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homeoffice.jpgWhile I spend my fair share of time on the road and in coffee shops, most of the time I’m huddled away in my home office here in Chicago. When people find out that I often work from home, the most common response I get is something along the lines of “I’m so jealous. I wish I could work in my PJs in front of the TV all day.” Sound familiar?  As most of you Workshifters know, working from home is anything but cushy. Sure, it has its advantages, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some of the things that have helped me stay sane as a home office warrior:

  • Minimize distractions.If you have an office door, shut it. Turn off the TV, the radio and anything else that will prevent you from actually getting work done. Figure out how you operate most efficiently. To truly focus on what I’m doing, I learned quickly that I need complete silence – no TV and no music. Sometimes, I also disconnect from the Internet to focus 100% on projects.

  • Stay connected. Other than the standard emails and phone calls, find other ways to connect with your clients and co-workers. You’re missing out on the water cooler chit-chat, so it’s up to you to make those connections in other ways. I use Google Talk, Skype and of course Facebook, Twitter, among others.  (If you use more than one instant messenger application, consider using a service like Pidgin, which lets you log in to account on multiple chat networks simultaneously.)
  • Get out. Working from home can get pretty isolating at times. This was a challenge for me at first. Make sure you get out on a regular basis and have actual face-to-face interactions with people. Work in a coffee shop for one day a week. Run errands over lunch. Connect with other Workshifters in your area through groups like Jelly.
  • Know when to stop. One of the toughest things about working from home is not being able to leave “the office.” If possible, separate your work space from your living space. Also, don’t go “back to work” when you’ve finished for the day. If you’re going to check your work email on the weekend or before you go to bed, try to only do so for a set amount of time. That way you won’t get sucked in…
  • Insist on IT support. As a Workshifter there is nothing more frustrating than IT troubles. Actually, I take that back. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a tech problem and not having anyone to help you fix it. If your employer doesn’t have a system for this in place, investigate IT support in your own neighborhood. MindFire works with a company that uses a remote support approach using Citrix GoToAssist.
  • Finally – develop a routine and stick to it. As AJ Leon noted in his recent Workshifting post, “maintaining some construct of routine is far more important for a Workshifter than for a traditional employee.” Whatever that routine may be, it will help get you in the “work” mindset and bring some normalcy to the day.

See also: an excellent post over at zenhabits 501 on Top 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working from Home.

What are some of your best tips for home office warriors?

Photo by: baliboro

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  • melanielopez

    As a “workshifter” myself this has been so helpful to hear about what others do. With my company becoming more flexible with working from home I’ve been worried about how to maintain my productivity level with all the distractions around!