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Become a Master at Working from Home

Distractions abound when you're working from home, whether it's the dog, the pile of dirty dishes or your mother-in-law on the phone. It can also be difficult to motivate yourself when you're in your pajamas and working from the kitchen table. We solve those problems and more with the following list of to-dos when you only have to commute down the hallway.
A high flying business woman holding a laptop.

Working from home is not an easy task, and it's not for everyone. The distractions can become overwhelming. You have to be disciplined, organized, and focused to make it work. If you're going to work from home, you need to treat it like any other job and be professional. Here are some tips on how to become a master at working from home:

  1. Have the right equipment. Make sure you have a computer, phone, printer, scanner and a backup system. If your company doesn’t provide one, hire a tech company to help when you run into trouble.
  2. Have a designated work space. Working at the kitchen table won’t cut it. Make sure you have a desk, file cabinet and office supplies.
  3. Organize your workspace. Create a calendar and to-do list to stay on track.
  4. Set office hours and establish a schedule. Unless you don’t mind being contacted at all hours of the night and weekend, be sure your clients and employees know when you are available so your work doesn’t interfere with your personal life.
  5. Avoid home distractions. If you have children at home, arrange child care so you can work uninterrupted. Lock pets in their crate when you begin work if that’s what you would do if you were leaving the house. And don’t do the laundry while you’re working, or let friends or neighbors take advantage of you because you are home. Say "no" and stick to your schedule.
  6. Take breaks. Breaks help you mentally and physically. Don’t sit at your desk all day without stretching, getting a snack or maybe taking a short walk around the block. You’ll be more productive.
  7. Take your work out of the house every once in a while. Go to your local coffee house or library to to work, or set up face-to-face meetings rather than having conversations on the phone. It does a body good to shake things up a little.
  8. Exercise and eat right. Staying fit and healthy is important for everyone, but is more difficult for telecommuters. The refrigerator is so close, and the walk to the office is so short that many begin to have weight and health problems shortly after this life change. Keep healthy snacks in the house, drink plenty of water, and make time to exercise.
  9. Keep your office space professional and clean. Especially if you Skype with bosses or clients!
  10. Stay connected. Make yourself available by email, phone, instant message or Skype. Over communicating is better than under communicating. Be vocal about being away from the office and how they can still get ahold of you if they need to.
  11. Dress the part. It might be tempting to work in your pajamas, but it’s easier to get distracted with household chores and laziness that way. When you are dressed for success, your mind is on business. Sometimes that just means taking a shower and putting on some makeup and a clean outfit.
  12. Make sure your phone has a mute button. It never fails – you’re on a conference call and the baby is crying, your kids are fighting with each other, the doorbell rings and the dog starts barking. Having a mute button will save you!
  13. Have a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Have a signal so your family knows they are not to disturb you unless there is an emergency. This works especially well when you are on a deadline.

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