Golden Guidelines for Working from Home

Note: Student of Change is now Do Your Best Work.  Welcome! For seven years I had a full time office job -- and then I had none.  In making the transition from office worker to full time student/part time consultant, I had to learn a new way of working. Gone were the opportunities for casual interaction with coworkers, the sense that others noticed whether or not I was busy, and the pre-defined work hours.   Full days stretched out in front of me, and it was up to me to fill them productively.

Working from home -- whether it's your full-time gig, a once-a-week thing or a special arrangement with your boss to get that report done -- requires adopting a new set of behaviors.  Of course, having increased flexibility and the option to see a friend, bake a cake or go to yoga in the middle of the day is one of the reasons we choose to work from home.  Still, I find it useful to keep these guidelines in mind to make sure that I'm on track and as productive as I want to be:

  1. Get dressed in the morning. It really makes a difference.  Also: make your bed.
  2. Protect your time from others. It can be tempting, especially at first, to set up a lot of lunch dates with friends across town - just because you can.  But with that lunch date goes half of your day.  Schedule social engagements during work time sparingly.
  3. Protect your time from yourself. This is about setting boundaries between work and non-work.  Don't let household projects, non-work email or heaven forbid, TV, become procrastination devices.  On the flip-side, don't let work encroach on non-work relaxation & renewal.
  4. Worst/best first. Two ways to approach this: get the worst thing you have to do all day out of the way first.  OR, start your day with the best thing you have to do -- usually the most creative and thus most energy-consuming but also energizing.  I vary my approach depending on what's on my plate.
  5. Create colleagues.  Find at least one other person who is also a solo-worker and make a regular date to check in.  Gaining additional perspectives and support from others in your field is essential to your sanity and your growth.  And, your partner will appreciate not having to play the role of coworker at the end of his/her own long day.

Do you work from home?  What are your Golden Guidelines?

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