Thursday, April 15, 2010

6 ways to stay motivated when you work at home.

I telecommute.  Soft Flex Company is located in Sonoma, Ca.  I live in Phoenix, AZ. I get asked frequently about how I started working for Soft Flex when I live in an entirely different state.  I guess some things are just meant to be.  I met the right person, at the right time and had the right circumstances happening in my life to make it work.  At first, I was hired as a sales representative for Soft Flex at trade shows.  It didn't matter where I lived because I had to travel regardless.  We went everywhere - Houston, Memphis, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore, Santa Monica, Seattle, Portland, Denver, etc. The next thing I knew, I had a home office and when I wasn't traveling I was working from home.  My responsibilities have grown over the years and now I travel infrequently.  Working from home has its pros and cons. I thought that I would share a few words of wisdom that I've learned over the years.

  • Keep a "to do" list.  It is far too easy to get distracted when you are at home. When you accomplish a task, mark it off on your list and see what is next.  This will keep you from losing track of what is most important.  My "to do" list often lists my short term goals as well as my long term goals. 
  • Keep a regular schedule.  Try to start and end work around the same time each day.  Give yourself enough time in the morning to have a normal routine, eat breakfast, shower and get dressed.  I like to start my day with a cup of hot tea. Don't forget to take a break in the middle of the day like everyone in the "normal" world.  It is refreshing and especially nice if you can get outside.
  • Visit the outside world.  I'm a pretty social person.  Being alone all day, everyday can be really hard for me.  Poor Josh!  I have to remind myself everyday that he has been at work WITH people all day.  So when he comes home from work, he just wants to rest and have some quiet time.  I, on the other hand, have spent most if not all of the day WITHOUT people and am bursting with chitter chatter.  So, I try to break up my day and visit the outside world.  I'll get a coffee or grab lunch outside of my home, go hiking early in the morning to visit the local gym.  Set up face-to-face meetings with co-workers or peers.  My co-worker Kristen and I try to grab lunch and meet face-to-face once a month.  We often leave this meeting feeling refreshed and inspired.
  • Make connections online.  Did I mention that I'm a pretty social person?  Along with going out into the outside world, use online tools to connect.  Tools like instant messenger, facebook, linkedin and twitter are a great way to feel connected to other people in the world.  Social media is a great way to collaborate and keep in touch.  The telecommuters in our company use instant messenger on a daily basis.  It is nice to be able to quickly chat about work without a formal phone call.  
  • Work space.  Being at home means that you can create your own work environment.  Maybe that's a desk.  Maybe its the kitchen table. Maybe it is a combination of several work spaces. I have a desk and I have a beading table, but I find that I am most comfortable in my living room.  I've moved a few times over the years and I've found my work space to be different in each home.  Wherever it is, be sure that at the end of the day, you can switch from being at work to being at home. 
  • Background noise.  I'm sure that not everyone needs this.  I'm sure that some people like silence when they work.  I'm not one of those people.  I usually have something running in the background - music, television, the news...something.  If nothing else, it helps me keep track of time.
Do you work at home?  Do you have some valuable advice to share about how to be most efficient and stay motivated.  What does your work space look like?

8 comments:

beadphoria said...

Hi Sara!
Great article!
One of my essential tools for working at home is a timer. I know that sounds strange, but if I have a task that I have to focus on (aka - really don't want to do), I set my timer for 15 minutes. It is amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes!

In Beads and Happiness,
Suzann Sladcik Wilson

Softflexgirl said...

Very smart! I can see how that might help. I usually reserve coffee for days that I have tasks that I don't particularly like to do. I'm always ready to tackle more when I have a little coffee in my system. :)

Carole said...

I work at home 3-4 days a week, and I agree 100$ that the most important thing is to set a schedule for yourself. I get up, shower, drive my son to school, and when I get back, I get breakfast and take it into my office to read my e-mail while I eat. When that's done, it's time to dive into my projects for the day. I plan those the night before, so there's no fooling around in the morning.

LissC said...

Great ideas here. Thanks so much for sharing! I've worked at home doing both a "office" job and doing beading. Beading is no problem as I love it so much I roll out of bed and into my beading area every morning. However the office job at home was trying. It made for the longest days when I worked at home versus days I worked in the office. It's so easy to get distracted by things like laundry, vacuming, the dog needing to go out. Even with my beading as much as I love it I do find times when I am bouncing in and out of my seat and can't seem to stay still long enough to accomplish anything.

I like the to do list, and the set schedule you recommended. Great ideas. Also my cousin works from home, she once said that every morning she got up and dressed, did her makeup and hair just as if she were going out to work and that helped her to be more motivated and focused too.

Thanks again for sharing your great ideas! I will be sure to implement some of them into my routine.

JustATish said...

Awesome ideas - and so true. Thank you for sharing this

Rose said...

Thank you for those tips! I certainly need all the tips people have for staying motivated at home :D

TesoriTrovati said...

It sounds like the perfect arrangement...I hope to be in the right place at the right time someday ;-)
Setting up a special place to call your own, whether it is your home office or studio, away from the regular concerns of your home life would be key to me. I am blessed to have a wonderful studio space. Someday I plan to have doors to close it off, and to keep me in ;-)

I think that it is heartening to see people like you living your dream job. There is hope for the rest of us.

Great tips! I will come back and re-read these. Enjoy the day! Erin

Softflexgirl said...

I'm glad that you all found this post so helpful. I figured that there were quite a few of my readers who also work from home too. I definitely have a lot of experience in this area.

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