggests music you may like and premium (paid) membership for offline access to music.

If Spotify isn’t your jam, try PandoraGroovesharkLast.fm or SiriusXM Internet radio.

4. Establish a schedule

You know it’s a bold choice to go the self-employment route. One of the best things you can do for yourself is make a schedule.

Many successful people who work from home report they use the same schedule they did when working in an office: getting up early, getting dressed and sitting down at a desk at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. By keeping the routine, you’ll have an easier time switching into “work mode.”

And just because you’re at home, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partake in office meetings. Ask to call in, or if you need to set up your own meetings, try Doodle. You can poll participants to find out which dates and times work best for everyone, and you’ve got a meeting without a trail of back-and-forth emails.

When working from home, keep in mind you’re the only one responsible for your productivity, and your productivity will keep you hungry for more. Happy homeworking!

Elizabeth Phillips is a freelance technology writer with a focus on how the Internet improves our lives. She can be found (productively) working from home in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached via email.

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The 10 Real Reasons You Like Working From Home


May 30, 2013

Rebecca Thorman

The nature of work is changing, and many employees are flocking from their bed to their desk in the next room to start the day. Here are 10 reasons knowledge workers choose to work from home:

1. Productivity. It’s hard to get work done in an office (ironic, right?). While meetings and interruptions to catch up around the water-cooler can seem like good-natured distractions or even necessary for the job, too many can make it difficult to get anything done. Not to mention that overheard conversations and meetings that go far too long can be intrusive and annoying. While building culture and camaraderie is great, many workers prefer the at-home time to complete a project and the tasks on their to-do list.

2. Comfort. Home offices are more comfortable, plain and simple. You can shift positions, get up and sit on the couch, stand, pace, throw your legs up, go for a walk and otherwise do whatever works. Sitting is killing us, literally; according to a Lifehack.org infographic, sitting six-plus hours a day makes you 40 percent likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than three hours. This is the case even if you exercise. We are just not made to sit eight hours a day, and when you work from home, there are no formalities or expectations that you have to do so.

3. Commutes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey in 2011, the average commute is 25.5 minutes. There’s no worse way to start and end a day than navigating through traffic or throngs of people in the subway. Working from home means employees get to start and end their day with sanity and peace, and remote workers get more hours per week to devote to their tasks and responsibilities.

4. Open offices. According to the International Management Facility Association, 70 percent of American employees work in open-plan offices. But further studies show that no one really likes it. The digital native news outlet Quartz reports workers in open-plan offices get sick more often (due to a lack of privacy and stress), are irritated by noises from conversations, ringing phones and machines and are less productive due to reduced motivation and decreased job satisfaction. At home, workers often get the privacy they desire, and can actually focus on a job well done.

5. Rhythm. Some people are early-risers, while others are night owls. While telecommuting doesn’t mean you can shove off your company’s schedule entirely, it does give you more flexibility to work within your own natural rhythm. Want to get up early? Go ahead. Take a break at 3 p.m.? No one’s watching. Flash of inspiration at 9 p.m.? No worries; because you didn’t have a commute, you were able to spend quality time with your family earlier in the night.

6. Food. No longer is a sad sandwich or overpriced bistro meal all you have to eat for lunch. With full access to your kitchen, you can cook and prepare real dishes for your mid-day meals, and snack without judgment. Besides saving money, this is often a healthier option than eating out or gorging on vending machine food when you need an afternoon slump pick-me-up. Plus, you can eat at your own pace since you’re not competing to return back to work.

7. Exercise. Not going into the office means you can exercise in the middle of the day and not have to worry about how you will take a shower. It means not having to carry your workout clothes, hair dryer and full makeup kit to the office. It means not having to realize too late that you left your extra socks and underwear on your dresser. And it means taking care of yourself on a schedule that works for you.

8. Space. We spend more time with colleagues than we do with those we love, so unless we really, really like our co-workers, it’s important to have time apart. Working from home restores balance, both at work and at home. Not only that, but space to ourselves to contemplate and restore our work intentions and motivations is never a bad thing. Nor is escaping the weird clucking sounds your cubicle mate makes while typing.

