Working from home can provide a rewarding and flexible lifestyle. In fact, to most it sounds ideal - no daily commute, no boss to report to, no cubicles filled with annoying co-workers, and you can eat lunch when you want, for as long as you like. You can even take a nap if you want to!
Unfortunately the biggest complaint from people who work at home ... they don't actually get any work done. According to one study, only 14 percent of people who work at home put in a full eight hours ... the rest put in three hours or less.
If you're reading this and you're currently working from home .. well, 'er odds are you probably fall into the three hours or less percentile. If so, here are some suggestions from WIRED on how to change that and successfully get your job done.
1. Switch into work mode.
It's hard to feel like a productive professional with flannel jammies, fuzzy slippers, and bed head. Get up, take a shower, and dress like you're actually going to work (because, hey -- you are). I vouch for this one ... I've done the pj thing and it doesn't work. I now get up everyday at 6am, shower and get dressed immediately.
2. Separate your workspace.
If your computer is in the living room, you're more likely to succumb to the Xbox, Oprah, or the bong. Section off an area of the house, preferably a room with a door, to be your home office. Spend time there only when you're working.
3. Firewall your attention.
Let's face it: You're not going to get that presentation together when the kids want lunch, the dog needs a walk, and your sister-in-law keeps phoning about your nephew's birthday party. Get a babysitter, turn off the ringer, and shut the door to signal you're off-limits.
4. Create small deadlines.
An entire day of working at home stretches before you, and it feels like you've got all the time in the world... why not watch a little M*A*S*H? Avoid procrastination by setting mini deadlines -- for example, must finish revising this document by 10:30 am so I can be at the gym by 11 -- to break up your day and instill urgency in your tasks.
5. Limit email to specific times.
When you're working by yourself, email starts to feel like your lifeline to the rest of humanity. As a result it can quickly take over your day and trash your productivity. To keep this from happening, only check your email at scheduled times, like when you start work, 10:30am, 2:30pm, and at the end of the day. In between, turn off your email program and get to work.
Working from home has changed my life (and it can change yours too) ... but it did take some getting use to. Truth is it isn't as 'flexible' as it sounds. But then again, that's why they still call it 'work.'