As we blossom into the information age, more and more people are finding that all they need in order to work is a computer and a solid internet connection. Telecommuting can save on the overhead costs of an office space, and provide an excellent work-life balance that can be a perk to workers, allowing you to compete with companies that offer higher wages but less flexibility.
However, there are some disadvantages to working from home. For one thing, it can be difficult to still feel connected to your coworkers and to build the new ideas and company culture that arise from spontaneous moments together. For another, working from home requires huge discipline to stay on task and hit deadlines. However, with the right techniques, it’s easy to make working from home an effective and worthwhile system for you. Here are some of our best suggestions for people who work from home. These tips can help you get the job done, save money, and keep your home life harmonious.
Have a good internet connection
Before you do anything else, make sure that this is squared away. You can’t get anything done if you are constantly battling with the router and making calls to your internet provider. Make sure that you have more bandwidth and faster speed than you’d expect from the usual home package. In fact, just imagine what you’d want if you were a serious gamer and go with that. Usually, work requires more downloading and streaming than people expect. Your job might depend on your ability to video chat with clients and coworkers, how fast you’re able to get something done, or if you’re able to download a zipped file that someone just emailed.
Take advantage of tax breaks
One of the best things about working from home is that you can use tax breaks to make improvements in your home that will be beneficial for both work and other things. For example, you might think about making some changes to make your home more energy-efficient. You might get a write-off on your internet payments and the cost of your computer and other equipment. You might even be able to save money on transportation costs, if your job also includes getting to location. Here’s a great list of possible tax deductions for people who work from home. Remember to check for specific deductions in your state and consult with an accountant to get the most out of your tax deductions.
Put filters on your browser to minimize distractions
The internet is a distraction machine! You might go to check out a notification on social media, and then suddenly realize an hour later how much time you wasted looking at fail videos. It’s easier to stay on task when we’re in an office and we have other people keeping us focused. At home, we’re probably used to following our fancy down the rabbit hole.
In order to prevent this problem, think about putting filters on your computer. You might find the best way to do this is with a children-focused filter. There are also options for “no-distraction mode” on many browsers and programs.
Schedule meetings at the beginning of a work block
A great way to urge yourself into productivity by utilizing the power of social pressure is by scheduling meetings and calls at the beginning of the day, or after a break. This helps you to get back into work mode. Talking with others about work will help you to refocus and force you to be up on things. You can do this personally just by setting up calls with clients at the beginning of a work period, or ask for something of a “stand-up meeting” with a team or supervisor at the beginning of a work day so you can touch base with each other and remind yourself of your tasks and duties that day. It also forces you to be ready to go at a certain hour every day, so that you don’t procrastinate starting work.
Log your time and keep to a schedule
Speaking of procrastinating, usually the best way to work from home effectively is to pretend that you’re not working from home. Stick to regular work hours, and be rigid in that schedule. Don’t allow yourself to think, “Oh, well, I can just go shopping first and then get back to work.” If you wouldn’t do it while working in an office, keep it out of your work-at-home schedule too. Log your time scrupulously and make sure that work happens within a certain window. It’s all too easy to postpone it through the day, thinking that you’ll be able to take care of it later. And when later comes, you realize that everyone else expects certain after-work things of you, whether that’s an evening out or errands that need to get done.