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12 Essential Things You Need In Order To Work From Home Productively

12 Essential Things You Need In Order To Work From Home Productively
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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