Sunday, 3 July 2011

Homework not housework


Once upon a time working from home was shorthand for waiting in for a washing machine to be delivered. Fine for a one off but impossible to do full time. Now with broadband, laptop’s, Skype and robots (ok I made that last one up) having a home office is fast becoming the smart way to eliminate time wasting travel and work in a more flexible way. Its practical, its cheep and for working mums its often an ideal way to continue a career in-between the tyranny of the school run.
Working from home may seem like the answer to all your prayers and swapping the inane chat of work colleagues for Woman’s hour is in itself a thing of joy but it’s worth remembering that the pros of working at home are also the cons.
Not having to leave the house may mean less time wasted on the dreaded commute (no more listening to the tinny beats of an overloud i-pod on the train or scraping ice off your windscreen at 7am on winter mornings) but it will mean you have to discipline yourself to ignore household obligations and get down to the task in hand. Procrastination in the form of the ironing pile is not unheard of and daytime telly has to become a no no. Watching the Wright Stuff is not “research” it’s skiving.
So how do you change your mindset from duvet dayer to office worker?
One of the easiest ways is to create a workspace that screams productivity.  If you are lucky enough to have an entire room to devote to your office this is an easier task-keep all family life out as much as possible (no Lakeland catalogues nestling next to the report you need to read) and once the door is shut behind you consider yourself at work. Give yourself scheduled breaks and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by what next door is doing in the garden or by poking people on facebook.
If you are having to work from the kitchen table or in the space under the stairs  (like Harry Potter with a laptop) try and ensure your working area is free of any other household clutter and invest in some file boxes so all paperwork can be neatly stored away. This will be your saving grace once the family come home and your “hot desk” becomes unrecognisable under that particular brand of debris, which can only be created by children. Like space junk but stickier.
Educating others that being at home is not the same as being available is possibly one of the greatest hurdles to overcome. You may find at first that friends think its fine to drop over for coffee -its not. You are not Starbucks despite what the squashy sofa and magazines strewn everywhere might suggest. Keep that kettle switched off.
Working from home does allow a certain sense of personal freedom and this can be harnessed to great effect-if you are having trouble with a particular problem or need to formulate a plan of action being able to step outside into the garden for a few minutes to clear your head can make all the difference and with no outside distractions you will be amazed how more efficient you will become. Try and remember to get dressed occasionally though-padding around in your dressing gown may be liberating to begin with but meeting clients wearing reindeer slippers may not give the right impression.

Copyright Betty Pamper  2011

2 comments:

  1. Great article! I think working from home is really extremely difficult - for all the reason you've stated and most importantly for me - because there is no one else around to bounce ideas off of - to have a moan to, or just a good laugh! However, the freedom is priceless - and I don't think I could sit in an office ever again from 9am to 5pm!

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  2. Thanks for that. it is a strange world you inhabit when you start working from home and I agree you miss having a laugh around the water cooler, however Im with you and could never go back

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