Nomad worker. Teleworker. Work-at-homer. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the fear you and your company both share: if you’re working from home will you still be able to get it all done? When former Internet giant, Yahoo!, pulled the plug on their telecommuting policy, some of us scratched our heads, wondering if working from home was actually a bad idea in the first place.

Of course, it’s not a bad idea. It actually makes perfect economical sense. No extra expenses for your company. No commuting costs for you. Everyone wins, as long as you can stay productive when working at home. So here’s how to do that.

Anticipate distractions

There will be all kinds of snowballs thrown your way throughout the day while working at home. Dogs need walking. Kitty wants to play. Household chores stare you in the face. Then, there’s the friend who’s between jobs that always wants you to accompany him or her to a long lunch, the park, or Target.

It’s important that you deal with distractions by anticipating them and planning on overcoming them. Walking your dogs and playing with cats before you start your day and at lunch can lead them to taking naps while you’re working at home. Chores can always wait. There is very little you need to do around the house immediately that can’t wait until you’re done with your workday. If you can’t stand to be in the same room as your dusty furniture, head out to a coffee shop, where you’ll be less tempted to wipe and disinfect your surroundings. As for the friend who wants you to waste your day with them, remind them that you are, in fact, working—at an actual job.

Make some space for your home office

It’s tough to work from the couch, laptop resting on your knees, kitty pawing at your stomach, grapes slightly out of reach. Besides not being an ergonomically sound position to work in, couches are designed for relaxing, and that’s exactly where your mind goes when you sit on one. A proper work desk and supportive chair are a far better option. Space permitting, you can also add things like a second monitor, a printer, or an external mouse or keyboard for your laptop to make everything convenient and comfortable.

Don’t forget to step outside for a few minutes throughout your day to stretch your legs and feel the fresh air on your face. It’s one of the perks of working from home, so enjoy it.

Regulate your working hours

When you work from home, your work hours should be no different than those you would keep at the office. In fact, if you simply schedule your day this way, your productivity level will increase straightway. It helps to get into a routine. Try to start work, take breaks and lunch, and clock out at the same time everyday. This may sound boring at first, but it helps your mind and body prepare for work and relaxation, so you can do one without worrying about when to make time for the other. It also helps set expectations at work, as to when you’ll be available—and your workmates will appreciate that.

Stay in touch

It’s important to always be connected and available whilst working at home, just as you would be if you were in the office. No one likes to wonder where you are or when they’ll hear from you again. Keep the lines of communications open. Modern technology makes it easy to email, IM, or audio/video chat from any device. If you’re working with people across time zones, be sure to schedule regular meetings to catch up and take full advantage of the hours that overlap.

Audio over visual

I know it’s tempting to put the news on in the background and feel like you’re not watching TV. You’re getting updates on important news, right? The reality is, you’re still watching TV. Engaging news segments and breaking coverage is designed to get your attention. And that pulls you away from your workday.

Try listening to news radio instead. It’s less distracting, and you can still get the news you crave. One of the other big perks of working from home is that you can free yourself from your headphones and jam out to your favorite tunes on proper speakers. Take full advantage of this. Music’s a great motivator.


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