Tips for working from home

chairs

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 from Minute MBA. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work from home in my professional role, which has been awesome in terms of work-life balance.

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

I’ve definitely developed my skills and abilities in terms of working from home. In university, I struggled to get homework or assignments done at home. 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, and it was challenging to stay on track.

Over the years, I’ve become much more focused and efficient when working from home, and have found that the following tips have really helped:

  1. Plan your workday – Having the self-discipline map to your day, including laying out tasks and deadlines, along with meetings and calls, can really help you can stay on track. A daily and weekly to-do list helps to put immediate and medium-term deadlines in perspective. There is no better feeling than crossing something off your to-do list!
  2. Now, plan for the things you’ll actually do – If you absolutely love watching Maury at 11 a.m., or if you need to run out to pick up your dry cleaning by 4 in the afternoon, pencil these activities into your schedule too. 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”. Just make sure you update your calendar so others know you’re unavailable, and advise team members you won’t be as reachable at a certain time.  Otherwise, you risk veering off track if you’re suddenly enthralled by an episode of House Hunters International, and may miss a deadline or fall behind on a task.
  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 and owners, along with timing of next steps are spelled out clearly – bullets and lots of white space help! Picking up the phone and having a brief chat (gasp!) is another way to get to the bottom of a question or to discuss next steps.
  4. Pick your environment based on your work – I find I can be more creative, efficient or analytical in different settings. For example, quiet places are better for working on financial documents 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 (above) could be appropriate. I’ve found that being conscious of the impact of my surroundings on my productivity has allowed me to love working out of the office as I get stuff done.

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

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