Stay on track in home office

Amid growing concerns about catching a bug from being in a crowd, working from home makes increasing sense for many, specially if your employer allows it.
The home office is nothing new. But if you are new to the game, keep in mind that operating from a home office takes some discipline and organization. There is no commute. There is no need to dress up, or so you think. There is no distraction from coworkers. Nor do you need to worry about distracting them. But here’s the flip side: one actually has to try harder to stay on track, get work done, and do without the company and camaraderie of coworkers.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Set a routine. Yes, set your alarm, get up as if you have to go out to work. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Have breakfast. Change into work clothes. Why? The physical motions of getting ready help prep you mentally for the work day at home. Working at home does not mean staying in bed in your jammies for as long as you like.
Manage your time. Working from home saves you commute time. Use that time productively. It could mean making a more interesting breakfast. Or it could give you time to read the news, catch up with the world, or do exercise, a few stretches to get the blood pumping, to limber up, or a few extra minutes of cuddle time with your toddler.
Set your schedule. Try to start work and end your day the same time as you would at the office. Time your breaks similarly. It is so easy to lose track of time when working alone. There are no colleagues to stop by and check if you’re ready for a snack or lunch. But take those breaks anyway, get a drink of water, step outside for fresh air and sunshine, stretch your back muscles, rest your fingers and eyes if you’ve been on your computer all the while.
Set up your work space. Pick a spot that gives enough room for work paraphernalia: paper, pen, phone, computer, desk lamp. The well-lit space should be away from distractions. So certainly, not in front of the television set nor beside the kitchen stove or fridge. There should be a proper place for the computer. Do not plan to work on the sofa with the laptop on your lap… sofas tend to encourage slouching. Bad for your back. The laptop gets uncomfortably hot. And not in bed. You’re up already, right? A table with a wide enough surface for your things will do. A chair at the right height with a comfortable seat is important. A power outlet nearby is good, for your computer’s power supply and to keep your smart phone juiced up. So is a phone jack if you need to use a landline.
Avoid distractions. If you have a stay-home spouse, make it clear during work hours, your focus is work. If there are young ones, help them understand you can’t play with them on demand. If there are kasambahay, let them know they are not to enter your work space willy nilly for every little reason. Turn off social media and messaging apps, unless you need to stay in touch with the office that way. Because there is no way to tell who just sent you a message, it takes “won’t power” to check new messages and not look at the latest chika from a neighbor.
Organize and clean up.
Tidy up. Clean up. Keep things organized. At home, if your kasambahay doesn’t do it, then you do it. Garbage should be in the trash bin. A full trash bin should be emptied. My trash bin is only for papers, envelopes and the like. Nothing that will stink up and attract ants, like candy wrapper or banana peel. Things on your work desk or table should stay organized, have a place for everything. If you have a permanent arrangement to work from home, then invest in shelves and a chest of drawers, so papers and accouterments, such as pen and paper clips, have somewhere to go. Keeping the work space clean and organized pays off when you need to find things quickly, like the project report that should have been reviewed yesterday.
Stay in touch. Do not disappear off the horizon. When there are joint projects, call your colleagues instead of messaging them. Drop into the office once in a while for face-to-face meetings. After work on the occasional Friday or Saturday, join them for an afterwork beer and pica-pica.
Bond. Humans are social animals.Maintain a physical presence. You want to be remembered when there is serious partying ahead, and more importantly, when promotions are about to be handed out.
Working at home has its rewards. Some people miss the social contact. But when it is a necessity, such as preventing a health epidemic, consider it a viable alternative. You might even find yourself more productive when working from home. For some, it is a lifestyle.

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