When I was growing up, I don't remember people having home offices. I do remember the crazy long office hours people worked back then. Fast forward 15 years and that's just not how the world works anymore. Even the most successful people rarely work office hours like that. Not because they're not working just as hard, but because everyone is working everywhere. Between laptops and smart phones, it's all covered. Most people who have any additional square footage to spare are using it towards a home office. You save money, you have healthier snacks (usually) and can have your dog snuggling at your feet. Awesome! Throw in a little Facebook, Twitter and Net-A-Porter and we are on all the time! We use less secretaries, more Wi-Fi. Less face to face meetings, more Skype. Less lunches, more conference video chats. It is how we live now. This is indeed the new normal.
I work from home about two to three days a week. It's how I like to roll. In fact, its how a lot of us like to roll. So how do you stay charged up? How do you stay motivated? How do you make it all work efficiently so there is more time to spend with actual people like family and friends? Most people I talk to say it's all about finding a balance between the blurred lines of work and home. It's really about working smarter, right? I mean, not chopping it down to a four hour work week, but just working less. It all boils down to working efficiently. How can you do that?
Create a Fabulous Work Space
Whether you have a corner in the bedroom or a whole finished basement, make it nice. Make it formal. You will work more efficiently than you will sitting at the kitchen table. Make it pleasing to the eye, regardless of your means. Decorate, even just a little. Paint if you can. You'll feel better. It doesn't have to be expensive. I just spotted a fabulous saw horse desk for under $300 on a website called Mercantila.com. Throw in a cute vintage chair or a utility-inspired vibe and you've got yourself a chic little office. You would be surprised at the new cute offerings now selling at Office Depot. Have a look yourself. You will work more efficiently, I promise.
Buy Good Electronics
Get the best computer you can afford. Buy the best smart phone you can afford. A decent scanner/printer/fax. Try and make sure your Wi-Fi access is in good working order, nothing is more annoying than that. I always say buy the best you can afford because it hurts less. Every time a cheap purchase breaks or works inefficiently, you wince. Buy quality, you wince once -- makes you more productive. I have been using the HTC Radar Windows Phone and love the variety of "one touch" features that streamline everything. I also dig the snappy, customizable graphics -- good stuff and a formidable alternative to other smart phones. Check it out here: http://www.windowsphone.com/.
Create "Office" Hours
Start at a time that is reasonable and end at a time that is, also. Mentally, this will push you to stay focused on your work within your "working hours". This way, after work is really a time where you can relax and wind down to allow yourself to recharge! Have a beer, go to the gym, do whatever makes your heart sing.
Get Out And Talk to People
When you work from home, it can get lonely and boring. This I know firsthand. Stay in touch with family and friends by scheduling a lunch date or even a cup of coffee. If you have the right electronics, you can still be in touch with work if need be. Don't let the UPS guy be the only human contact you have all day. No matter how cute he is. Just saying..
I am a very goal driven person. I have daily goals, weekly, monthly and yearly. OK, maybe this is a little excessive for some but it works for me rather well. It's my daily map. If I stay on course today, tomorrow I move forth more effectively and swifter. It's the most inexpensive way to stay on course. Write down your well defined goals and read them every morning when you start working and every evening when you shut down. This will keep you motivated and focused. Goals work. Everyone should have them! A person without goals is like a ship without a captain.
So, how are you going to recharge your work style this year? Revamp it and get ready to soar.
Now, isn't that a fabulous thought?
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