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by Nick Usborne
Working from home is a dream for many people. It sure beats being stuck in a cubicle all day. And the commute time is hard to beat as you walk from the kitchen to your office.
But working at home also brings its own set of challenges.
It can be hard to stay focused on your work. And it can get lonely.
I have been working from home for most of the time for over 20 years now. Over that period I have noticed ways in which to make my work life both productive and pleasurable.
I dont always follow my own rules. But I try.
Rule 1. Set yourself a schedule
Nobody else will do this for you. You have no manager or boss. No time sheet to complete.
So you need to set yourself a time when you start work at the beginning of the day. And a time when you end.
Then give yourself some reasonable breaks. Its tempting to take either too much or too little time away from your desk. Try to be formal about this. Give yourself a short break mid-morning and a decent lunch break. And another short break during the afternoon.
Sometimes your schedule will be shot to pieces by travel or sudden family commitments. But use you schedule as your default each day, and stick to it as firmly as you can.
Rule 2. Find yourself a place to work
Some people build a formal office in their homes, with the complete desk, the printer, fax machine and more. Its easy to do if you have a spare room, and an Office Depot or equivalent close by.
Other people just make a work area in the corner of the family room, with the minimum of special furniture or equipment.
Myself? Strange as it may seem, I work from my laptop at the kitchen table. Its how I like it.
So dont get too hung up about how a home office should be. Find your space and make it your own. And then let other family members know that it IS your office space, and encourage them to respect that.
Which brings us to...
Rule 3. Educate your Family
This can be the toughest part of all.
You need to help your family members understand that when youre working, youre AT WORK. Just the same as if you were working in an office.
After all, if you were working in an office, would one of your children walk in and ask you to get them a glass of juice?
Would another walk into your office conference room and announce that he or she was bored?
If you have family in the home, especially during vacation times, it can be tough on everyone. They want to disturb you. And you would probably rather step away from your desk and be with them as well.
So you need to establish some rules, for them and for yourself.
Rule 4. Know When to Stop Working
This can be the terror of working from home. You never know when to stop. Youll find yourself doing just one more thing and, next thing you know, its eight or nine in the evening.
This rule contains elements from each of the others. Its about scheduling, its about walking away from your office area, and its about rewarding yourself and your family by firmly putting work to one side at a reasonable time...just as if you were working in a real office.
Working from home brings with it multiple benefits. Its a wonderful lifestyle.
But it has its own sets of demands as well.
And that means you have to be disciplined, and plan your day in a way that represents a healthy balance between your work life and home life.
Dont let either one impose on the other. The more disciplined you are, the more successful and enjoyable your work at home lifestyle will be.
Related learning materials:
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