9. Creativity. Being around greenery, pets and all sorts of good things that aren’t part of your cold, office environment does wonders for your creativity. Even if you work in a hip workspace, a change of pace often helps stir ideas and inspiration. You can take your computer outside, blast music to fill the walls of your apartment, or step away to meditate. You’ll feel rejuvenated and carry a fresh perspective to the office the next day.

10. Money. When you don’t go into the office, you don’t have to buy gas, or spend money on the subway. You might not even have to own a car any longer. You don’t have to eat out, and you don’t have to purchase as many professional clothes or spend as much on dry cleaning. All of these work-related items add up and mean more cash to put toward an emergency fund, your house and kids, and of course more money to fund the account that will someday mean you don’t have to work any longer – retirement.

Get Organized – 20 Tips for Working from Home

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home either occasionally or full time, you’re probably fully aware of the benefits. And if you want to keep those benefits, you’ll need to stay organized by keeping on top of a few best practices.

This list of tips and best practices is divided into two parts. The first part is for people who work from home full time. Most of the suggestions apply to both the self employed and those employed by some other organization, although a few tips are slightly more relevant to the latter.

The second part of the article contains tips specifically for people who work in an office setting most of the time but occasionally work from home. Reasons for working from home only part-time might range from needing a different environment to providing child care. Whatever the reason, occasional at-home employees have very different circumstances, needs, and objectives than full-time homebodies.

Here are 20 tips and best practices for working from home.

Best Practices for Full-Time Home Office Workers

1. Maintain regular hours. Set your schedule, and stick to it. The best way for most people to maintain a healthy work-life balance is to have clear cut guidelines for when it’s time to work and when it’s time to enjoy life.

2. Get dressed before work starts. Some people may see pajama pants as one of the perks of working from a home office, but plenty of successful at-home employees will tell you that getting dressed every morning changes their mindset for the better. Getting dressed also helps delineate working hours from home life time.

3. Set ground rules with family, pets, and other home life. Set clear boundaries and ground rules with anyone else who may be in your general space during office hours. That includes the pets.

4. Take scheduled breaks. Know your company’s policy on break times, and take them. If you’re self employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. An hour for lunch and two 15-minute breaks seems to be the standard for 40-hour per week U.S. employees.

5. Take breaks in their entirety. Don’t short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. You can use an app, such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows, to lock yourself out of your computer for 60 minutes. Or you can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.

6. Leave during lunch. You don’t have to eat out every day, but do try to leave the house every day during your lunch hour. This is good advice for those working in office environments, too: leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs a little exercise, and the fresh air will do you good. Talk a walk. Go to the post office. Weed the garden. You get the picture.

7. Ask for what you need right away. If you’re employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a day or two of when you realize you need something new. It’s extremely important to set precedents early that you will ask for what you need to get your job done comfortably, including the right monitor, keyboard, mouse, and chair supports.

8. Keep a dedicated office computer. If possible, buy a separate computer for personal use, especially if you would have your own computer if you worked in an office full time. Keeping separate computers for separate uses also helps establish that line between home and work life.

9. Keep a separate phone number. Keeping two computers might be a choice, but having a separate phone number for work is not. You need a dedicated office phone number.

10. Stay in frequent contact with colleagues. This bit of advice applies more to employees than the self-employed. Use instant messaging programs, email, phone, video-chat, social networks, or whatever makes the most sense for your organization, to communicate with your colleagues every day. This best practice becomes tricky if you work in a radically different time zone from your peers, but it’s not impossible. Asynchronous messages count for something, although real-time communication is best. Do your best to make small talk, too. Nurturing relationships can be as important as the work-focused talk.

11. “Show up” to meetings and be heard. Of course you’ll dial into mandatory meetings, but it’s a good idea to attend optional meetings sometimes, too. Be sure to speak during the meeting so everyone knows that you’re on the call. A simple, “Thanks, everyone. Bye!” at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.

