Most of us, here in 90 Digital are telecommuters. That is a fancy word for saying that we do not work in a designated office area but from wherever we prefer. Keeping that way productivity and creativity levels high. I personally, prefer working from my home office and after 7 months working this way, I have come up with 5 tips that many of you fellow telecommuters might find handy (or not, but its all about freedom).
1. Have a schedule (and stick to it!)
Set up a schedule every week, or day, or as required, of things that need your attention. Plan ahead, always know what your next task is.
The great thing when you do not work in a traditional working environment is flexibility. Up to a point. Get too flexible and soon you will be working 15 hours a day to catch up with things you should have done yesterday.
Personally, I prefer to divide my work day in 4 parts.
In the first part I do all my communication/ warming up: I answer to emails, schedule calls/ meetings, read some work relevant news.
Second part is collaboration time: calls, meetings and co project working is happening in this part.
Third part: Lunch/break. this is crucial for your workflow! You would have a lunch break if you were working in an office so, you do have to have one when working from home (or anywhere else)
Extra tip for that: Plan your lunch ahead, know exactly what you are eating from the day before (a plan on the fridge, works for me). Not doing so will bring you either cooking in the middle of your work day or nibbling anything, most possibly unhealthy, that you find forgotten in your cupboard.
Fourth and last part, get my personal work done. I am still accessible for calls or to answer to emails but at this part I am doing all the work that needs to be done by me. Having this part last helps me extend my work day to an “as needed basis” adding a lot to the flexibility factor we talked before.
2. Get dressed (and undressed)
I find it extremely important for my productivity (and my professionalism) to get appropriately dressed for work everyday. Not only this shows to my colleagues and clients that I respect them (we show a lot ourselves on Skype here in 90D). But, also helps me to know when work starts and when it ends, adding greatly to my daily routine.
3. Set the boundaries right
Assign a space in your home as a working space. It can be a separate home office room or even a dedicated corner. In any case keep the borders well guarded. Enter the space to work and exit it when you have done. I find it very useful to actually close the door of my home office every time I have finished working for the day. “Not doing so would lead me sleeping at the office rather than working from home.”
If you use the same pc for working and leisure, make sure you get a different profile for each purpose. That way, you will not get tempted to waste your working time checking social pages or wandering the internet just because your browser history suggested to do it so. Moreover, you can effectively relax in your free time, as there will not be work related stuff floating around when the only thing you want is to blow off some steam from work. The Golden rule applies here “Keep work and personal life well separated, for the sake of both!”
Let the people know when you are working. Phone calls and unscheduled visits can ruin your productivity. I found it very hard to get people to understand that even if I am at home I am not available for chatting or a short visit. A couple of voicemail forwards and some unanswered door bells really did the trick for me. But what really worked was a pair of sound cancelling headphones. Not only I can enjoy my favorite tunes but they also, effectively, keep out any distractions that would ruin my work flow. There is a catch here though:
4. Be social
Working in a virtual only space can seriously damage your social life. Most adults find their closest friends at work. That is not the case when you work from home. Take extra care and arrange as many friend outings, even during the week, as you can. I know that is very difficult after a hard working day to get out, especially when you are in your house and your comfy couch is so close. But, doing so will keep you going and well motivated. People are social creatures.
If you find that unbearable to do then you might consider working from a co-working space instead. Interacting with other people and getting out there will boost your productivity and creativity to very high levels. I know that many of my fellow colleagues have done it so.
5. Get well organised
Do the extra mile and invest in anything you use regularly for work. Get a comfortable office chair and make your desk as much as ergonomical you can. Declutter your office space and always have spare stationery on hand. Please print as little as possible, or even better not at all, but if you do, have an extra toner in a cupboard. Brighten up your space with as much natural light you can.
Extra tip: Invest in a good coffee maker! There is nothing better than a home made fresh brewed cup of coffee to help you get your day started or to extend that late night project you are working on.
My name is Lefteris and I work with 90 Digital as a Digital PR manager. I would like to hear your tips or ideas at the comment section below.