Wednesday, January 13, 2010

7 Tips to Maximize Performance at the home offices

Now that I work at home, I often joke that I'm going to the "Downtown office" (Chick-fil-a) or the "Home Office" (my walk-in closet w/ desk) or "Corporate Office" (legal office where our Elders meet). Coming from a recovering Civil Engineer in a large firm and former youth pastor in a large church, this is quite a change.

I've been working from home now for nearly 4 years. I've moved from dealing with it to liking it to almost loving it. The advantages are extensive. Do I miss the interaction with a staff/team--definitely. Maybe the most. But I love being at home more with my family and I love the flexibility. In doing what I do (pastor) it helps our family stay in touch with the heartbeat of our church. And it feels less like a job and more like the calling it really is.

That said, Greg Darely's 7 Tips are terrific wisdom for the person who works from home. I've shared it in full below. The link is above and I look forward to your comments. I have some myself. In fact, if you work at home, send me a pic of your office. I'd love to see and post them in the days ahead.

From the "Downtown Office", enjoy!

"Downtown Office" Chick-fil-a Summerville, SC
(this place rocks! Thx to Chris & the crew)

If you work out of the home full time or just occasionally, you know there are positive and negative points to this arrangement. The positives include: no travel time, no fighting traffic, no facing the cold weather, numerous work stations, food in the kitchen, the ability to do chores around the house if necessary, and not having to pay for a baby sitter. While those are great, there are negatives as well: possible distractions from spouse, roommates or children, no accountability for hours, no set lunch break, and less interactions with people. But for many, the positives greatly out weigh the negatives and by focusing on a few key areas, you can maximize your performance from the home office. The main principle is to work from home the way you would if you were working for someone else at the office.
Here are some tips:
1. Set Office Hours: Every other job gives you required hours to work. Do the same at home. Set a start time and a leave time. Try and start every morning at the same time. For me it’s exercise, shower, breakfast, reading and then going into my office at 8 am.

2. Get dressed like you were going into a real office. No one would show up to the bank in their boxers and a t-shirt. Put on a real work outfit. This doesn’t have to be a three-piece suit, but be ready to walk out the door for an appointment at any given time. There is great mental and emotional preparation as well. By being full dressed, you send messages to your self that you are there to get a lot accomplished.
3. Go to your office and shut the door. This is another great mental step for success. By going into the office and shutting the door, you are telling yourself that you are there to work and get a lot accomplished. If this is not possible, then find a corner in a room and set up a desk and turn your back the main part of the room. The key here is the act. This also shuts yourself off from many distractions like other people in the house, the TV and the refrigerator.
4. Don’t cut on the TV. Unless your job absolutely requires that you watch TV, then by pass the remote. Starting the day off listening to how bad the traffic is, what crime was committed across town or how much money they’re spending in D.C. will not get your day off to the positive start you need. Plus, the TV is one of the biggest time sucks besides the internet.
5. Only go to the kitchen for lunch and an occasional snack. This will save you time and the extra pounds. It’s good to stand up, stretch and walk around for a few minutes after every hour of work. Its good for your creativity and production. But, don’t get into the habit of wandering into the kitchen because the left over cake, the box of gold-fish or box of M&Ms will be calling your name to often. Keep a snack or two and some water in your office.
6. Run errands only during certain hours of the day. Planning them out for the week is a good idea as well. If you were working a regular job, you wouldn’t run to the bank at 10 am, the gym at 1:30 and the grocery store at 3. By constraining them to certain times a week and on certain hours in the day, you’ll save loads of productive time.
7. If you have a spouse, children or roommates that are home during work hours, ask them not to disturb you unless it’s important. Now, you don’t want to be rude or inconsiderate, especially if there are children in the picture, but they need to know that you have responsibilities to meet and you need their help guarding your time.
Any other tips?