I’ve been working from home – telecommuting, as the technical term says it – for the past 6 or 7 years now. Freelancing gave me the opportunity to work while having an active presence in my family’s life. I think of telecommuting as killing two birds with one stone. I’m able to earn and take care of my family both at the same time.
But telecommuting isn’t all rainbows and cupcakes. While many telecommuters and freelancers say working remotely upped their productivity, it was a significant challenge for me. Aside from that, many issues seem to affect my work jive. My first years’ telecommuting was the hardest. These years were also my lesson-rich years – lessons I learned through experiences and tips given to me by fellow telecommuters.
From these learnings, I garnered my five golden nuggets for productivity when telecommuting, the five golden rules that shaped my working structure as it is now.
- It’s best if you have your own workspace at home.
I’ve experienced working around the house and having my own home office, and I can say that the latter works the best. For one, distractions are aplenty when you have kids. They’ll always approach you, ask a lot of questions, and let you settle their many petty differences when they see you around even if you tell them you are working. However, my home office gave me the privacy (the peace and quiet, too!) that I need to work.
- Set your working schedule.
Yes, you can always fire up your computer and start working the moment you get out of bed. But where’s the balance in that? One thing I miss about working in an office is I get to clock in and clock out of work. At the end of the day, I can always leave my unfinished tasks behind and go home. Taking off my office uniform meant taking off my working persona, too. But that isn’t the case when working from home.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you cannot have the same structure as you had when you were still working a 9-to-5 job. As a matter of fact, it is best if you set up a schedule even if you’re telecommuting. This way, you’ll be able to keep up the balance between your work and family lives. Once you’re done for the day, leave your home office with your work behind to tackle for the next day. Which brings me to…
- Preparing as if you’re really going to the office is a great work mode booster.
This is a recent addition to my five golden rules because I’ve just been doing this lately [courtesy of my husband]. Working from home for me was being in my pajamas with an unwashed face [and teeth!] and my uncombed hair in a sloppy bun. I was productive, yes, but I was also struggling not to nod off by mid-morning.
Then my husband suggested I change things a bit. And what a big difference these little changes made! Taking a bath, brushing my teeth, donning on a different set of clean clothes [not necessarily office clothes] and even putting a little makeup on became my work jump starters.
And I haven’t looked back since.
- Focus on what you finished, not on what you were not able to do.
Working from home means you don’t have some co-worker spying on you or your manager looking at you through suspicious eyes. It also means the temptation to do things you wouldn’t usually do in an office during working hours is also excellent. How many of us have gotten lost in the maze of Facebook and Pinterest then realize at the end of the day that there were tasks we weren’t able to do?
However, why not set your eyes on the things that you were able to do even with Pinterest waving straight at your face instead of focusing on the things you could have done but didn’t [which only leads to depression]? Celebrate your little wins while striving to do better.
- Unplug and reconnect physically.
When your work schedule’s done, make it a point to really leave your workspace like you would a conventional office. Once you close its doors, it means to stop thinking about anything related to work. You have a life outside your job. Your husband/wife, kids, and even your pets are in that life. Reconnect with them physically. Don’t let your work steal you away from the people who matter to you.
Telecommuting and your family life don’t have to clash with each other. If you set the right boundaries then, working from home might just work out for you as it did mine.