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

By 

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!

 

 

 

 

5 ways I stay focused while working at home – Melissa Hincha Ownby

Happy Telework Week 2012. If you work from home, how was your commute this morning? When I got up this morning, I commuted from my bedroom to my office to start my workday. Although I love working from home, I’ve found that it isn’t always easy to stay focused and on task. The phone rings for non-business-related reasons, neighbors stop by to say hi and I hear hammers and other construction noises coming from the lot where my new neighbors are building their house.

I’m sure that I’m not alone with these distractions, and so I am sharing five ways that I stay focused while working from home.
1. Set up a productive workspace
If you work outside of the home you likely have an office or dedicated workspace; you need to have the same setup if you telework. I have a nice-sized desk with a comfortable office chair. Since I live in a community that is still being built, there are a lot of distracting noises just outside my door and so I make sure that I have a source of ambient noise. My favorite is classical music or some smooth jazz. It drowns out the outside noise but doesn’t distract from my writing.
Your definition of a productive workspace may differ from mine but planning your workspace is an important first step if you’re transitioning into a telework position. I asked Allison O’Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps, what three items she would place in her ideal work-from-home office space.
An office door that shuts, to close out distractions. It may sound silly and very obvious, but creating a physical barrier between your workspace and your home life makes a significant difference in your productivity level.”
A webcam for virtual meetings. My company, Mom Corps, is a 100 percent virtual workforce with offices across the country. I’ve found that occasional “face to face” meetings via webcam keep our employees connected and engaged. Phone calls work most of the time, but every so often, connecting with our team so we can see each other’s non-verbal communication helps us learn each other’s communication styles, which comes in handy during those times when we can’t see each other.”
A mindset of over-communicating. It is so easy to get lost in your day when working from home or from another remote location, but it is cross-team communication that makes this model work. On our regular team calls, we discuss productive methods for interaction, the latest technologies for team collaboration, and where we are not meeting expectations. By having this as a regular agenda item, the topic of communication becomes more and more habitual.”
2. Task management program
A comprehensive yet easy-to-use task management program is an integral part of working from home, especially if you are self-employed or a freelancer. Since I’m a self-admitted Apple addict, I wanted to find a program that would work on my MacBook, my iPhone and my iPad so that I always had access to my tasks. After a lot of research I ended up purchasing the OmniFocus program and it is perfect for me.
If you work for a business that has a built-in task management program, make sure that you have access to that program from your home office. The ability to keep track of your projects regardless of your work location will help you stay focused.
3. Set work hours
When I first started teleworking it was the late 1990s and my work hours were the same hours that I held at the office. Whenever I started working from home as a self-employed individual I didn’t pay attention to start and end times and I quickly found myself overwhelmed with deadlines and missing hours in my day.
Now I have a pretty set schedule and my family and friends all know that if it is 10 a.m. on a weekday, I’m working, even though I’m at home, and they are less likely to interrupt me with a call or surprise visit.
4. Get out and get moving
When I worked in an office building I’d head out for a lunchtime walk with several of my coworkers. I still try to do this even though I telework now. Just getting out and talking a quick walk around the neighborhood helps clear my mind, and it’s always great to stretch out my legs.
Unfortunately I am not able to get outdoors year-round. When the summer highs top 115 here in Arizona, the last thing I want to do is walk around the neighborhood at noontime, and I’m sure those of you in snowy climates may feel the same during the winter months. During the summer, I’ll do some stretching and then a few exercises with my workout band. The main point of the break is to get out of your office chair and wake up your muscles.
5. Schedule brainstorming sessions
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges with teleworking is coming up with new ideas for my business. A few years ago I learned that I did better if I scheduled a once-a-month brainstorming session and just wrote down every idea that came to mind. I take these ideas and put them into OmniFocus and revisit them regularly to determine which ideas I want to flesh out and which ideas need to be scrapped.
If you work for an organization and have co-workers, make sure to include them in your brainstorming session. Getting together for a working lunch is great if a face-to-face meeting is possible, if not fire up your web cam for a virtual meeting and let the ideas flow.
I’ve been teleworking off and on for years and have discovered what works for me. As with everything in life, take what works for you and forget the rest. If you’re new to teleworking, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the process of transitioning from office employee to home office employee.
O’Kelly also recommends that you, “set clear boundaries. With a spouse or significant other, it is important to explain that you aren’t the catch-all for child care or errand running just because you are at home. Explain that they should think of your job just as they think of their own — mandatory and with a set schedule and routine.”

