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Bringing More Efficiency When You Work from Home

Bringing More Efficiency When You Work from Home
Work from Home

    There are a fair number of people who work from home. Though it can be very convenient to work from home, the choice can bring its own set of problems. One major problem arises from the very nature of the work involved you to be at home while you earn a living. Mothers have to tend to children and fathers are also expected to probably lend in a hand for household chores. There is also a desire to spend time with the children during their working hours.

    Home environment is not always conducive to work and requires organizing not only your time but also your workspace in a way that a balance is struck between the two. You naturally want to do justice to both your family and work.

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    It is not all that difficult to manage your work and family / children when you are working from home. If you get down thinking about it, the only difference is that instead of getting up in the morning to dress and leave for office you are working at home. It is this variation in situation that you have to manage first.

    Having a separate room that you can call your office is an advantage but if you do not have a spare room, you can designate any area within a room or kitchen that can serve the purpose. This will go a long way to indicate to the family and kids that when you are sitting there; you are working and are not be disturbed.

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    In the event that you have a spare room from where you work from, ensure that it gives an appearance of an office and that everything you need is nearby. Going out of your home office to fetch things in the family rooms can distract you from your assigned work. If the room you call your office is doubling up as something else too then it will be a good idea to place your files and folders in a manner that they are easily accessible.

    Having managed your work place you then have to attend to your time schedule. As you are working from home you can expect to be disturbed by social and familial duties during your working hours and the other way round.

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    Time management while working from home is as important as your having an earmarked office space. It requires scheduling your hours of work in a manner that you can attend to your work without being disturbed.

    Just because your working hours are not rigid when you are working from home they need not be so flexible that you loose the distinction between work and home life. It feels nice to have a break and spend time with family and kids but that can harm your work. The best way out is to have fixed office hours even if you are at home. The art of the game is to make the flexible working hours to work to your advantage rather than letting them hamper your work.

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    You can achieve this by scheduling your work well in advance. You have chosen to be your own master by working from home. It is just a change in the environment and not in the circumstances. There are certain things that come naturally when you are working in an office away from home. It is simply a matter of bringing the office discipline home. You have to adhere to that discipline during hours that you have earmarked for work. Some of those disciplines can be made to apply to your work at home situation by:

    • Conveying your office hours to family members, friends and relatives.
    • Switching on the answering machine during office hours.
    • Resisting temptations of working late simply because you are working from home.
    • Understanding the fact that just because you are working from home, you do not have to be always available for work.

    In the end, no matter how organized and disciplined you are, the very nature of working at home is that you are bound to get distracted. You have to make this to work to your advantage. If you are distracted, instead of getting agitated, take a break and consolidate your thoughts. This in a way can help you to come back to your work with renewed vigor.

    Being self-employed is a tough job. Working from home is even tougher. But this does not necessitate that you put your family life at stake. The art of balancing your work and family life, even when working from home, is a simple task and easily learned if you are inclined to.

    Vishal P. Rao runs the Work at Home Forum, an online community of those who work from home.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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