This article originally appeared May 1, 2019
Whether you are your own boss, or work remotely for your company, working from home provides many advantages. In fact, according to the latest studies in telecommuting trends, 4.3 million employees now work from home at least half of the time. However, as rewarding as working from home may be, more freedom can mean the temptation to engage in activities that are neither productive nor efficient. Although it’s true that working from your employer’s office is fraught with distractions like impromptu meetings or water cooler gossip, working from home has its own set of potential distractions. We thought it would be fun to pick the brains of some of our talented staff members who often work from home to get their take on how they stay productive with so many lurking interruptions.
Donna Pettit, Controller
“I pretend that I am going into the office. I shower, dress and put on make-up. I also plan what I will be working on ahead of time. One of the tricks I use is to make daily punch lists. The thrill of checking off each item as I finish is very rewarding.
Because working from home can be isolating, every few weeks I go out to lunch and interact with real humans. When I don’t go out to lunch, I will leave for 30 minutes to eat, or throw a load of laundry in. What is very important to me is that I have an actual home office, a dedicated area that only I go in and is my own space.”
C.C. Carr, Onsite Director and Social Media Mgr. (Independent)
“Make the bed! An organized environment can positively impact our mental state and it only takes a minute. Plus, it lends a small sense of accomplishment at the start of the day. I also don’t check my email for the first half hour in the morning. I shower, get dressed and make coffee. Then, I’m off and running. Also, I have to stay organized or I feel like I’m losing my mind! So on breaks that I schedule for myself, I will do one or two small things in my home, like clean the kitchen or organize my work desk. I’ve also created a home office that reflects my style, is comfortable and feels good to be in.
Additionally, I stay off my devices. I rarely check my personal social media accounts and I limit my personal phone conversations. I’m also not great at multitasking, so I do one task at a time. For me, it’s all about less clutter in my mind. Finally, when the work day is done, it’s done. I prepare for the next day and have the evening to recharge.”
Working from home when children are around presents a litany of challenges.
Chrisina Piedlow, Owner/Executive Director
“Hire help! You can work from home when you have kids, but they need to be separated from you – with help from family or others. Here are some helpful tips for working from home when you have children present:
• Slightly change your work schedule if you have a boss that is flexible.
• Find a time during the day when you can completely focus on your family. For me, that’s 5:30-8:30pm and 7am-8am. That means I’ll take 6am meetings and am willing to answer emails after the kids go to bed. But, I’m not to be disturbed during my family hours.
• Marry the right partner. The right partner will understand your needs and rise to the occasion. Hopefully, you are also the right partner for your significant other.
• Fall in love with the mute button during meetings. Dogs bark, mowers mow, and kids cry. Mute mute mute!
• Roast everything. Look up recipes for sheet pan dinners and crock pot meals.
• Give every child chores to do. Even at two, they can help clean up messes, put dirty clothes in a hamper, and even help clear the table of small items.
• Outsource everything you feel is worth outsourcing. Shopping, groceries, laundry, cleaning, driving, even cooking – these all can be outsourced if you have the means.”
Kim Mallery, Organizational Strategist and Project Mgr.
“Find a flexible employer who understands your situation. You do not want to be in a position where you constantly feel torn between work and family.
Find a daycare that is flexible. I am lucky to have a partner who is home during the day when he is not on a job. But that means when he is gone, I’m a single parent. The daycare (and Kindergarten) I found allowed me to set the amount of days and times that my daughter would need care that week. It took a bit of asking around, but these gems are out there!
Accept help that is offered. It does take a village. I’ve been that person for others but goodness knows I’ve relied on friends a lot! As Christina mentioned above, I can’t say enough about having an understanding partner and family. If you don’t have that nothing will work!”
Working from home can be a very productive and stress reducing arrangement if you have the type of position that works well outside of the typical office environment. In fact, a two-year Stanford study shows the astounding productivity boost of working from home. If you pay careful attention to the array of possible pitfalls and develop discipline and strategies that allow you to be productive, you will find that you can indeed work from home and make it work.