Six Tips You Must Use to Telecommute Before You Die

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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.

Bon Jour! Ça Va?

Harbour Centre Lookout Hello, blog. It’s been awhile. No no, don’t worry: no one noticed we were away. I’ve seen the site stats.

Anyway, I recently attended SLA Annual Conference in Vancouver. I sat on a panel called “Digital Government Strategy: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve Our Constituencies” with Sandra Singh and Katrina Stierholz. It was moderated by RAND‘s Manager of Knowledge Services Gail Kouril. Singh, Chief Librarian at Vancouver Public Library, discussed the Library’s role in setting the city’s digital strategy (which you can read about in “Inside Vancouver’s Digital Strategy” by Kristen Hilderman for BCBusiness). Stierholz, Assistant Vice President of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, discussed the strategies that developed the Fed’s FRED and FRASER resources. I talked about the eLibraryUSA platform my office created to serve the American Spaces program.

I roomed with Amy Buckland and Kendra Levine. We probably could have recorded an episode of LibPunk Radio while we were together, but instead we hung out and had a good time and discovered how much sushi there is in all-you-can-eat sushi. (I ate quite well in Vancouver. I had dinner at L’Abattoir too, which was spectacularly good.)

Over coffee at Revolver, Kendra had the idea of starting a Tumblr that profiles special librarians and what they do. So we started a Tumblr that profiles special librarians called Hello, I’m a Special Librarian. We’re working on booking our first few profiles and will be posting there soon. WATCH THAT SPACE.