Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PJs to yoga pants: Creative tips for working at home

At some point we've all thought about it - how free and amazing we'd feel. No more traffic. No more getting tossed side to side on the train. Ah, the comforts of working from home. You've been secretly dreaming about it. You've imagined it was you in their slippers... Then one day it happens. You've started your own business. Your position allows you to telecommute. You're a writer and you need your own space. However it happened, here you are, in the place that you've wanted to be. Day 1 is magical. Day 2 is relaxing and calm. But by the third day the spark starts to fizzle. You miss the bustle of coworkers. You're hardly making it out of the bed. Somehow you're either doing too much or you're next to doing nothing at all. So what now?

Here's some tips to get you back in your saddle.

1. Remember to pull back the covers. As tempting as it may be, do not try to work from your bed. The birds will start chirping. A breeze will blow in. Before you know it there's your head on the pillow. Does this mean you need a fancy office? I mean, if you can make that happen, awesome; if you can't, just make sure you have your own space. Depending on your work, it might be a desk and a chair. Maybe it's a big lazy boy with a laptop and a tray by your side. Whatever it is, make sure that it's set up for work.

2. Come up with a new morning ritual. No matter how many commercials you've seen, don't stay in your PJs all day. Get up and take a shower. Let the water run over your face. Eat some breakfast and get dressed. No need to get all spiffied up, but dress knowing that someone could knock on your door. Stay comfortable but bump it up from when you're home sick.

3. Establish a solid routine. Your schedule may change everyday, but make sure to lay a solid foundation. Dedicate time to each task in the day.

4. Make sure that you can't see the laundry. This tip is very important. If you see it, then it's hard to ignore. You'll be tempted to get it out of the way. If this is a bug that can bite you, set aside time at the end of your day. That's your new cleanup and cooking time. That is when the housework begins. Unless you're getting paid to fold sweaters, steps away from the basket of clothes.

5. Let your friends know you mean business. Personal calls are important, but be careful when you're working from home. Let your friends know the best time to reach you and give yourself a reasonable limit.

6. Do something a tad unconventional. Take advantage of your new situation. Throw on a little music. Take a few breaks and blow bubbles. Do something you couldn't do in your office or cubicle. You get the chance to create your own culture - your own unique and productive environment. You get to decide what that is.

7. Take a little walk after lunch. It's important to keep yourself moving. Get out there and smell a few roses. It'll help put it all in perspective. It'll also save your legs from falling asleep.

8. Create your own office community. When you're out for your walk, poke your head in the local coffee shop. Have breakfast there from time to time. Make sure you have some interraction.

9. When you can, take a few field trips. Hit up a few networking events. Set up a few regular lunch dates. Again it's important to stay alert and connected. If you have days when you just get can't get out, sign up for a online webinar. You'll not only connect, but learn something new in the process.

10. Be careful with Twitter and Facebook (unless it's for your business). While it's great for small chats through the day, make sure you're still getting work done.

11. Remember that it's all about balance. In the end, it IS fun and exciting. It's a whole world that you get to create. Just make sure to stay productive and focused. And while you're at it make some time to let loose!

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