Stay Productive (And Sane) While Working From Home

More and more, working from home has become the norm for many people. Whether you’re freelancing or telecommuting from a full-time job, you really can be just as productive, if not more, than a cubicle dweller. Just remember this advice for succeeding on the home front:

• Start your day off right. You may not have to work a rigid 9-to-5 schedule when working at home, but take your job seriously: “Report” to your desk, wherever it is, at an appropriate time ready to work. Some experts recommend showering and dressing as if you’re going to the office to get into the right frame of mind.

• Understand what your organization needs. Working from home means you won’t get as much direct feedback and instruction from your boss throughout the day. Get clear expectations from your manager so you’ll be working on the right tasks and the right schedule. Set short-term and long-range goals that align with your organization’s objectives.

• Establish firm boundaries. Family members and friends should know when you’re working and realize that you can’t be interrupted for trivial reasons. Keep your door closed (if you have one), and let the answering machine pick up the phone if your spouse or child doesn’t get to it. You’ll find out about emergencies soon enough; don’t get distracted by irrelevant chitchat.

• Stay connected with people. Don’t let them forget you back at HQ. Check in frequently with emails and phone calls to let people know you’re on top of things. Visit the office when you can, and maintain your friendships with co-workers. You want to be thought of as a full member of the team, wherever you are.

• Take breaks when you need to. Don’t work yourself to exhaustion trying to prove you’re just as productive at home as you would be in a cubicle. Although you shouldn’t start a home renovation project in the middle of writing a report, there’s nothing wrong with spending a few minutes emptying the dishwasher or putting laundry away to clear your mind and relax a little.

• Evaluate your progress regularly. Keep track of your workload and your goals so you can review how much you’re getting done and whether you need to make any adjustments. As your own supervisor, you’ll need to keep an eye on what you’re accomplishing so you don’t fall behind.