Working Harder While Working From Home

BY: ON TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2011

For the millions of Americans who currently work from home, there is certainly a lot to be said for telecommuting as a whole. Working from home offers freedom and flexibility like no other career-lifestyle. It is generally more cost effective and good for the environment. Working from home also gives parents a chance to raise their own children. It is only natural that this growing trend is changing the face of work, as we know it.

According to the Small Business Administration’s “Office of Advocacy, The Small Business Economy 2010—A Report To the President”, at least half of the 16 million small businesses in the nation operate at least part of the time from home offices. Additionally, the Telework Research Network, a watchdog organization for the telecommute arena, conducts periodic surveys which indicate as many as 17.2 million people worked at home at least one day as of 2008. Of course, with the average national gas price still hovering around $3.40 and “extreme couponing” becoming a craze, workers are more attracted to working at home now than ever before.

Working from home does not come without its specific set of challenges, however. For many, holding down a career and dealing with a home environment can become burdensome, even impossible, without a strategy. Some telecommuters find it difficult to stay motivated, deal with the isolation of working at home full time, and struggle with balancing work with family commitments. This is especially true of parents of young children, or those who are caregivers.

Fortunately, there are several ways of making work at home more productive and rewarding. Leslie Golis Truex, founder of Work At Home Success and author of The Work at Home Success Bible and Jobs Online: Find and Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job, provides five expert tips for making work from home a more positive experience:

Create a Routine

Working at home allows flexibility, but it's easier to get into that “work zone” and be productive if you have a daily routine. By setting a routine, work at home professionals are far more likely to be productive during prime hours, and have more time to focus on family at other times. This creates clear boundaries between career and personal life – a real problem for many telecommuters.

Have Your Materials Ready

Don't waste time searching for what you need in your home office. Keep everything you need for work in your immediate work area. Make sure you have supplies, office equipment and the phone within easy reach to cut down on obstacles. Leslie suggests, “The closer you keep the items you need to work, the faster you can get the work done.”

Know Your Peak Work Hours

Some people work better first thing in the morning, while others are night owls. Leslie adds that she “knows that she loses energy after lunch, so she does the work that requires the most mental focus before lunch.” Identifying your peak work hours is critical to success as a home based professional – and can actually create more balance in your daily routines.

Have a Plan for Kids

It is unreasonable to expect to have hours of uninterrupted work with kids around, especially during vacations and holidays. For younger kids, having someone come to the house or sending them to pre-school can give you several hours of productive work time. Leslie says, “I used to make deals with my kids that I would work for two hours and take 15 minutes off until the afternoon. In the afternoons, I would take them to the pool or something and then finish work later at night.” Being able to adapt your work times around your family life makes a huge difference.

Set Limits Around Email and Social Networking

Email and social networking can help your business, but they are huge time wasters as well. Leslie advises to “Schedule a couple times a day when you allow yourself to check email and engage in social networking, and stick to those times.” The rest of the time, focus on the work at hand and avoid obsessively checking your email, cell phone and Facebook accounts all day. Try this for a day and see how much more productive you can be.

If you identify with any of the above issues, take heart that there are many people who also go through these things periodically as telecommuters. By knowing what activities are time wasters and what could cause conflicts with your work from home experience - you can begin to create a plan to make working from home work for you. Just as it takes determination to be successful in a traditional career, a work from home career can be highly rewarding if you have a strategy in place.

About the Author

Tess Taylor

Tess C. Taylor is a Web Copy Writer and Business Consultant from Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to being a 15 year veteran in Human Resources, Tess has had over 2,000 articles published on various small business, online marketing, green lifestyle, entrepreneurial and career topics around the globe.

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