The best part of working at home may be the fact that you can wear your pajamas during conference calls …
… and you can drink a glass of wine while you are answering emails, and no one will look at you like you are losing your mind.
Although for weeks at a time, no one might look at you at all.
Making working at home quite perfect if you are a lone wolf!
Unfortunately, keeping yourself accountable while you are working at home is a whole task in itself …
Without a “boss” to look over your shoulder:
- Who is going to make sure that you meet your goals?
- Who will you compete with to keep your work sharp and up-to-date?
- Who will push your buttons and irritate you or inspire you?
One of the most challenging tasks to maintain while you work from home is always going to be holding yourself accountable.
Designate a Home Office Space
While we all understand that working from home has its benefits, many people are not aware of some of the difficulties.
Keeping the children out of your home office is tough in itself, and even more difficult is keeping their hands off of your printer paper … which they promptly cut into snowflakes or use for airplanes.
Designating a home office space is the first step to keeping yourself accountable in all areas of your work-at-home life.
When you worked out of the home, you had an office or at least a cubicle. You need this space at home, as well.
You might not have spare square-footage in your home to create a full office, but you have to have at minimum a section of the kitchen table that is yours and yours alone.
Once you enter your workspace, you have to treat it like you have arrived at the office.
Make sure that the family understands that you have gone to work, and you are not to be disturbed.
Once they understand this announcement, there is no excuse for you to wander out of your office space.
Working Without Interruptions
Allowing yourself to work without interruptions is a crucial step toward keeping yourself accountable while you are working from home.
However, this task is much easier said than done.
- The phone rings, and it is your cousin from out of state, and you end up talking for an hour.
- The doorbell rings, and it is your neighbor with an interesting story about another neighbor, and suddenly, its lunchtime.
Just because you are working at home does not mean that other people will respect your work or your workday.
Putting a sign on the door when you are working or at least letting friends and family know that you are not to be disturbed is a lot less rude than running someone out of your office so that you can get something or anything accomplished.
Of course, those very same people would never barge into your employer’s office and interrupt your workday.
So, although it may seem harsh, set the rules and stick to them.
Call your office a “home office” when you explain your job to friends. Make sure to use words that convey the importance of your “office” while leaving out the part about how you are working in a t-shirt and shorts.
Keeping the business end of your work at home life separate from the social part will make an enormous difference when it comes to accountability.
Talk to the Office
Working from home does not have to isolate you completely from the rest of the world. Once a day or once a week, schedule a meeting with someone in your field.
This means that you need to contact someone from the outside world and have some face-to-face time with them.
At the very least, schedule a phone conversation with someone that you respect who also works in your field.
You will be amazed at how many conversations can lead to ideas and how those ideas will add life to your work.
Since you do not have access to the water-cooler conversation or the lunchtime chats at the office, you need to schedule some dialogue for the home office.
It’s not a waste of time to network and keep in touch with like-minded people; it’s actually vital for your productivity.
If you’re a freelancer, talking to your employer once a week will make you feel more comfortable in your working at home position.
If frequent emails or Skype and Slack conversations will keep you in touch with the others, allow yourself plenty of contact.
Isolation is one of the major complaints from work at home employees, so nip that one in the bud immediately.
If you do not have the type of job that allows you contact with other like-minded people on a regular basis – at least spend some time with someone else in a related field or someone else that works from home.
Touching Base with People
Touching base with people who understand your job and your situation is a terrific way to gain ideas and to keep yourself accountable.
Whether you discuss projects or schedules or just share complaints about the work, this contact will center you and refresh you.
Since your work at home status is still work, sharing the day with a friend or colleague can really help to lighten the load.
Another benefit to keeping in touch with colleagues is the updating.
Without access to the outside world, your knowledge stagnates. You need interaction to get those synapses firing and ideas flowing.
No one wants to spend their days surfing the Internet for inspiration, especially these days. Sharing time with a friend who works in your field is essential for the work at home employee.
Although working at home is a spectacular way to save transportation costs and cut down on the stress of commuting, it certainly is not for everyone.
Keep in mind that not every person does their best work outside the constraints of a regular office life.
- Some people require the pressure and stresses to keep them on their toes.
- Some people just cannot remain focused without the ups and downs of shared office life.
It takes a dedicated person to create a home office that is stable, enjoyable, and productive.