OK, well maybe not everything, but after spending a substantial part of the past year working in my home office, I’ve found that a lot of the “work-from-home” time management advice out there should be refined. Here’s how I would elaborate three common work-from-home tips I hear frequently:
1. Set Regular Hours
Yes, it’s important to define your work hours, lest your work day consume your entire life, however, those hours don’t necessarily need to be the same that they’d be if you were working a “traditional” job. If you find it difficult to start work at 8, break at noon, and end at 5, try something different. I get my best work done in the morning, so I work from 7:30 until around 1, and then take a break for a few hours before starting back up again around 4. That schedule varies wildly based on the day of the week. The key is to keep “work” time separate from “play” time. When and how you choose to schedule those times is completely up to you.
Working from home can be extremely isolating, but the word “networking” sounds so formal. You don’t need to go to a conference, or join a weekly networking group and wear a sticker name tag to converse with others. Just talk to people (Facebook doesn’t count). Invite a friend out for lunch and talk about your current projects. If you see the same people in line at Starbucks every day, find out what they do.
3. Define Your Work Space
Again, this advice sounds good in theory, but in reality, being forced to work in one spot all the time is one of the detriments to a traditional desk job. A change of scenery can help keep your focus sharp. It’s important to have an office as a starting point and as a place to keep all of your files, but if you get restless, move somewhere else. Sometime I’ll work on my balcony, or at the kitchen table, or in the living room. My only two rules are that I never leave work out when I’m done unless it’s in the office, and that I never ever bring work to bed. Bedtime is for relaxing.
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