12. Get face time. If your boss or employer is lax about calling you in to the office, ask to have an annual or semi-annual trip to headquarters worked into your contract. If you can time it with a yearly fiscal meeting or nearby conference or tradeshow, you’ll make a stronger case. Whatever you do, don’t wait too long for someone else to ask you to show up at the office. Be proactive.

13. Take the day off when you’re sick. When you’re ill, take a proper sick day.

14. Work from a different location occasionally. Café, libraries, and co-working spaces can help break up the tedium of being at home too long.

15. Seek out training and learning opportunities. Some of the office perks you’re missing by working from home probably include free coffee and the occasional lunch outing. Of course these little perks don’t really compare to not having to commute, being able to do light housework on your lunch hour, and so forth. It’s very easy to get over not having free coffee. But it’s much more difficult to justify missing out on more important office perks such as on-site training or the skills development that comes with being in close quarters with other employees–nor should you. If your employer doesn’t provide adequate e-learning for telecommuters, ask to attend (and get reimbursed for) the odd skills-development class or webinar.

Best Practices for Occasional Work-from-Home Employees

1. Define what you will accomplish at home. Write down or think through what you intend to accomplish at home ahead of time, like while you’re still in the office. The list could be different each time you work from home, or it might be the same. Whatever the task, make sure you’re clear about what it is before you get to work so that you can be diligent about doing it.

2. Silence the distractions. Turn off email, don’t take calls, or avoid whatever it is that prevents you from getting work done when you’re at the office.

3. Work diligently or record how you spend your time. If you’re not self-disciplined enough to get your work done at home, try tracking how you spend your time. A great desktop app called RescueTime lets you track how you spend your time on the computer, as well as remind you when you’ve dallied too long in apps or websites you deem distracting.

4. Communicate when you’ll be out and back. I once worked for a boss for six months before I learned that he worked from home every Friday. I just thought he was always in meetings! Tell your colleagues, more than once, when you’ll be home, when you’ll be back, as well as whether and how they should get in touch with you while you’re home.

5. Remind your boss that working from home works. When you finish the tasks you set out to complete from home, let your boss know—especially if you did the job faster or better at home than you would have in the office. Better yet, head into the office if it’s near enough to where you live. If your boss thinks your tasks will take you all day, and you can get them done in five hours while working at home, she or he will be more amendable to your requests to work from home in the future. Building that trust and confidence benefits both of you.

Jill Duffy

PC Magazine


Design a Home Office You’ll Actually Work In

I work from home. In some respects it’s great—wearing pajamas on conference calls, taking impromptu hour-long walks with the puppy, and not getting shifty-eyed stares from judgy co-workers when I spend 99% of my day snacking.

But not working in an office also has its challenges. Mentally leaving home mode and entering work mode can be a difficult—even downright futile—effort when you never actually leave the house and your bed is right there.

I’ve found that the secret, though, is creating a space that actually inspires you to get to work instead of back under the covers. How? By following three key interior design principles, you can create a space that means business, even within the cozy confines of your home.

Emphasize What the Space is For

First, make sure you have a designated “work space.” It can be a whole room, a corner of a room, or just a table. Got it? Good.

Now, consider that designers make very conscious decisions about what to emphasize in a space, because the objects that are used as focal points help immediately qualify its purpose. When it comes to your home office, it’s important to emphasize those objects that tell your brain “this is a space for work.” Visually, these items should command a majority of the attention.

Try it out:
  • If you’re working from home, chances are your computer is your primary tool. So, it should always remain front and center on your desk, serving as a visual reminder that when you’re sitting at your desk, you’re doing so for work.
  • Don’t let job-related things—like your phone or day planner—get buried under clutter. They should always be in plain sight, acting as reminders that you’re supposed to be getting stuff done.
  • What’s better emphasis for important tasks than a bright yellow sticky note? Nothing. (Well, unless you have so many of them posted around that they distract instead of help.) Try having two colors of sticky notes available—a muted color for jotting down notes, and a bright color that you use (sparingly) for important reminders.

