Working at home can either be the solution to all your work-life balance woes — or the beginning of the end of your productivity. Here’s how to put the “work” back in the WAH.
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1. Set a schedule.
Unless your work requires it, you don’t necessarily need to stick to the old 9 to 5, but you should have a regular schedule to work from, if you want to accomplish things in a timely fashion and not wind up working at midnight. It’s also a good idea to plan to get started a little earlier than coworkers or clients who go into the physical office. That way, you’re less likely to wake up to a bunch of surprise emails and fires that need putting out.
2. Make sure your technology is up to snuff.
Most of us have moved on from the days of dial-up (or worse; stealing internet from the neighbors). But if you’re going to work at home and get stuff done, you need to make extra certain that your technology is work-ready.
“To work from home, you need a way to get to your work done online,” writes Elizabeth Phillips at Levo League. “Look for the traditional cable Internet providers, fiber optic providers like Google Fiber or Verizon FiOs in select areas of the country or satellite internet if you’re more rural.”
3. Minimize distractions.
A lot of folks start off their time working from home thinking that they’ll watch talk shows while they’re doing busy work. That’s a great way to stretch out your day and decrease the quality of your work. If you want to take a TV break, do it when you can step away from your desk entirely.
4. Carve out some heads-down time.
Many managers like to be able to check in with their at-home workers to make sure they’re really getting stuff done and not spending the day reorganizing their spare room or catching up on laundry. Still, if your boss checks in with you constantly, you’re less likely to be able to do your real, actual work. Try to arrange a deal where you commit to having X number of things done per day — or better yet, specific assignments — and check in at assigned times. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting pulled off a project for a tug on the electronic leash.
5. Declare a stopping point.
Once you’re in the swing of working at home, you might find that the problem isn’t getting stuff done, but rather knowing when to stop. Figure out a good time for your work day to be “over,” and try to stick to it. Working at home can turn from a perk to a punishment if you don’t decide when work stops and life begins.
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