Tips For Working At Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Management Key To Successful Home Office
by Jeffrey Reed
https://jeffreyreedreporting.com 

During this time of uncertainty, countless workers have been forced to trade in their office cubicles for the comforts of home. Concurrently, a lot of you are attempting to put in a 9-to-5 effort within unfamiliar surroundings.

The home office is not a new phenomenon, given the decades of Internet communication which, for some of us, have made the morning commute obsolete. But anyone working at home – and that includes yours truly, whose home office has been my principal place of work since 1989 – is doing so with the added stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-one years ago, when I launched my freelance communications business, those who defined their homes as their business headquarters were considered non-conformists at best. More than once when I would cut my lawn in the middle of the afternoon, a neighbour would ask me if I needed a job, and offered me one down at the plant. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact I was disciplined enough to work at home and to operate a successful business.

That’s not to say my home office launch wasn’t a modest one. Back then, my office consisted of a desk, dial telephone, typewriter, cassette recorder, film camera, book shelves, file cabinets and stacks of periodicals. When I needed deeper research material, I dove into the microfilm at the central branch of the London Public Library. Of course, the Internet changed that forever.

Today, my home office takes up considerably less space, again because of Internet resources, but that’s not the only change. In fact, there are a number of elements necessary to creating a proper home work space. And in turn, you will be much more productive, whether you are working full-time at home on a temporary basis, or are planning to make a permanent move from the ivory tower to the suburbs.

Here are some tips for maximizing comfort and productivity at your home office:

1. Time management is your best friend. Each evening, I update my planner file, which, in my case as a freelance reporter and corporate communications professional, includes three sections: a list of story and photo assignments, including deadlines; a list of people to contact – by telephone and by email; and list of things to do, both at my home office and (to a dramatic lesser degree during social distancing) outside my home. Without this list, I would waste time due to disorganization. I also highlight the most important and time-sensitive items on those lists.

2. Keep regular hours and a routine. When I started working from home, I thought a four-hour workday was a major accomplishment. Wrong. In fact, for decades, my living space has been turned upside down: I have an office, where I also live with my wife, sleep, eat, watch TV, enjoy hobbies and landscape. For most people, home is only a home, and includes very little work time that can be done with a laptop on the living room couch. My work-home ratio is a trade-off because I love my job to the point where I feel like I haven’t worked a day in over 30 years. But it’s not for everyone. Still, it is imperative to wake at a regular time, set goals for each workday and structure your workday as you would at your normal place of business. Otherwise, a chaotic schedule will result in very little productivity.

3. Take regular breaks and get outdoors. In fact, if you leave your desk at least once an hour for a 15-minute break, then you’ll be much more productive. Take a regular lunch hour, too, and don’t eat in front of your computer screen. On that note, skip the chips and dip for healthy food choices, and limit your coffee intake. Working at home does not mean you are on vacation and ignoring healthy lifestyle decisions. When weather permits, I try to get outdoors for at least an hour for a hike through the woods. Social distancing is limiting a lot of that mobility, hence the importance of home exercise.

4. Delete distractions. When my wife has a day off, I will often close my office door in order to concentrate on the tasks at hand, whether that means updating my websites, researching, writing or photo editing. The TV is off. In fact, I will often not answer the door when I am writing – over the years, family and friends have learned that just because my car is in the garage doesn’t mean I’m accessible.

5. Create a comfortable workspace. My home office is über ergonomic, with proper desk, keyboard tray and terminal height, ObusForme chair cushions, gel wrist support and foot stool. A book/document holder is a great little tool for keeping papers in front of you. A telephone with quality speaker capability is a must – I use it constantly to multi-task. I’ve always found a C-shaped desk to work best: surround yourself with a combination of desk space and office tools.

6. Proper lighting is a must. My home office includes a large window overlooking our pond, a large mirror which gives the illusion of added space, and LED lights behind and above my desk.

7. Choose the best room. Ensure your workspace rests within a quiet zone. In other words, a nook in the kitchen won’t cut it. Also, avoid the basement if you can. The best air quality, open windows and proper lighting go a long way in creating a great workspace, and in turn you’ll look forward to working there each day.

8. Make your space comfortable. As a freelance journalist, I am only familiar with the 40-hour work week as it relates to others. When I’m writing a book on top of all of my other work, then days at my desk become longer. In my office, I am surrounded by sports memorabilia with special meaning, like my 1979 World Series baseball autographed by many of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and my Titleist tour bag with 2020 gear which, sadly, I haven’t had out on the links as of yet. I also have a quality C. Crane AM/FM radio which plays constantly.

On top of the aforementioned, make sure you take at least one day off every week where you shut off your screen, close your office door and do anything but work. When you return to work, you’ll be refreshed and more productive.

All of these tips sound great on paper, but they won’t work for you unless you buy into the importance of time-management skills.

That said, there are days when I find myself surfing the net more than I should, instead of writing. But if you follow the tips I offer, then you’ll be a much more productive worker at home.

For more home office tips, click here for a story I wrote on this topic for The London Free Press.

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Jeffrey Reed is a leading Canadian freelance communications professional with areas of expertise in journalism, and in corporate communications. A three-time author and winner of seven national and international writing awards, Reed has been called upon to deliver entrepreneurial tips to groups including the International Association of Business Communicators, London Association of Volunteer Administrators and London Chamber of Commerce. A communications professor with Fanshawe College’s Golf and Club Management Program, Reed is one of Canada’s leading golf journalists and publisher/editor of LondonOntarioGolf.com, and LondonOntarioSports.com. Reach him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office https://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com. Sports journalist since 1980.

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