4 Tips for Home-Office Productivity

June 17, 2010

Image via apartmenttherapy.com

Having a laptop and an Internet connection means that professionals can virtually take their offices anywhere they go. In fact, I am writing this post from an airplane over New Mexico. Telecommuting or working from home is a blessing, no commute, no uncomfortable dress code and you can be with children and pets all day. However, it can be hard to adjust to a home-office and separate your work from the rest of your life. Use these four tips below to set a routine and guidelines for your day and get more done. 1. Create a work environment When I started working from home more than a year ago, my home-office was the kitchen table, or the sofa, or the coffee shop down the street. Believe me, hunching over the coffee table to type is a not an ideal solution. If there's an extra room or a nook in your house, set that up as an office, or at least dedicate a desk or table to work. An attractive screen or bookshelf room-divider are great solutions for carving out a home-office when space is limited, but it's best to be able to close a door to the rest of the house, be comfortable and feel as though you are at work. Keep the office decor simple and functional. Don't work in a space that doubles as a laundry-folding station or a storage area for kids toys, as these reminders of household chores will only distract you. Invest in a comfortable office chair, printer, file cabinet and other supplies that will make work easier. Don't forget to save your receipts for home-office supplies for tax purposes. 2. Unplug Checking e-mail and voicemail can become an addiction. Set a schedule for checking e-mail and voicemail messages. You can even let clients and colleagues know that you check messages a few times a day, or that you are available for phone calls during certain hours. Turn the ringer down on land lines and turn cell phones off for a few hours each day. If you use social media for professional purposes, then set up a HootSuite account. This web-based application will allow you to check-in to the Twitter and Facebook realms once or twice a day, reply to any messages and even schedule future posts or tweets to be sent throughout the day. To avoid wasting time on web browsing, unplug your Internet cable or deactivate your wireless signal while working. Another way to tame Internet wanderlust is to keep track of hours on a spreadsheet - simply writing down a start and end time can keep you on track. 3. Use breaks as rewards In the beginning of the day, set up a goal to finish a task or work so many hours, after which you earn a short break. This way you can work uninterrupted and squash any nagging thoughts such as, "I have to water the plants," or "I need to do the dishes," - with the promise of a quick break. Keeping the downtime minimal, from 15-30 minutes is best. Don't just focus on chores or errands, use that break time to squeeze in some healthy rewarding activities such as a quick yoga routine or a walk around the block. Two 15- to 30-minute breaks a day can create a better sense of focus when you sit back down at the computer to work. 4. Sit down and eat a meal One of the biggest challenges to working from home is the fridge and snacking. To prevent frequent trips to the kitchen, I advocate sitting down and eating lunch away from the desk. Whether it's a sandwich prepared at home or a trip to a local market or lunch spot - getting away from the desk and focusing on what you are eating will improve your performance. If you are checking e-mail and eating at the same time, you are losing the connection between your brain and your tummy. Multitasking while eating makes it easier to over-eat or to feel unfulfilled shortly after your meal because you were not focusing on what you'd consumed. *Link to Apartment Therapy post with above image

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