I threw up my hands in defeat and searched out a flexible part-time job in October. (I thought T + E would be here in May or so, and I wanted to stay home with them. They weren’t home. And they still aren’t.)
I was really happy to learn my position could be done mostly from home. And my supervisor recommended I come into the office as little as possible? Well, okay! Then I was given my first assignments. And I got nervous.
I love jumping from task to task. I love doing lots of little things for a short amount of time as opposed to one big project all day long. It was fairly easy to focus in an office staring at a wall. It was harder to focus at home looking out the window.
I asked other work-from-home friends for advice, and I’ve picked up a few things along the way. It’s April now, so go ahead and calculate… Yes, it took me about six months to hit my stride. So hang in there! Here are five ideas for successfully working from home.
1. Schedule the time you intend to work. Though my day is fairly fluid, it generally looks the same. Exercise, errands, and lunch in the morning. Work in the afternoon until my husband gets home. This changes depending on the amount of work I have, of course. I set a mental goal to sit down at my desk by a certain time each day. By doing this, I don’t find myself starting projects or going places I hadn’t planned.
2. Play non-distracting music. I have always listened to music when I wrote in college, and it’s carried over to writing for work. I didn’t feel comfortable playing music when I worked in an office, and I missed it terribly. I really do believe it helps my focus. But the trick is to choose music that’s not distracting. So, for me, no to One Direction and yes to instrumental music. (A post with my recommendations is to come!) Keep yourself from constantly changing the song on whatever player — iTunes, Pandora, Spotify — you choose.
3. Drink lots of water. I drink water, because otherwise I’d be snacking. But really, water increases your energy, reduces your tiredness, prevents headaches, and keeps off hunger. I’ve been prone to all of these when working. Staying hydrated has truly helped.
4. Use Toggl. I’m an hourly employee now, as opposed to salaried, so the time sheet is my friend. My agency requires me to record when I started working each day and when I stopped, taking note of the “breaks” I took. I had scraps of paper with times all over my desk until a friend told me about Toggl, a free mobile and/or desktop stopwatch to track your hours and clients. I’ve only started using it this month, and it’s been great!
5. Buy attractive, appropriate home office supplies. I enjoy my work more if I have pretty things to use. And I work longer if I have the supplies I need. Target’s one dollar section is key for this, since no one is giving me money to buy office supplies. I’ve found myself using page flags, sticky notes, a stapler, white out, notepads, a notebook, file folders, and highlighters most often. My page flags, sticky notes, notepads, notebooks, and file folders are all from the one dollar section!
Now, what ideas to you have to share? I think I still have a ways to go before I’m ultra productive!
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