8 Keys for Work at Home Success

Working your own hours in your pajamas whenever you feel like it and never having to leave your house – and being paid for it – sounds pretty fantastic to most people! Unfortunately, working from home is not necessarily all that simple. Sure, there is the advantage of forever avoiding rush hour traffic, but there is also the much more difficult than expected task of dividing at-home time with working-at-home time.
“I’ll just make the bed real quick”… “Shoot, my desk is way too cluttered to get work done”… “I am starving; I’ll just run out for a quick bite and get right back to work.” The reasons are endless for procrastinating on getting work done. The key to successfully working from home is being able to differentiate when it’s time to work and when it’s time to simply be at home.
Okay, this was not intended to dash your hopes of successfully working from home; it can most certainly be done. People do it every day with great success. Here are a few tips for at-home workers who are really ready to make it work.
1. Dress for work
This seems silly. “Why can’t I work in my underwear?” you may ask, “No one will know.” Well, you will know. Successfully working from home requires a disciplined mindset, and you need to take yourself seriously. If you went to the office in your underwear, there’s no way anyone there would take you seriously, and deep down you know you won’t either.
2. Be truly accountable for your time
Seriously write down and track your time spent working. This is a great way to begin to hold yourself accountable for your valuable time spent. Journal what you did throughout the day, and be honest if you find yourself chatting on the phone with Mom when you really should be calling in those orders.
3. Work with a buddy
Peer pressure is a fantastic source of accountability. If you are lucky enough to know another person who works from home, set up days to work together to be sure each other is keeping up with work-at-home best practices. Doing this may also help you catch on to techniques that work for your fellow at-home worker or even smart house/work division ideas.
4. Know when to get away
No one is perfect, and sometimes prioritizing your work when you’d rather be doing the laundry (hard to believe) might mean that you need to get out of the house. Heading out to the library or a coffee shop is a great idea to avoid those distractions as well as making a nice change of scenery. Working at home and living at home means you might not be getting out much!
5. Avoid multi-tasking
Blending your work to-do list, your home to-do list, and your things-I-just-want-to-do list can become a work-at-home nightmare. Getting a few things done for work, then unloading the dishwasher and then checking Facebook before getting back to work may seem harmless, (it’s all stuff you need to get done anyway!) but it’s not the way to maximize your productivity.
6. Stay focused
Like I mentioned above, staying on task is vital to successfully working from home. You may find it easier to follow through if you’re able to have a separate work computer from your at-home computer. Ideally, a completely separate workspace would be perfect, but physically delineating between work and home is immensely helpful however you can do it.
7. Center your concentration
You don’t just need to hold your time accountable – you’ll also need to hold yourself mentally accountable. Being physically present doesn’t matter when you work from home if you’re not mentally present for your work.
8. Don’t self-destruct
It’s all about time management. If you’re looking into working from home, the concept of working 9 to 5, Monday through Friday at the office probably sounds dreadful. To succeed at home you’ll need to set your own “office” hours, though they may not be the same as conventional hours. Poor time management can mean you’ll find yourself working here-and-there seven days a week, and that’s the fast track to a major burn out.
The great perks of working from home can all too often become the downfall of many work-from-home hopefuls. The key to succeeding in this unsuspectingly difficult line of work is, and always will be, personal accountability.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.

How to Work from Home Like you Mean It….(Fast Company)

Despite all the stories you’ve heard, the hardest part of working from home isn’t putting on pants every day. 