Set a Tone that Gets You Working 

Designers use proportion and scale to set a room’s tone. (In plain English, this means that the size and relationship of objects in a room affect how you feel when you’re in it.) Think about how a massive, relatively empty cathedral feels grand, or a small room full of couches feels cozy and warm.

Proportion and scale don’t solely refer to square footage, though—the way you organize and display objects are also important indicators of what a space should feel like. When you’re in your workspace, you want to feel productive and motivated, so think about how to set that tone. You’ll probably want to arrange objects in a way that feels inviting, yet still formal.

Try it out:
  • Keep the clutter to a minimum. A room full of unrelated objects will make the space feel distracting, and an unorganized space will just feel cramped and busy.
  • You should also make sure that there is plenty of “negative space” (empty spaces surrounding important objects) around you. Again, this is to keep the space from feeling cramped and claustrophobic—neither of which are very conducive to productivity.
  • If you’re working in a small space, keep your desk small and streamlined, too, so it’s not overly invasive in the room. You want to feel driven, not trapped.

Create a Space You Want to Work In

The design idea of harmony—or everything working together to create the right vibe—is a little harder to define, because it’s really about creating a space that feels good to you. It’s about getting all the right components in all the right places (with a touch of personal flair) to create a room that will help you feel calm, confident, and (dare I say) happy while you’re working.

Try it out:
  • Balance out the colors you’re using. If you love bright colors, use them! But offset them with some muted tones so that they’re not overly distracting.
  • Go to Target or the Container Store and buy a cute matching set of desk organizers. Not only will they help you keep everything in its place and easy to locate, they’ll make the space feel cohesive and peaceful.
  • Bring in some personal touches. Go beyond the simple desk lamp by hanging some string lights or mini lanterns, or fold a funky blanket over the back of your chair. Just make sure your flair isn’t too distracting—a life-size cardboard cutout ofJohnny Depp in Pirates 2 might be (a tad) too much.

By designating a certain area in your home as “work only,” and utilizing some basic design principles to make it productive and inspiring, you can make sure you actually work when you’re working from home.

Laura Drucker

Forbes Magazine

How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind (or Your Job)

By Alison Green

Working from home might sound like a dream come true when you consider the prospect of having no commute, working in sweatpants, and doing laundry in the background. But it isn’t easy; it takes discipline and structure, and it’s not for everyone.

If you’re thinking of telecommuting, these 10 crucial steps will help keep you productive—and employed:

1. Commit to being disciplined. If you spend your workday doing laundry, organizing your closets, catching up on TV, or surfing the Internet, you’ll not only be abusing your employer’s trust—you may end up out of a job. It’s essential to focus and not get distracted when you work from home.

2. Have set hours, just like you would at work. If you don’t set working hours and stick to them, it’s too easy to say, “Well, I’ll relax this morning and make up for it by working late tonight,” and then at night decide that you’ll make up the hours later that week. On the flip side, it’s also too easy to end up working well into the night simply if you don’t have a set time to end each day.

3. Create a daily to-do list. A daily task schedule for yourself can keep you focused. If you find yourself procrastinating anyway, try scheduling out each hour of the day so you know what you need to do when.

4. Train your friends and family not to interrupt you.Friends and family may think that if you’re working from home, you’re not “really working.” So be clear with them that you shouldn’t be interrupted at home while you’re working any more than you should be at the office. You might need to explain that you’re not available to watch the neighbor’s kids (or your own, for that matter) or do chores around the house.

5. Establish a clear system for communicating with your manager and be vigilant about sticking to it. If you leave it informal, you’re less likely to have regular communication than you would if you were physically in the office together. For instance, you might decide that (a) you’ll have one regularly scheduled phone meeting per week; (b) you’ll proactively and regularly create opportunities for less formal interaction, since your separate locations mean those won’t pop up organically; (c) you won’t rely on email for sensitive or complicated issues and instead will get on the phone to hash them out; and (d) you’ll visit your headquarters at least twice a year.

