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Posts Tagged ‘working from home’

OK, this is very sad. I’ve been forgetting to post on Tuesdays with my Home Office Tips. Guess that’s what a few weeks of traveling followed by a few weeks of sick kids will do to you.

 

But it’s a great set up for today’s tip: create a routine. Flexibility has tremendous benefits. But it also has challenges. There are those days where it’s so hard to sit down and get to work. And so easy to do everything else.

 

So create a ‘getting to work routine’ that mimics what people do in offices. Mine is simple. After I come home from taking the monkeys to school, I put my coat away, reheat my cold coffee, fill a glass with water, and then head directly into my office. No stopping to do the laundry or tidy the kitchen – those are dangerous distractions for first thing in the morning. Simple is good, because it’s easy to repeat every day. But maybe it’s too simple.

 

Anyone else have a good morning routine that helps you work from home? Please share it in the comments.

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In Philly, the first signs of fall are in the air. I love the crisp air and that indescribable smell that reminds me of little league football games. And it reminds me that I need to get outside while I can.

Folks who commute to offices have to get outside – at least as long as it takes to get into their cars or walk from the parking lot to the office. Working from home, before I was in charge of preschool drop off, I could spend an entire day, even a couple of days, in the house wihtout once stepping outside. That can’t be healthy.

Various studies have shown that too much artificial light can make you tired. And sunlight can energize you and make you more productive.

These days, I try to get my daily dose of sunlight by building a few walks and other distractions into my day. Taking the kids to school, walking the dog, walking to the post office, going to the bank or even grabbing lunch ensures that I get out of my work cave and enjoy the day.

It feels wonderful this time of year, which is motivation enough.

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It’s critical for your sanity and for the sake of work actually getting done to establish clear boundaries for the home office. This pertains to space – where is your workspace and who is allowed access to it – and to when you’re ‘at the office’ and when you’re ‘at home.’

I’ve highly recommend having a dedicated workspace, whether it’s a desk, an alcove, or an actual room. Right now, I’m lucky enough to have a room, with a door that closes. The monkeys, Mr. Daddy, and our former nannies all know that if the door to my office was closed, they should act like I’m not home. Even when I didn’t have a door to close, I made it clear to everyone in the house that when I was ‘at work’ – sitting at my desk – I was unavailable.

I never really have had auditory privacy, which means I know what’s going on in the house even when I’m at work.  Sometimes I would hear stuff going on and help out, especially when the monkeys were tiny babies. But I found that as they got older, it became really hard for them to see me pop in and out of their day but not have me to play with. So it was better for them and for me that when I’m working, I’m working and when I’m done, I’m done. When they’re home while I’m at work, I keep water and snacks nearby so they don’t have to see me while I’m working.

One thing I’m less good at is evening boundaries for when I’m at home. It’s almost impossible not to dip in and out of email in the evenings to see what’s up in my West Coast office. Ideally, I’d cut that out and make the boundaries even more sharp – perhaps by setting aside 15-20 min to check and respond to email once in the evening so I can have some regular down time. But I haven’t quite gotten there yet. It’s a work in progress.

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I’ve had trouble finding time to blog lately. To help myself get a bit more disciplined, I’m succuming to a tried and true blogger tactic – the weekly column.

A lot of folks who juggle work and family life have the amazing opportunity of doing them both in the same place – working from home. I’ve been at it for over 4 years, and I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. So on Tuesdays, I’ll share my tips for successfully working from home.

Today’s tip: Make lunch dates.

One of the hardest things about working from home is the lack of built in social infrastructure. Sure, you can call your colleagues, but if you’re in PA and they’re all in CA, you can’t spontaneously decide to go out to lunch.

Making up for the lack of social interactions by getting extremely chatty with the drycleaner, the barista, or the preschool teacher can only get you so far. It’s not the same as griping about work and sharing ideas with someone who understands what you do. 

Try to find people in similar industries near where you live, and schedule monthly lunches. I’ve recently been connecting with a former colleague who reccently moved to the area and a new friend who I met through a special interest list serv who work downtown. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it helps prevent the feeling that you’re just a disembodied head on the phone or hands on the keyboard. And it’s a great way to stay connected to a local network.

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