Wednesday, September 3, 2014

(More) Semi-Pro Tips: Working from Home.

I'm back again with more tips for working from home (you can see the first set here).

This is my intern.You know, just an owl holding some pens.

I've worked (mostly) from home for almost three years and I feel like I'm getting better at it (brag, much?) in that I feel like I get less distracted and more efficient.

1.) Set Boundaries. I mentioned in my last post about working from home that it's important to have a separation between professional and personal life when you work from home. Set boundaries so people know that no, you can't run an errand for them during your work day and no, you are laying by the pool all day. When I was freelancing and my hours were more flexible, I was okay with occasionally babysitting or running an errand during the work day. Now that I have a full time job, I just say no. When Rhyno comes home from work at 2pm, he knows to just pop in to say hi and then be on his way. Would he call me at a corporate office and talk to me for hours? Probably not. Would you ask me to babysit your 8 year old if I was sitting at a company desk? No. That would be mad boring for a kid. So, in the vein of keeping focused during the work day, I try not to do anything that I wouldn't do in an actual office (with the exception of shoes...I'd probably wear those in an office but I never do at home).

 2.) Get Organized. I can't concentrate as well in a space full of chaos. I try to keep my work stuff insanely organized be it with my Outlook calendar, a dry-erase board, post-it notes about important tasks, and my daily to-do list. On my office wall I have one calendar with only work appointments on it, another with my blog editorial calendar, and another with personal things.

3.) Remember Your Schedule. When I know I have a crazy busy day ahead, I try to wake up a bit earlier than usual to enjoy my breakfast and tea with Rhyno to get me centered before work. I work in Public Relations which means when I have a busy day I have a BUSY DAY and this is nearly every day. I like to be busy but it's easy to get overwhelmed so if I know I have a ton to do, I get out of bed earlier to jump start my day. I don't schedule the cable guy or the air vent cleaners for work hours to avoid time-sucks and distractions. If you have the type of job that allows you to be away from your desk when you work from home or allows you to ignore your phone/email for chunks of time, then this rule doesn't apply to you.

4.) Ask for Help. Let's be honest, working from home can get incredibly lonely. It is easy to feel like an island, all alone, floating out there (maybe that's just hormones talking). Just because I'm not physically there doesn't mean I can't ask for help though, I have gotten much better over the last few months with reaching out to coworkers when I need help and I've gotten such great response. PR is also rarely a lonely field because I'm constantly on conference calls or emailing clients, coworkers, and media contacts. Also, just chit chat with people, bond with your coworkers, and it helps to have a team that makes you feel included even from far away (luckily, I do).
5.) Remember to Take Time Off. For a long time I figured working at home was my reward so I rarely asked for time off (aside from medical things) despite working 10-12 hour days.  No, you still need time off. Want to take a vacation day and sit at home in any room except your office? Do it. Working non-stop isn't good for anyone's productivity or creativity. I can tell when I've overworked myself because I have a harder time with my writing and my PR pitch ideas don't flow as easily. That's when I know I need to ask for a day or so off--now don't do it every single week but you know what I mean. Just because you're at home doesn't mean you shouldn't take time off for yourself!

Do you work from home? Any good tips?

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You look so pretty today.