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Pro and Cons of Working from Home

Pro and Cons of Working from Home
House

There are many reasons for setting up office at home. One might need to be with the children or maybe saving office rent is a requirement. Just like there are innumerable reasons for working from home similarly there are many pros and cons that one must consider when setting up shop in the house.

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When you are working in a formal set-up, all the advantages of working from home seem to come to our minds. And many people often get attracted by the whole idea of being ones own boss. And there is no doubt about the fact that there are many rewards of working from home.

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  • More time with children – One of the main advantages of working from home is that one gets to spend much more time with the children. Monitoring their progress and providing them with the guidance that they may need for their development becomes easier.
  • Reduction in travel time – Another major advantage is that travel time is saved. Millions of people waste hours traveling to-and-fro from work. In fact commercial cities have unbearable traffic during the office hours that are aptly called the ‘rush hours’.
  • Savings in wardrobe – Not having to maintain a formal wardrobe is another aspect of working from home that is advantageous. There is no need to get into a suit or other such formal wear while working from home. One can just work in comfortable casual clothing and that might actually increase productivity.
  • Savings in office rent – If you have a separate office of your own and do not work for another company, working from home can mean a huge saving in office rent.
  • Savings in taxes – Taxes can be saved by ensuring a thorough filing of expenses that one incurs.
  • Some fixed expenses can be shared – Incidental expenses are lowered since they are shared by the home as well as the office. Telephone, stationary and other such overhead expenses are shared between the house as well as the office thus cutting cost if it is a personal business.
  • Flexibility – There is a lot of flexibility that comes with working from home. You can decide your own timings and can accommodate other tasks that need to be accomplished.

But life is not all rosy when working from home. On the flip side of the coin the disadvantages of working from home are aplenty too.

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  • Slips into slackness – Since there is no pressure to start work at a certain time or dress a certain way it is very easy to delay the start of work. Productivity can seriously decrease under such circumstances if great self discipline is not maintained.
  • Pressing personal chores – Personal chores can mount and get extremely difficult to avoid when one is at home. The tasks can be overwhelming and one could fall prey to it. Tasks that would otherwise take only fifteen minutes can end up taking up a lot more time.
  • Lack of competitive spirit – A major disadvantage of working from home is lack of human interaction. Colleagues and peers help in keeping the competitive spirit alive and enhance productivity. Going to office is a great way to get away from the stress at home and vice versa but if office is at home then there might be no escaping the stress.

With virtual offices being set up across the world working from home is no longer a thing of the past. Following a few simple tips and maintaining a high discipline can overshadow the cons and let you reap the fruits of the benefits.

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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 April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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