I’ve been working from home, a few different homes, since late 2007. And the biggest thing I’ve learned during those four years is that working from home doesn’t have to change how you get work done, but it does change nearly everything else about your gig. When there are hard, regular deadlines and a constant flow of work, it is just like being at an office–with the added advantage that nobody else is there to interrupt my train of thought with an impromptu visit. And then there were times when I nearly broke down and told the boss the truth about why that weeklong project was in such sad shape: Because just when I need to focus it becomes clear that there are a lot of interesting links to look at on the Internet. Like this one.

I’m far from the only person to have confronted the joys and challenges of telecommuting. So I asked a few productive work-from-homers what they would do differently, if they could go back in time and reboot their office. Here’s a bit of home-working hindsight that might help you out the next time you’re going to work from home, whether it’s for a day or a career.

Look the Part, Be the Part

It’s one of far too many great quotes from Proposition Joe in The Wire [1], and great advice for getting more done at home.

Dressing for work and “arriving” on time, eating lunch on a rigid schedule, shaving, brushing, and so on seems pointless at first. But not doing these basic preparations is the start of a steep, Teflon-coated slope to all kinds of other transgressions. If you’re not dressed well enough to greet the UPS delivery person, you’re giving yourself license to hide. If you’re hiding, then you imagine nobody can see Netflix open on your second monitor. On and on it goes, until you spend a two-hour lunch watching Portlandia [2] on your couch with your iPad, grabbing your way through a bag of kettle chips. After that you’ll try and fake your way through an afternoon of self-loathing busywork.

It’s not clever psychological trickery. It’s having respect for the work you do, wherever you do it. John Herrman [3], tech writer and assistant editor at Popular Mechanics [4], suggested in a Twitter chat that it’s almost like treating your working self’s worst tendencies like a prisoner of war, or maybe someone suffering from grief: Keeping up rituals, routines, and appearances is how you train yourself to do your work when you’re supposed to, and set aside the fun stuff for after hours.

Schedule offline social time, batch your online social time

When you’re in an office, you’ll occasionally wish for fewer distractions, more privacy, and for Todd in acquisitions to find a job somewhere else. When you’ve been working from home at a frantic clip, you’ll start to realize how much you miss talking to somebody other than your dog, having a good excuse to get up from your desk, and sharing in the struggle of other workers with intolerable bosses. And you start to fear you’re heading toward the social condition depicted by The Oatmeal [5].

So schedule some regular out-of-home social times [6]. When those sometimes fall through, you’ll realize the value of “batching” your online social time. It’s very tempting to keep a Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ tab open at all times, along with Reddit, Hacker News, and other forums and fast-moving link-based sites. When they’re always open, they’re the equivalent of distracting coworkers, constantly shifting your attention away to complaints, jokes, gossip, and “Did you see…” discussions–the kind of stuff that makes it hard to get work done at work [7]. You also come to appreciate them less, and they become more of a utility.

As geeky as it sounds, then, put your two or three “social breaks” right on your daily agenda or calendar. Don’t open social or addictive news sites until that time. Breaking the habit will be hard at first, so try a tool like RescueTime [8] to literally block yourself from your impulses and enforce your segmented work and play times.

Realize when the problem is motivation, not space

Distractions, temptations, and kids can all legitimately get in the way of doing work at home. But sometimes you have to step back and look at other reasons why you’re avoiding the work that needs doing. Is it really because you don’t want to do it?

This is perhaps the hardest part of working from home. At an office, you are very likely to be found out and penalized if you spend all day checking Facebook or replaying Portal 2, so you at least make a stab at moving forward on even the most painful tasks. At home, it’s up to you to stay motivated, and the things toward the very bottom of the Awesome Challenging Fun list might never get done.

The only real solution is summed up by designer and iOS developer Neven Morgan [9]: “Wake up unable to stop thinking about the awesome thing you’re working on [10].” If you lack for an awesome project, or a sense of where the work in front of you is going to take you, that’s probably the reason you’ll do anything other than what you have to do. Luckily, you can think that through and plan your next move anywhere, whether at home, in the office, or in line at the grocery store.

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