Tips for working from home

Working remotely or from home can be a big perk of a job. In an earlier post, I shared some benefits of working from home. I’ve also been fortunate enough to occasionally work from home in my current role, which has been great for work-life balance.

Whether you’re in a role that lets you work from home once in a while like me, or if you’re telecommuting 100 per cent of the time, there are many ways to make sure you’re being as efficient as possible while you’re away from the office.

Over the years, I’ve honed my ability to work well from home. In university, I struggled to get homework or assignments done at home because I often lost focus and was continually tempted to step away from my work by endless distractions, including cleaning, walking the dog or watching daytime TV. Since, I’ve become much more effective when working from home and I even prefer it some days!

The following tips have helped me stay on track:

  1. Plan your workday – Have the self-discipline adhere to a map of your day, including laying out tasks and deadlines, along with meetings and calls. A daily and weekly to-do list helps to put immediate and medium-term deadlines in perspective. There’s no better feeling than crossing something off your to-do list!
  2. Now, plan your non-workday – Working at home provides all the comforts of, well, home. If need to take the dog for a short walk at noon, or pick up your dry cleaning by 4:00 p.m., pencil it into your schedule. Use your judgment, but as long as you don’t have an important call, deadline or deliverable, you can try to work your day around these “wants” or “needs.” Remember to block-off time in your calendar so others know you’re unavailable, and advise team members you won’t be at your laptop at a certain time.
  3. Improve communication with your team – I’ve learned that being clear and concise in emails is even more important when you can’t just pop over to someone’s desk to ask a quick question face-to-face. Make sure action items, responsibility owners and deadlines are spelled out clearly. Bullets and lots of white space help! Picking up the phone and having a brief chat is another way to get to the bottom of a question or to discuss next steps.
  4. Pick your environment based on your task at hand – Different settings can inspire me to be creative, efficient or analytical. For example, quiet places are better for working on budgets or complex problems. When brainstorming creative ideas, a coffee shop or a restaurant may help yield more exciting results. If you’re writing a report, a serene setting like the couch or a chair on a dock at a lake could be appropriate. Be conscious of the impact of your surroundings on your productivity.

Do you ever work remotely? What tips do you have for staying focused and productive?

Image credit: Laine Jaremey.

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