I’ve read a lot recently about working from home, most of it good. Points such as dress for work, have a designated work space, and set boundaries are all good advice. However, time after time I see “set work hours” as integral piece of the puzzle to successfully working form home. From my experience punching a time clock isn’t one of the keys to successfully working from home. On the contrary, it may get in the way. I’m not saying to put in 12 hours a day or work into the wee hours of the night. What I’m suggesting is that taking action, getting the job done is more important than watching the clock.
I work from home. My first experience was when I took the summer of 2008 off from work — or at least that’s what I told myself. What I did was speak, consult, train, and write over 100,000 words. My outlines, presentations, and writing were all done from my home office between gardening, reading for fun, or just swinging in the hammock. I accomplished a lot and took breaks when I needed. How was I able to do this? What was my secret? I didn’t look at the clock. I still don’t. Today it was past 2:00 when I remembered I hadn’t eaten.
Granted, there are many keys to successfully working from home, including a comfortable work station, access to information, proper equipment, and support. But none of this would work if I didn’t produce. This is how I hold myself accountable.
Look to Tasks, Not Time
Instead of looking at the clock, I look at my list. I begin each day with a task list, which I expect to complete. This can only be accomplished by constructing a realistic, highly doable list.
By calculating how long each task will take, I schedule a full day. If I work faster or smarter and complete the tasks sooner, I have more hammock time. If I take a two hour break to mow the lawn before it rains, I keep working until my task list is complete. The key is to make a realistic list — not a wish list. Unless it’s Armageddon or my network goes down (same thing), I complete the list regardless of the time. I’m not an expert on ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), but I know what works for me.
• Construct a realistic task list
• Commit to completing the list before the day is finished
Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. If you’re interrupted by family, children, and pets — work until it’s done. If you are easily distracted, try the following:
- Set Boundaries. Let those who share your space know what you need, what you expect, and what is unacceptable.
- Put on your headphones. Instrumental music works best for me.
- Shut the door and create a do not disturb sign.
- Post your calendar, mines on the fridge.
- Don’t jump down Rabbit holes. I turn off all notifications except for text and phone, and then check email and social media on my schedule.
If you want to successfully work from home, be a taskmaster, not a clock watcher. Do you work from home? What have you learned that helps you work successfully from home?
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