Working from home has some fantastic benefits. It also has some brutal pitfalls. A lack of boundaries, accountability, and self-discipline can make it difficult for the virtual worker to get important things done. Here are 5 ways you can increase your results.
For more than 20 years I’ve worked from a home office. I’m not alone. Twenty-one percent of self-employed people consider home their main office. One in five other types of employees work from home at least once a week. [source]
There are so many benefits of working from home.
- Save money. You (or your company) saves money on office space, transportation, utilities, even food for lunches.
- Time with family. I arrange my time so I can go to my kids’ sporting events and pick them up from school.
- Less stress and fatigue. Studies show that those who work at home are happier and less stressed than their office counterparts. [source]
It’s not all rosy, however. I face a lot of challenges in working at home. I have lazy spells when I want to do anything but work. More often, I am always on call, responding to emails first thing in the morning and late at night. Neither of these ways of working are healthy.
5 Ways to Increase Your Results When Working from Home
- Define work by results, not busyness. When my kids were little I often watched them for a few hours during the day while my wife was out. That’s a great benefit. I loved it. But it’s also easy to allow kids, house work, errands, meetings, associations, etc. make you busy. You can become blinded by busyness. You feel productive but you’re not achieving work results.
- Create weekly objectives and stick to them. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important now, this week. Too often I lowered my goals to reduce the tension I felt as I did not get my objectives done. Instead, put these objectives into your calendar and make sure the rest of life flows around them.
- Shut the door. “I use the door to my home office as a sign – for me and my family – that I’m working,” says Rick Knopf. “When the door is shut, I’m at work.” There are many distractions at home, having physical boundaries helps us focus on our work. It also can help us contain our work to that space so that it doesn’t bleed into our “off” time.
- Set office hours. I love the flexibility of working from home, but there’s also a downside, my work can easily flow to be 24 hour a day. An email from a customer pings in at 8:00 PM. I open my laptop on the kitchen counter to answer it and help the person. “It will only take a minute,” I tell myself. Ninety minutes later I’ve worked much of the evening instead of relaxing and focusing on my family.
- Get out of the house. I do creative work, mostly thinking and writing. My home isn’t always the best place for that for me. I need the hustle and bustle of Starbucks or a seat with a view of the street below to spark my creativity. Try the library, a 5 star hotel lobby, a coffee shop, or pub or restaurant with a cozy fire.
The great part of working at home is the flexibility it brings to the rest of your life. However, it takes planning and self-discipline to keep this flexibility from interfering with your work results.
Only you are in charge of your time working at home. What are you going to do differently this week to increase your results?
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