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TIPS & BEST PRACTISES

The number of people working from home has been increasing dramatically over the past few years. When compared to the previous year, 2015 saw a 26 percent increase in the number of remote jobs posted. However, there are many unique challenges for independent and employed persons that are working from home. The tips and advice found in this guide will make you more productive and help you lead a balanced lifestyle.

You're Still Going To Work

Even if your office is located at home, you should still have the attitude that you are going to work. Independent workers should set a specific time that signals the start of the work day. Don't hesitate to set an alarm clock to maintain order. This also prevents work from piling up on you until the last minute.

You don't have to dress formally, but get dressed as if you are going to a job. A productive mindset helps you complete wage earning activity. Wash up and be presentable. This has a practical side as well since video conferencing has become commonplace.

Keep A Schedule

The remainder of your day should adhere to some kind of schedule. Set aside time for lunch, and stick to it. Don't sacrifice this moment since you need a midday break. On the other hand, don't take a two hour lunch just because you're working from home. Get back to work, and finish the day on time with your chores accomplished. A schedule also prevents you from falling into the trap of overworking. Your mental health requires time with friends, family and plenty of non-work activity.

Also make sure you map out a weekly and monthly plan. This long term vision helps you distribute work evenly. Protect holiday weekends for celebration and relaxation.

Nothing Personal

While you are working, keep personal distractions down to a minimum. This means saving your social media and email time for after work hours. If possible, mute your personal cellphone or set a rule that only work related calls get answered. Don't spend too much time on personal phone calls. Finally, schedule visits with friends during non-working hours. Working at home gives you a measure of freedom, but if abused you'll find yourself not accomplishing much.

It Pays To Have A Home Office Space

If you can, dedicate your home office space exclusively to work. Try to treat it like regular office space, The family room or kitchen table are full of distractions that will only make your work day longer. You need privacy to concentrate on the job at hand which allows you to deliver quality work. A dedicated home office space has a financial benefit as well since self-employed workers can take a tax deduction for their home office in the UK and the US.

Stay With The Tech Curve

Make sure you are up to speed on technological applications and communication. For example virtual meeting tools such as GoToMeetingSkype and Google Hangouts increase your accessibility. Also file sharing tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive make collaboration easier. Remain versatile and up to date to ensure employer or client satisfaction.

Stay Focused

When you are working on a task, remain mentally dedicated to that one task. Turn off the music, switch your TV off and close all unrelated internet browser windows. The most productive people spend about 52 minutes working on a single task and then take a 17 minute break. Taking frequent micro-breaks to check your Facebook or Instagram can be counterproductive, and multitasking is actually a series of starts and stops which waste brain power in the end. Stay focused and get the job done faster.

Stand Up For Your Health

Sitting for prolonged periods of time can increase the risk of heart disease by 14 percent for each hour sitting. And going to the gym does not cancel out this risk. For this reason, you should take at least one break per hour to go for a short walk. Another useful option is to have a workspace where you can incorporate intervals of standing while you work, for example, at an elevated desk.

Also make sure your body is seated comfortably with your back upright and arms in a neutral position. Elbows should be flexed at around 90° and wrists kept straight. Proper ergonomics reduce the chances of back, neck and limb pain that can put you off work for weeks.

Finally, schedule social and family activity for things outside of the home. Or take up a hobby that requires real human interaction. Even though technology puts us in touch like never before, face-to-face interaction remains essential.

Plan For The Future

Just because you are working at home, doesn't mean you can't plan for your financial future. Make sure you look into setting up a retirement savings account either with your employer or on your own. Keep strict records of all your expenses (printer supplies, computer purchase, etc.) so that you can take the appropriate tax deductions or ask your employer for reimbursement. Working at home requires discipline to take advantage of benefits that might not seem obvious.

Look To Learn

If you work for a company, they might offer courses to help with your professional development. If you work independently, look for opportunities to perfect or expand your skills. The more you have to offer, the more valuable you are, either to the company or client. Plenty of organizations and websites offer free courses to expand your portfolio of skills.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Working at home might lead to a feeling of isolation. It also can become tedious since human contact is minimized. Be sure to pat yourself on the back every once in a while for the work you have completed. Be your own cheerleader, recharge your motivation, and know that your productivity makes a difference.
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