Telecommuting is getting a lot of attention lately. According to the Forrester Research, there are about 34 million Americans who telecommuted in 2009 alone. The report says that this will go up to about 63 million by the time that 2016 rolls in. Telecommuting can significantly improve employee recruitment efforts and other overhead costs. For telecommuters, this mean that they can work at home and save money in many areas, such as car repairs, dining out, travel expenses, clothes, etc.
However, having a telecommute job, whether it is on a part time basis or a full time job, is not without challenges. One of these problems is directly connected with productivity. So if you want to learn how to tackle and deal with productivity drains, here are some of the best ways to make telecommuting easier.
Hold Yourself Responsible
Working in an onsite office decreases the likelihood of you taking personal calls, surfing the Internet, or doing other activities that are not work related. This is partly because you do not want the company to waste time and money on you and also partly because you simply do not want your bosses to catch you. On the other hand, when you work at home, you are the only person who truly knows how you are spending your time and how you are investing it. This means that there is no other person who you can hold accountable for your actions.
Since working at home means that no one is supervising what you do, except in cases of occasional video meetings, there is still a tendency of you falling behind on your work. So in a nutshell, you should take responsibility for what you do and understand that there is no else that you can hold liable for your actions or lack thereof other than yourself.
Set Up a Schedule and Stick to It
It is highly possible that the main reason why you have gone into telecommuting is because it offers you the freedom to have a flexible work schedule. While this is actually one of the greatest benefits that telecommuting provides, you cannot expect to be productive if you always delay your tasks. Procrastination is one of the major challenges that you would face in this line of work, so before you fall victim to it, you should set up a clearly defined schedule.
For example, to start things early, wake up at around 6:30 AM. Give yourself at least an hour to shower, get dressed, and have breakfast. If you have kids, you can adjust this so that you can prepare their meals. The important thing here is that you do not go beyond the time that you have set for yourself to begin work. Then, take a break at noon and fix yourself some lunch. You should not make your lunch break more than an hour. Go back to work at 1PM till 3PM. Take a 15 to 20 minute break for a change of perspective. You will be surprised at how helpful these quick breaks are. Get back to work and finish what you can until you have completed your schedule.
The schedule that you will establish does not necessarily need to be the same every day or every week. However, you need to clearly define it. Make certain that you are up by a certain time every day, even if you have not taken a shower or dressed up yet. Limit your breaks to at least or less than an hour if possible. The important thing here is that you follow your set schedule religiously so that you can maximize your productivity.
Build a Personal Workspace
Building a personal workspace means that you have a specific area in your house, maybe the den or perhaps the unused guest room, where you can work. Creating a workspace that contains everything that you need to work with is very important if you want to become more productive in what you do. Aside from your personal computer or your laptop, you should also take ergonomics into careful consideration.
So what are these ergonomics? First is the chair where you will be sitting on for a long period of time. You do not want to be working on the floor, as this will put significant amount of stress on your back. There are now a lot of great computer chairs that come with ergonomic features, such as proper support for your back, your shoulders, and your neck. It is highly recommended that you spend a little extra on purchasing a high quality computer chair, as this will help you feel comfortable while working. Make certain that the lighting in the room is also enough. In addition to these, you should also take a closer look at the other issues or problems of the room that have the potential of affecting your work.
Consider Using Software that allows you to Specifically Track the Time Per Task
Since telecommuting is a booming industry, there is no need to wonder why there are now technologies and systems designed to help those who belong in this line of work, especially in terms of productivity. One of the types of software programs that you should consider using is a time tracking tool, much like Worksnaps. This service tracks the time that you allot for a particular task, whether it is an individual or a collaboration project. A great improvement in visibility and accountability of how you spend your time are just two of the things that you can expect from this unique and valuable service.
Manage Distractions – Don’t Mix Work with your Personal and Social Life
Distractions will always be part of working at home. Television shows, social media networking sites, and phone calls are just some of these. In order to be productive, you have to be able to manage these distractions. Turn off the TV, close your social media accounts, and disable your phone alerts. Being able to do this will help you stick to your set schedule more effectively.
Aside from these, you should also speak with your family regarding your work hours. Being at home does not mean that you are just there and that you are not working. As difficult as it may be, it is critical that you are able to set boundaries with your loved ones. By doing this, they will understand that even if you are at home, you are also working at the same time.
Don’t Overwork Yourself – Know When to Take a Break
All of the tips discussed above will help you increase your productivity levels while going about your work. However, it is crucial for you to understand that in your hopes of trying to do as much work as possible; it can be easy to park yourself in front of the computer from the moment that you sit down till it is time to call it a day. Working nonstop will not only result in burnout; it can also diminish your creativity and lead to health-related problems.
So in other words, you should not overwork yourself. Stand up, stretch your legs, enjoy a cup of coffee, or do some walking – whatever you wish to do during your break, go for it. This will provide you with a fresh perspective and your creativity is sure to get a boost. To top it all off, taking a much needed break will also ensure that your health will not suffer from working too hard.
This blog article also appears as a guest post on the Blog Herald.
Image credits: Daniela Vladimirova, Homesick Designs
Can I add two?
– Stay in touch with your team (if you have one)
– Track the use of your time in real-time
In my experience reporting retroactively and estimating what was done and when can be a horrible source of stress besides consuming a time that would be better used with something else. My suggestion, use an app that will get it done for you; track your time and work and report it automatically to your team, wherever it is. Even more useful if you happen to manage a team. There are several software out there. My personal choice and recommendation is primaERP: https://www.primaerp.com/