Let’s face it. Working from home is a dream for a lot of people. Working people may dream of waking and walking to the office down the hall in their bathrobe with a cup of coffee in hand, long lunches with friends or knocking off early to take the kids to the park.
Working from home CAN be a dream come true and you CAN do the things previously mentioned and still be productive if you can avoid a few pitfalls.
If you are a social butterfly you might find working from home to be a little lonely at first. You may be used to the social interaction of working with others. You may miss the water cooler chatter and feel isolated.
The pitfall: Social Media and Email. Some reports say there are 500+ social media sites and it’s easy to get sucked into any number of them if you are feeling isolated. If you are having an especially bad day you can end the day farther behind than when you started.
How to avoid this pitfall: Try only keeping one window open on your desktop while working. It’s easy to get distracted by multiple sources if you have windows open for Twitter, Facebook, email and more. By only having one window open at a time you force yourself to focus on the task at hand (See my post on Strengthening your Focus muscle). Don’t worry, you can still be social. After an hour of focused work set a timer and give yourself 10-15 minutes to chat on your favorite social media platform. Be sure to get back to work once the timer goes off though.
Procrastinating with a To Do List
Not all of the parts of working from home are sexy, fun, or exciting. In fact some of them can be down right unpleasant. Or at the very least, kind of boring.
The pitfall: Putting things off. When you’ve got boring business phone calls to make, items to photograph, or checkbooks to balance it can be hard to get motivated. Suddenly a trip to … ANYWHERE seems super important, as well as bathing the dog, emptying the dishwasher… you get the idea.
How to avoid this pitfall: Working from home requires organization and the ability to prioritize your work – both business work and home work. One of the downsides of working from home is that there is always work to be done and you can SEE it. You can’t help but stop now and then to put laundry in the dryer or to empty the dishwasher and there is no reason why you can’t. Stopping your work to do another quick chore can be a nice mental break. Just be sure it’s only a break. Make a list of work things that need to be done and get those done first thing. Doing the work things first ensures that you are able to get your work done and have time to scoop the litter box too.
Being Distracted by Video or Television
Sometimes working from home can be quiet. Too quiet. Being alone all of the time starts to really bother some people and they lose productivity seeking out ways to be entertained.
The pitfall: It’s so easy when you are working from home alone to want to switch on the television for some background noise or to mosey on over to YouTube to watch a video on how to make Lima beans into jewelry.You can tell yourself that Lima bean jewelry is going to be the next big trend or that you really need to see what is happening on the news right now but the truth is that what you really need to do is pay the bills. Cute sloths on YouTube won’t pay the bills. It’s a fact. Watching television or videos can be a HUGE time suck. An average show on television is 30-60 minutes long. One or two shows and half of your day is shot.
How to avoid this pitfall: Use television or videos as a reward for a job well done. Allow yourself some viewing time during lunch or for 20-30 minutes before you have to go pick the kids up from school. Maybe you can record your favorite shows to watch on the weekends or at night.
What pitfalls keep you from a full day of productive work? Have you come up with ways to avoid those pitfalls? Please share in the comments below.
By: Vicki O’Dell, The Creative Goddess
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