Hess Associates

More and more people are working from home – either for themselves, or for an employer who is happy with having them ‘telecommute’.

If you are employed by an organization within driving range, you may be expected to appear at company meetings on occasion, or on a regularly scheduled basis. Whether you are nearby or truly a remote worker, your employer may also have the expectation that you will work regular hours and be available, say from 9 to 5, for phone calls, conference calls, discussions, advice, submission of documents, tables, drawings, plans, charts, whatever.

Even if you are running your own show, you may have clients who expect to find you during regular business hours – unless you are an artist (in any sense of the word), where your time is your own.

So what are some mechanisms for making this work, being efficient, not wasting time, and not being distracted?

1. Have a designated workplace – essentially an office, with a door. Try to restrict everything in this room to work-related materials, and try to avoid clutter.

2. Set regular hours for yourself, even if you are not restricted by employers or clients. Work is work and should be compartmentalized. If your time is your own, you can still set a regular number of hours, even if you prefer working at night. There is nothing wrong with taking time off during the day if you know how many hours you have to work to succeed.

3. To get the feeling of going to work, try to go for a walk after breakfast, either long or short, as you prefer, and then ‘arrive’ at work, go into your office, and close the door. Even if you don’t go out for a walk, perhaps use a tread mill, lift weights, or do something else to energize yourself. Best also to get dressed – anything but pyjamas.

4. Try to limit reading the news on line or catching up on social media to off-hours, as difficult as this may be, as it is really easy to waste a lot of time.

5. Tell your non-business friends that you have regular business hours and gently try to get them to respect this – if they call, ascertain that all is well with them, and ask if you can call back outside of business hours. Most people will be OK with this.

6. Nothing wrong with a coffee break, lunch break, etc. – you would do this within a company anyway – just watch your precious work time.

7. A real temptation for the cooks amongst us is making dinner – there is nothing wrong with throwing something in the oven – perhaps you can do the prep the night before. This is one of the great perks of being home while being at work. Even staring a load of laundry is feasible – but apart from simple cooking, like baking a prepared dish, the more you do, the more you will get used to doing, and the less time you will spend on work. Habits are hard to break, once established.

8. Do you have pre-school aged children? It is impossible to mind children while working. Maybe a well-behaved baby who likes to sleep. If you seriously have to have regular day time working hours, you should consider day care or someone at home during the day, unless you can work out some sort of schedule with a partner.

9. Treat yourself once in a while! Sneak out and go to the great sale you read about, go out for a real lunch, take 15 or 30 minutes out to exercise, meet a friend for lunch or coffee – you worked hard to find a job you could do in the comfort of your great home.

10. Guard your free time! People who work from home often find themselves working too many hours – it is so easy to wander into your office and get carried away. Remember that there is another life outside your office door!