The dream of working from home is becoming a reality for more and more people everyday. Although once home, some may find it more of a nightmare than a dream. The challenges of working from home are different than working in an office and many people are not prepared. Between the family interruptions, barking dogs and the scintillating daytime television shows it can be difficult to stay focused and be the same efficient and productive working machine at home as you were at the office. Here are a few simple things you can do to maintain your efficiency amid the chaos and distractions.
Create Your Space
Just having a quiet place to work can make a huge difference. If possible, it should be someplace where you go only to work and not play. The ideal situation is an actual home office but if space doesn't allow it, someplace away from the main traffic of the house, and out of ear shot of the television, will do as well. Once you have established your work area, treat it as such. Keep it clean and organized. When you were working in an office you probably didn't keep week old coffee cups and stale bread crusts hanging around your desk. Don't do it at your home office either. Clutter and trash is distracting. A clear workplace makes for clear thinking.
Use The Technology Available
Technology has been one of the major driving forces in the work from home revolution. Make sure to take full advantage of it to help you stay organized and get more accomplished. Virtual communications is probably the biggest factor that has allowed so many people to come home from the office. There is of course the whole world wide web, email, instant messages, virtual phones, cell phones, virtual fax, video conferencing, and the list goes on and on. All of these technologies make working from home a lot easier.
Let's take virtual phones for example. A virtual phone number allows you to have just one phone line in the house. You are able to differentiate the business calls from the personal calls with a simple message announcing the call is from your virtual phone number. You can even have the calls forwarded to your cell phone when you are out and about. Most of these virtual phone systems also offer email delivery of your voice and fax messages so you don't have to waste time calling in to retrieve voicemail. Unifying your voice, fax and email messages all into one place frees up time to focus on more important tasks.
For people that are still working for someone else, only now from home, this is probably easier than for those that are working for themselves. Without a boss to be responsible to, it is sometimes difficult to keep on a task until it is finished. Every action item should have a deadline, especially those parts of your job that you don't necessarily enjoy doing.
There are a lot of time management programs out there and most email programs even have task lists. Take advantage of them. One of the great things about these kinds of programs is that they will remind you when your deadline is approaching and will keep popping up in your face until you finish the task. But even if you don't use an electronic task list and reminder system, a simple pen and paper will do. The important thing is to keep your action items written down and stick to your deadlines.
It can be a difficult transition moving from the office space to the home place. We have been conditioned and trained to work in the office environment for a long time. Some may find it difficult to stay efficient and productive within their new found freedom of the home office. However, with a little organization and technology, you can keep your dream of working at home from becoming a nightmare.