6. Be accessible. As convenient as working from home is for you, it has the potential to inconvenience your co-workers, by making it harder for them to talk to you when they need something. Since they can’t just walk down the hall to your office, go out of your way to be accessible by phone, email, and—if your office uses it—instant messaging during the day.

7. Over-communicate. When you’re telecommuting, you risk losing your connection to your boss and co-workers, and even having people wonder what you’re doing all day. To combat this, proactively let people know where projects stand and what your priorities are for the week. Additionally, while you should always stay on top of your email and phone messages, it’s especially important if you telecommute. If you let emails or phone messages go unanswered, you risk people thinking that you’re not working as hard as you would if your colleagues could see you.

8. Don’t eat while you work. With your kitchen just a few feet away, it’s easy to find yourself eating more than you would if you were at an office. Many telecommuters gain weight because it’s so easy to snack throughout the day.

9. Find ways to have in-person contact. Working from home can be isolating. If you find yourself a little too excited to see the FedEx man, it’s time to get out of your house. Try to have lunch once or twice a week with colleagues, networking contacts, or friends—outside of your home.

10. Be honest with yourself about whether you’re cut out for telecommuting. Not everyone is a good fit for working from home. If you’ll feel isolated or give in to temptation to slack off, telecommuting might not be a good choice for you.

CD LAUNCH Class 2012…a great success

In it’s continued efforts to assist it’s associates with their success, ConferenceDirect hosted it’s annual ConferenceDirect “Launch” class recently in Orlando.  This class is specifically geared towards helping associates “launch” their career with CD or move it to the next level.

The following are some quotes from attendees:

“I am contracting this month for a group in 2013 and have also been given three referrals to call, two from current clients and one from a “friend of a friend”.  I have post it notes of my revenue goal and where I am with it posted ALL over the house, in my car, etc.  I met a wonderful woman last week at an industry event and I have a “seven step” chart filled out for her, and the other prospects I have.  I am now on a committee with PCMA.  I’ve begun my personal “incentive plan” with people in my life who can help bring me to my goal.  It’s a blast talking about it!To quote my husband, I am “kicking XXX and takin’ names”   

I’m now on the Planning Committee for the SGMP Fall Education Conference.  I’ve gone back though my warm circle of family/friends and reminded them

of what I do and that yes, I do have time for more clients.    On Wednesday I made a promising a contact on a tradeshow floor with a sales rep who was very

interested in what I do.  He eagerly agreed to give my contact info to those in his company who arrange meetings.   I’m doing a follow up call to him next week.   And lastly, today (finally!) I am getting the signed contract for that 600 room piece of business for the new client I mentioned during Launch!”

 “I have nailed down my industry membership (MPI) and I’m meeting with a board member today to get my committee assignment.

In terms of business activity, I have contracted one new booking since coming back (140 room nights for next month) and yesterday received a 3 year RFP (approx 3000 room nights) from a group I have been in dialogue with since last spring…..

Expecting one more new account to also come on in the next few months once they wrap up their 2013 planning….This one came from opening up dialogue with a friend who’s brother is in the furniture business. Anyhow, I spoke to him on Wednesday and as it turns out they do a 250 person convention every year and he has all but said I could run with the RFP for their next open year…I have turned the corner!”

The commitment to ConferenceDirect Associates and their success through training continues at ConferenceDirect.

ConferenceDirect Annual Meeting – 2012, Another Great Success!

ConferenceDirect Associates recently gathered in Orlando, Florida at the beautiful Peabody Hotel for our 13th Annual Meeting.

The meeting was a great success with CD Associates participating in outstanding training sessions, extensive interaction with industry partners and presentations from a great organizations such as The Disney Institute and IDEO…a leading edge customer service organization.

Equally important we recognized many of our associates for outstanding 2011 performance.  Our Awards dinner is always a night to remember and is a great reflection of the culture at ConferenceDirect.

ConferenceDirect Associates also enjoyed the opportunity to interact with each other, hear each other’s best practices, what’s in – out, etc.

The 2012 Annual Conference was a great success.  We look forward to doing it all over again at Aria Hotel in Las Vegas in 2013!






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