For many people, working at home is a dream come true. In addition to saying farewell to long commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, remote workers can pretty much wear whatever they want and often schedule projects around their families. Come tax time, they may be able to deduct a lot of their home office-related expenses.
Of course, there is a flip side to the often glorious world of telecommuting. You need to have a definite level of self-discipline and ability to say “no” to distractions such as the TV and friends who want to get coffee at the drop of a hat. For ways to stay focused and meet your deadlines, check out these tips:
Have a dedicated work space
To stay on top of things and be organized in your work, you need to have a dedicated home office. The space should be free of distractions and ideally have a door that you can close if you are trying to work when family is home.
If you are thinking about moving in the near future to a city that has more telecommuting options, look at places that have an extra room where you can set up for work. Many people fit their workspace into a small closet with clever storage techniques and wire organization. Experts suggest using natural light, ergonomic principles and personal flair so your home office becomes a place where you enjoy to work.
For some, though, a home office doesn’t provide a consistent and reliable work environment. It can also be demoralizing to work alone without person-to-person interaction. Many remote work professionals rely on coffee shops, cafes and co-working spaces as work stations. If this sounds like you, use a Wi-Fi finder app to locate nearby coffee shops or ShareDesk to rent out co-working spaces. Remember to back up all important files, especially when using public Wi-Fi, to make sure you don’t lose anything.
Get dressed for work
Although you may dream of working on that big project for your boss in your bunny slippers and favorite flannel jammies, dressing in work clothes has a positive psychological effect on your level of motivation. According to Business Insider, you don’t have to wear a formal business suit and heels around the house, but a decent outfit including shoes will help tell your brain that it’s time to buckle down and take care of business.
Establish a routine
Since we are all creatures of habit, coming up with a work schedule will keep you on track. If you have kids, try to get as much done while they are in school. Yes, you will have days when you need to get up early or burn the midnight oil to complete projects, and you may wish to take hours off here and there to volunteer in school or meet a friend for lunch. But overall, creating and sticking to a predictable schedule is a surefire way to stay motivated and productive.
Make to-do lists and assign deadlines
To help get your projects done on time, U.S. News and World Report suggests making daily to-do lists that will give you a clear idea of what you need to accomplish. Checking off each item as you finish motivates you to keep going. Also, make sure that at least some of your work has deadlines — either your own or the ones your clients or boss give to you — and mark them on a calendar.