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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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