October 3, 2014

6 Tips to Successfully Work From Home

It’s been a little over a year since I began my work-at-home gig! I can now say that I have fallen into a routine, and have learned a few things that have made the transition from working in an office setting to home-office work for me.

You are probably thinking that working from home must be so simple. Well, I would agree that it is pretty ideal, but you also have to be a self-initiator and responsible to make this option work successfully, in my opinion. I too believe that my years as a graduate student made this transition smooth since the level of accountability is about the same in both scenarios.

Get Dressed: It may sound ideal to work all day in your pajamas; and I have been guilty of doing it myself more than I would like to admit, but it is best to have some kind of morning routine before actually delving into your work. A morning routine – taking a shower, brushing one’s teeth is not only good so that you feel ready for the day, it too is good in the case of an emergency!

Honestly, I can’t make these stories up. Last year in January or so Prince started acting a little abnormal – eating a lot of toilet paper and tissues after we had boarded him for a few days. Long story short, one morning he was having multiple vomit bouts and heaving. It got so bad that his whole body was trembling – it was horrible. Now, this was in the days that I would honestly roll out of bed and stumble to my desk. When I say I looked like “who shot John” - O-M-G! I was wearing absolutely no make-up, thank goodness I had brushed my teeth, because my hair was thrown on top of my head and we aren’t even going to discuss my attire. Without thinking, I swooped up Prince and darted to the veterinarian’s office. I must have apologized to the vet tech and veterinarian 100 times for my appearance; I was so embarrassed!

So my lessons for all those potential work-from-home people -- wear workout/casual attire that matches, tame your hair, and brush your teeth. You are welcome!

Make A To-Do List:This may be a no-brainer but I such a stickler for my to-do list! This is a good suggestion whether you work in an office or at your home.

I am still somewhat traditional and prefer to hand write a to-do list over using technology; now Google, Microsoft Outlook and even one's cell phones have applications for  list making. Overall, I believe making a list of things one hopes to accomplish provides some guidance on what needs to get done, but I also use it as encouragement. Encouragement in that I like to admire what things I have done when a daunting project is next on my list. I remind myself of everything that has been accomplished to provide some motivation to keep my train moving!

Have a Designated Work Area:Working from your home may present some challenges with competing interests (e.g., the tv, couch, bed, and/or fridge). It is really important that one establishes some space allocated for working.

In both of our residences, my office is within our master bedroom but a little ways away from the actual bed and tv! Our Toledo home is perfect as there is a doorway that closes off the bedroom from my actual office area. The master bedroom was actually the whole second floor! In Athens, my workspace is located in a medium sized nook by a few windows. Our bedroom and my office furniture were all purchased through Room&Board, so match nicely!

While in graduate school I did not have a separate work area in my apartment, and often times was found completing a few assignments on the couch or on my bed. Back then I frequented the library for hours on hours, so it was not a problem, but I would not recommend that set-up for those working from their home. 

Eat Lunch (and Snacks) Away from Designated Word Area: I have only recently begun abiding by this rule after doing the Whole30 program, and see the benefits. Eating should be a time in which one stops, takes a break, and really enjoys the food they are consuming. Our country is overweight because of inactivity and over-eating, much that occurs when eating mindlessly.

For the last month or so I have been at least carving out 30 minutes in my workday to stop and eat lunch. I do get a one-hour lunch break which I don't talk daily, but I at least make myself stop for 30 minutes.

This time also allows me to take a break from my computer and chair. Sometimes Prince and I go for a short walk or throw the ball around inside.Overall, this time acts as rejuvenation and has improved my work productivity. 

Monitor Breaks & Set A Schedule:This tip is closely related to Tips #2 and #4, but also a little more. So besides making a to-do list and taking a lunch break, I believe it is also important to monitor and/or schedule little breaks throughout your day as you would in an office setting. Some are unable to monitor their "breaks" which compromises one's productivity.

Each morning, I review my daily calendar and decide when I will plan to eat lunch. Many days this is also scheduled with Coach Kemp's schedule as he tries to come home during his lunch break. I too plan a few additional break activities like mentioned above. One day, I may decide to walk Prince to the mailbox (it is a trek - trust me), or I may decide that I am going to call my mom or a friend to chat!

Get In-Person Time with Co-Workers: Moving to Southeast Ohio has placed a little wrench in my ability to get in-person time with my co-workers! It was really convenient living in Toledo since a vast majority of us lived in that area. Last year we would plan Friday happy hour events and attended many professional development seminars as a group which was really nice. These opportunities allow you an opportunity to really to know those you work with. Let's face it, whether you work from home or in an office  , you are not always able to get to know people while at work!

Question of the Day: What do you like about your work situation?


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