I telecommute once a week. The challenge to working from home is to stay focused on work. Here is a list of ways I manage my telecommute day:
Have a task list that someone else sees
The day before I telecommute, I send my supervisor a task list. I CC the director and deputy director of the office and my supervisor at the staffing company. At the end of the telecommute day, I write a report listing all of the tasks I completed that day, even if they weren’t a part of the original task list. Everyone gets to see what I accomplished, and also gets to see what else came up during the day. Nothing keeps me focused on my work than scrutiny at the end of the day.
Have a meeting
I like to check in with my supervisor while I’m at home, but I also like to schedule webinars or meetings with co-workers who are not located in my office. (We got places all over the place.) I like using Skype for meetings, but it’s verboten on our office computers, so telecommute days are perfect days to schedule those meetings.
Recreate the office workflow
I take breaks at home at the same time I take breaks at work. I also prepare lunch like I would if I were going to the office, so I don’t waste time peering into the fridge looking for food or cooking something elaborate.
Get away from the desk
I usually take a walk during my lunch break. It gets me away from my computer and outside of the house. A nice walk also helps energize me for the rest of the day. If it’s raining out, I’ll do a crossword or some household chores. Anything to get me away from a screen for awhile.
Do not schedule non-work appointments on telecommute days
I take personal leave to cover appointments like doctor’s visits instead of trying to work around those appointments. If I absolutely have to schedule non-work appointments on my telecommute day, I take a half day of leave. It’s tough enough to go back to the office after an appointment, but it’s even harder when I go home. I’m more likely to slack off.
Do not turn on the TV
Here’s what happens when I have the TV on while I work:
- I get so engrossed in what I’m doing I am not even paying attention to what is on TV.
- or -
- I get so engrossed in what’s on TV that I am not even paying attention to what I’m doing.
Best to keep the TV off.
- Regardless of what I said in the headline of this post, you will need to find your own path when telecommuting. But I do think if you’re struggling to focus when working at home, these ideas can be useful.
- If this post has the ring of familiarity to it, it’s a remix of something I posted on this site a while ago. I wanted to freshen it up with metaphors that are more meaningful to our lives today.