Working from home is becoming increasingly popular. More companies are hiring people to work remotely, and at-home start-ups are an appealing alternative to a 9 to 5 desk job. Although working from home can be freeing, it can also be surprisingly hard. To work from home productively, include these 12 essential things.

1. Internet service

If you have a job from home that requires absolutely no internet access, I would love to know what it is. For most of us, the internet is key to getting things done. Whether you’re a blogger, an entrepreneur, a consultant, or (pretty much) anything else, you need good, reliable internet service. Make sure you’ve got a consistent, decent speed connection to boost your productivity. Nothing is worse than not getting things done because your internet went out… again.

2. Office space

You need to make sure you have one place that you consider your work-space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire room, but make sure you’re not confusing your office with your leisure space. Simply putting a desk in a corner of your bedroom will suffice. Coffee shops and libraries are also popular places to work. For example, I work from my kitchen table. Find what works for you and stick to it.

3. Phone service

Just as internet service is important to just about every at-home job, so is phone service. While this might not be as important, by virtue of email and voice messaging services like Skype, it’s still crucial to have phone service.

4. Clothes that aren’t pajamas

Yes, working from home means you don’t have to wear that suit you always hated. However, wearing your pajamas during your workday can cut down on productivity. We associate pajamas with leisure and sleep — not with work. So try changing out of them for the day. You’ll find that you get more done.

5. A good desktop setup

While your desktop might be good for play, you might need to expand your capabilities with some extras. From spreadsheets to manage your accounts, to backup storage for important documents, it might come in handy to have some business-oriented software. Shop around for some of these products; they’ll likely make your life a whole lot simpler.

6. Reach out to the rest of the world

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should confine yourself to your room. Networking sites for professionals are quickly becoming must-haves in the business world. Sites like LinkedIn can help you reach out to others in the industry and people you have worked with in the past. Job postings on the site can also lead you to new opportunities, as some jobs are listed as remote.

7. An organized space

As with a desk in an office building, you need to make sure your space is organized and decluttered. Just because you work from home does not mean that you can treat your work-space like your laundry room, kitchen or gym. The same goes for your computer: while you’re working, it is a work computer. It’s not a sometimes-work, sometimes-play computer.

8. A time for working

Make a specific time for work every day and stick to it. It can get confusing to differentiate between work and home when the two are the same. However, making sure you create a workday for yourself can help your productivity. If you aren’t a 9 to 5 kind of person, that’s fine, but you’ve got to make a specific time in which you will only do work.

9. A followup

It can be easy for people to forget about the at-home employee. Out of sight, out of mind really does apply to the work world. Make sure you make yourself known via email or phone. If you need to communicate with someone, make sure you aren’t forgotten.

10. Realistic expectations

Working from home can be great, and it can save you a lot of money on transportation costs. However, it might start out paying less than you hoped. Many at-home workers are self-employed, meaning they are responsible for all costs associated with running their business. Others, like freelance writers, might feel the initial disappointment with per-word payment. However, once you establish yourself, things often get a lot better.

11. Perseverance

As I said above, establishing yourself opens up more opportunities and more money. Don’t get too discouraged with your job if things start out slowly. If you stick with it and produce quality work, you’re more likely to reap the benefits later.

12. Distance

While it’s important to make sure you’re working without distractions when you need to, don’t think you need to constantly work. It can be easy to bring your work home with you if work and home are the same place. Make sure you let go of your work, just as you would if you worked outside of your home. If it’s past your scheduled work time, leave it until tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Dave Morris via flickr.com

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