Telecommuting is at an all-time peak in terms of popularity. According to The New York Times, there are 3.2 million Americans who work a legitimate job from home. There are many benefits to telecommuting, such as convenient kitchen access, lack of noise, and the ability to lounge around in sweatpants instead of traditional work attire.
Despite these advantages, it can be easy for telecommuters to get distracted, especially when there are potential distractions — like watching television or surfing the web — that you can easily get immersed in without a supervisor reminding you of priorities.
Experienced telecommuters typically utilize tips that help them have a productive working day from home. These include:
Use a Room Designated for Work
Even in a small apartment, it should be possible to devote a room — or even a corner — to your work. Using the same space as where you eat or lounge can result in distraction. “Some people think they can ‘set up shop’ on the kitchen table or plop on the sofa, open a laptop and work. In my experience, that’s a recipe for distraction,” says productivity expert Anne McGurty. Make sure your designated work space is organized and generally somewhere that you intend to use exclusively for work.
Pretend You’re at the Office
Your boss and co-workers would frown upon a messy workspace or if you intermittently took a break every hour to chat with a friend. To remain productive, telecommuters should avoid actions like these, so they are essentially pretending to be at an office surrounded by others who have the tendency to judge and criticize. Some telecommuters even opt to dress professionally instead of sweatpants, so they can feel as if they’re at the office.
Keep the Same Daily Schedule
Even while working at home, it’s important to set uniform times for each day — like waking up at 8 a.m., starting work by 9 a.m. and not taking a lunch break until noon — so structure continues to play a role in your workday. “The structure of a routine will help you avoid procrastination and boost your productivity,” McGurty explains. It may also be useful to utilize time management software, such as RescueTime, to keep your schedule intact.
Cater to Your Tendencies
Are you not quite a morning person? If so, you may find yourself better working from noon to 8 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Telecommuting allows one to take advantage of their personal tendencies. As long as the work is turned in on time, “morning people” and “night people” can adjust to their own preferable tendencies in order to maximize their productivity and comfort: two aspects that are very important for telecommuters to balance if they wish to remain productive while working from home.
Take Advantage of Freedom
In addition to the tips above, which emphasize productivity while working, you should use the flexibility of working from home to your advantage. For example, a productive telecommuter won’t have any issue devoting an extra half-hour or so to the gym during lunch break, which can stimulate the mind and prepare one better for the remaining workday. After all, breaks are great for your mental and physical health.
Especially when telecommuters utilize the tips above, they will find that telecommuting can provide a far superior flexibility and quality of life compared to working in an office. Although working from home may be ripe for procrastination in some cases, there are some individuals whose work tendencies and organizational skills make telecommuting an ideal employment scenario.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer based in Pennsylvania. She has been passionate about career development ever since her college years — all four of which she spent interning in her college’s career center. Now that she is her own boss, she shares the practical advice that she finds works in her own life. To see more of her work, visit her design blog.