Month: May 2016

Avoiding distractions when working from home

OrganizationTelecommutingTime ManagementWork From HomeWorking Remotely

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: working from home is awesome. You can work in yoga pants on your patio, avoid a traumas of a long commute, avoid the distractions of your co-workers at the office, accept a mid-day delivery, and much, much more. But that’s not to say there are no distractions at home. In fact it can often be the very opposite. You can also be tempted to watch “just one episode” on Netflix, prepare everything on your “#EAAATS” Pinterest board, or talk yourself into a mid-afternoon nap.

So how do you strike the right balance between the freedom of remote work with the responsibility of being employed? Where does a break end and a distraction start? And what distractions are okay in moderation and what are simply inappropriate while on the job?

This one is hard and honestly, really varies based on what you do, who you work for (working full-time for a big company versus running your own business from your house are two very different things), and your personal work-style. Here’s my take on 5 specific distractions I’ve recently been asked about:

  1. TV. This is a don’t for me. I’ve written before about taking breaks and will say that watching a short program can be a part of my lunch sometimes. But I draw the line at having television on at any other point of the day. Maybe you’re one of those people who needs noise. I will never fully understand that 🙂 but I do understand that everyone works differently and some people may need light noise. Still, I say music is a much better option since TV is not only a proven distraction but call me old-fashioned, watching television simply doesn’t seem like something you should be doing while being paid to do your job. So whether you’re employed by a big company or have a couple clients in a business you run on your own, stay away from your flat screen while in work mode.
  2. Naps. This is another one I personally say not to do. Or at least spend some time really making a judgement call based on your situation. While some companies are beginning to encourage power naps during the day, to me sleeping at your own home is an activity that should reserved for when you’re not on the clock. With this said, everything is case-by-case; if you’re a salaried employee and tend to work 10 hour days starting at 5 am a mid-day nap might be just what you need. Again, use your judgment and gauge your personal situation.
  3. Social media. Ten years ago there’s no way you’d imagine checking Facebook or Twitter to be something that’s okay to do occasionally at work. But as these outlets evolve and increasingly become our news sources how we use them changes too. I would never advocate to have Facebook open all day (and will always say to use your own device versus your company computer!) but quickly checking to see what’s trending, reading an article tweeted about your industry, or even posting the occasional #tbt isn’t the end of the world.
  4. Using another personal device. In moderation I say this is fine. Checking the news via Twitter or on CNN.com, sure but editing photos on your MacBook or playing games on your tablet not so much.
  5. Doing other work. No. No, no no no no. One more time: no. Maybe you run a side business or write a blog (both like me!), if so read carefully: your slated time to work is to work. If you run your own business there may be more blurred lines and you have the discretion to toggle from one project to another, but if you are employed by a firm and are expected to work from 9-5 or bill hours do not use this time to do anything else.

There are some boundaries clearer than others but generally speaking if you have a company modern enough to be employing you as a remote worker you likely have some freedom. It comes down to the fact that you need to be a responsible, working adult. So keep that in mind before engaging in a behavior.

Still unsure? Try this: if you’d have a difficult time explaining your behavior to your manager (or it feels wrong to you!) then don’t do it.

How do you balance the distractions of your home office? Have you created any “rules” for yourself that you find particularly important or helpful to follow? Share in the comments below!

When You Can Work From Anywhere, Here’s How to Do It Well

TelecommutingTime ManagementTravelWork From HomeWorking Remotely

One of the great perks of being a remote worker is that you can work from anywhere. I have a work space in my home in Atlanta but I often work from my desk in my childhood bedroom when I visit my parents, or from a kitchen table when I visit friends, or from random coffee shops or even airports while in transit. It’s a huge perk for me but like everything else with this work from home life, it’s about give and take.

Last week (and a bit of the week before) I was traveling. I flew up to Boston, worked from my cousin’s place for a day and a half so that I was able to drive to my grandmother’s in Vermont Friday after work, then I headed to New Hampshire on Sunday to spend Mother’s Day with my other grandmother and family. After that I flew to Kentucky to work from my company HQ for a week.

It’s a perk that I personally value tremendously but it can be exhausting and not without its challenges (like scrambling in the dark to get the wifi to work before your hosts wake up since you are working on a different time zone!) Even with its challenges I am quite aware of the fact that my job is affording me this great benefit so I refuse to let my location choices negatively impact my performance. So how do I do that?

When I travel like this I ask myself what my priorities are. For me it often includes a range of items from seeing family and friends, exploring new areas, eating good (but healthy) food, exercising, writing blog posts (hi!), connecting with clients on my side business, giving myself some quiet time, oh, and of course excelling at my day job since again, they are enabling me to work like this. Like everything else in life it comes down to choices.

On the recent trip I described above, along with my full-time job my top priority was to see my family. That meant that I didn’t get to exercise as much as I normally would at home, I wasn’t able to prepare (or choose) my own meals, and I wasn’t able to blog for a week (sorry!) And that’s okay, because that’s the give and take of being able to be location agnostic.

People often envy what a WFH set up allows, and I certainly see where that comes from. But what they don’t always anticipate is that with it comes responsibility and the need to really ask yourself what a particular trip, or even day, is going to be about. It’s important for my to keep myself in check regarding so my work doesn’t sacrifice for the sake of the flexibility it affords me.

How do you take advantage of, and balance, your flexibility? Have you ever worked from a friend or family member’s home? What challenges and benefits has a remote set up afforded you and how do you manage it?