How to Work Effectively From Home

Advice for sharpening your job skills.

1. Get Ready

While it’s enticing to work in your pajamas, studies show telecommuters who shower and get dressed (like they’re going to the office) are more effective. This approach also helps you maintain a professional routine and focuses your mind when you start the work day.

2. Set Up a Functional Workspace
Make sure your workspace is comfortable and uncluttered, and includes all the tools and equipment you’ll need during the day, including reliable Internet access. If you live with other people, whether family or roommates, try to set up shop in a place with a door that can be closed easily to minimize distractions.

3. Establish Boundaries
Make sure the people in your life know that, even though you’re working at home, you’re still on the clock. Be kind but firm in turning down requests for favors and visits, and if someone stops by unannounced, nicely ask them to come back after business hours. Consider creating a sign for your door that lets kids know whether you’re available or shouldn’t be disturbed.

4. Create Specific Daily Goals
First thing in the morning or during the evening before, make a detailed list of all tasks that you must finish while you’re working from home. This will keep you on track in the midst of distractions.

5. Be Transparent with Your Boss
If you alter your routine on telecommuting days, be sure to let your supervisor know. For example, do you need to pick up your son at school? It’s OK to make personal decisions, as long as they don’t affect productivity and you’re accessible if something urgent comes up. Being open with your supervisor means he or she isn’t left wondering what you’re actually doing.

6. Keep Work and Personal Lives Separate
Think of your telecommuting office as a place that’s completely separate from your personal home, and fight the urge to take care of your own to-do list throughout the day. Simply closing the door should help. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to slip into over-work. Begin and end your day at set times, and make it a point not to talk about work once your laptop is closed.

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