It's easy to get distracted or lose sight of your professional goals when you work remotely, especially if you've been doing it for some time. Telecommuters need to be particularly self-motivated because no one's directly looking over their shoulders.
Here are some tips and tricks to keep you on track and at your best, no matter where you do your work:
- Get dressed for work. You don't have to put on a suit, but wearing something a little more polished than pajamas should put you in the right frame of mind and may make you more productive.
- Make sure you have a dedicated workspace. Even if it's just a desk in a corner of the dining room, keep that one area just for your work. Sure, your commute may be all of ten seconds, but you are still on your way to your "office."
- Get comfortable. There's nothing like eyestrain from poor lighting or a backache from sitting in the wrong kind of chair to decrease working stamina. Make sure you're set up to work ergonomically.
- But don't get too comfortable; reduce clutter and minimize distractions. Don't place your desk near the widescreen TV, for example, or next to the fridge if these are your biggest temptations or distractions. Also try to keep your work area neat so it will be a pleasure to be there (or at least as much of one as possible).
- Structure your time. If you have the luxury of deciding your work hours, carve out--and stick to--a schedule that works best for you; some people are larks, others owls.
- If you have young children at home, don't try to juggle both parenting and work at the same time. Being close to loved ones is one of the benefits of telecommuting. However, it's just not possible to be 100% productive while also being 100% focused on your child. Consider child care (in home or out), if only for limited hours, or work when your child in sleeping (nap time or at night), if your schedule allows.
- Set daily and weekly goals. Picture what you are going to work on for the day or list what you want to accomplish. Have an overall weekly goal or two written down on your calendar to help you keep your focus.
- Make sure you take breaks. Office workers may take water cooler breaks and have regular hallway chats. You should also get up for about 5-10 minutes every hour or so to protect your body and recharge your batteries. Just don’t overdo it, of course.