This is a guest post by David from Money Choices
When I see news stories about commuters and their traffic woes, I smile. Not because I’m sicko but because I know what its like to be stuck in traffic, weaving through the lanes, paying for petrol and paying tolls. For almost two years I drove in and out of Sydney from 80 km away traveling 3 hours per day going to and from my 9 hour office job. That’s commonplace and I know lots of people drive longer and have been doing it for years (even decades!).
Having said all that, transitioning into working from home is extremely convenient as well as cost-effective. Working at home does present some challenges, and the following 10 suggestions will help you get things done, especially if you are new to working from home or just considering making the move to a job that gives you that freedom.
1. Set aside a designated workspace – Ideally, a separate room should be used as a home office, but when this is not feasible, even a corner of a room that can be closed and that has no other use during the working day is sufficient. If you need some inspiration for your workspace then I’d suggest you have a leaf through these workstation setups.
2. Dress and groom yourself for work – Working in pyjamas or a bathrobe is not a good idea, as you do not feel you are really working. Make sure you are fully dressed and that you have showered and shaved as necessary before starting work.
3. Keep the door closed – Close the door, figuratively as well as literally, when you are working. Your children and spouse, and even your pet, should not be allowed to enter the room when you are at work, just as they would not have barged into your office uninvited when you worked outside the home.
4. Use the right equipment – Buy as good an office desk and chair as you can afford, and the same goes for any computer or other communications equipment you use to get the job done. You will be more comfortable and feel more professional, and the extra money you spend will be well outweighed by your increased productivity.
5. Work a full day, but pause to refresh – Set aside certain hours for work and make sure you are working every business day during those hours – but get up and take a break to refresh yourself between blocks of work. Whatever suits you most but take a 10 minute rest every hour, or a 5 minute rest every half hour,. It’ll allows you to recharge yourself, to grab a glass of water or a healthy snack, and to start the next block of work off on a positive note.
6. Outsource when possible – Working at home, even if you work for yourself and by yourself, does not mean you have to do everything yourself. It is easy to outsource routine tasks, even to the point of hiring a virtual assistant for a couple of hours every day or week. If you need tech support and are not technically inclined, this can be handled for you easily and simply via remote services that are easily accessed on a pay-as-you-go basis. Asides from the obvious places such as Elance, there are new outsourcing websites that are much more specific to the type of tasks needed, i.e. rather than go to a general job site go to voices.com to find voice over talent. You can do your own searches depending on your needs or leave a few suggestions in the comments.
7. Set up a daily and weekly schedule – Ideally, try to do the tasks that require the most thought and concentration at the time that is most comfortable for you to work. For instance, if you work best in the morning, do your creative work or client contact work then, and save the more routine work for later in the day – and stick to that pattern with a schedule that is as fixed as possible. Also, set aside certain days for certain routine tasks, such as Friday for balancing your online bank account. I use good-ole Apple iCal to manage my schedule.
8. Eat well – Make sure your breakfast and lunch give you the nutrition and energy you need to feel and perform your best during your workday. Check out my friend Melanie Thomassian’s healthy eating blog for excellent advice and ideas. While having a healthy snack during a short break can be energising, its best to avoid eating and drinking while working.
9. Look for freebies that help you keep on track – Many free open source software programs are available that help you organise your schedule and manage projects. Take a couple of hours every week or two to search for and download programs as well as to find websites that can assist you in managing your workload. I can recommend Basecamp for project management but there are some decent free alternatives.
10. Don’t overdo it – I fall into the trap of staying up late working on things even though it leaves me zapped the next day. The thing is, you wouldn’t stay until 11:30pm if you worked in an office, you’d leave with everyone else and start with everyone else. So, don’t work all night or start too early in the morning.
David has years of experience working remotely from home. He writes for Money Choices, an impartial website offering free home loan comparison and credit card comparison services.
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