Working from Home

Unless you have been asleep under a stone for the last month or so you will have heard the advice that people should work from home. This is to help avoid the spread of Coronavirus. I have been working for myself for a number of years now so working from home is not new for me, but I suspect that for many people it is a rather novel prospect.

Home Office

As with many situations and particularly those which are unfamiliar, it is usually better to do some planning and organising in advance. Based on my experience here are some of the things which should be considered.

Where will I Work?

The wonders of technology mean that it’s possible to work almost anywhere but be careful. The sofa in front of the TV might sound an attractive proposition but this will give you backache and the TV will prove to be too much of a distraction. Choose somewhere quiet with a table or desk and a comfortable chair. Ensure that everything you need is readily to hand and depending on your situation try to stay away from distractions such as pets, kids, etc. It is all too easy to waste time looking for missing pieces of the puzzle or pieces of paper or equipment. It is also too easy to find reasons to put off starting a task which is difficult or boring.

Laptop on Table

Choose somewhere which has a good solid work surface in range of power sockets with a comfortable seat, free from draughts and glare. An important issue which affected me for a while was that the most convenient place for my desk and computer was facing a window. Even though it was fitted with blinds, the sun in the morning was bright enough to make it almost impossible to see my computer screen. Now, as I am not a morning person this happens to suit me very well except for those times when I need to get something done in the morning and that can sometimes be difficult.

Establish a Routine

A two-minute commute to the office may on the face of it seem rather attractive. However, you should make yourself presentable. How presentable will depend on your mood and whether you will be conducting meetings using Skype, or any other means of visible communication. I’ve found that my appearance affects how I feel all day. If I slop around in a dressing gown I get very little done.

Plan your Day

I’ve found that it is important or me anyway to have a plan for the day. This is not a discipline where my record is flawless, however when I have a plan I almost always achieve far more than when I do not.

The cynical will point out that in War and Rugby a plan seldom survives the first contact with the enemy or in business the first phone call. However a plan will give some structure to your day and who knows, that first phone call may not come, at least for a while.

Know when to Stop

It is important to take a break every now and then. This could be 10 minutes for a cup of coffee or 20 minutes walk around the block with or without the dog. In any event, get up and walk around from time to time. It is also important to decide when to finish for the day. There might be a temptation to continue working late into the night particularly if you are alone. I would advise that you chose a finishing time and stick to it. As you become more tired you will become less effective. So choose a finish time and stick to it.

A Tool to Help

Over the last few years, I have found a piece of software to be very helpful in planning my day and in offering useful advice. Your most valuable assets are time, energy, and money but the most valuable is time because once it has gone, you can never get it back.

No tool has had more effect on my time than this one:

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