One reader said that she not only spends five minutes making her priority list for the day but she sets a timer once she starts working on a project. This is especially helpful for someone who knows that they work best when facing a deadline. I have to admit I use this timing technique all of the time even when I’m not working at home. Setting a timer helps to track the amount of time spent on different projects and it’s amazing what can happen when you set aside just 15 minutes to clean out part of your desk. When I do this I find myself in competition with the clock to get as much as possible done.
Turn off the e-mail on your computer. One reader called me to say she started keeping track of the number of times she checked her phone for e-mail in a day and to her surprise it added up to over 100 times! Sadly, I don’t think she is alone. You can access apps to actually keep track of how much you check your phone in a day just in case you are interested in tracking your own habits.
Stay away from social networking sites unless it’s your job to update them.
If you have young children at home and you need to get some work done, set up an interesting craft project for them to work on that they can complete without a lot of your assistance and let them know that you need a half hour or whatever the appropriate amount of time is to get something done or to be on the phone.
Someone else mentioned how useful she finds the mute button on her phone when on a conference call and the dog decides to bark or the kids launch into a brawl.
Get up and walk around the house at least every 60 to 90 minutes – setting the timer for this to make sure you do it and that you take a break for snacks and meals is important.
Have everything that you need handy. Set up your files, get paper, pens, etc. ready before you need them. Otherwise, you will find yourself rummaging through the junk drawer and even deciding that organizing it right now is more important than the deadline you are working on for a project.
People who work from home can fall into the trap of not being able to set boundaries between work and family life. It helps to set a time or even an alarm to signal when the workday is done and stick to it.
Thanks to everyone who got in touch with me or wrote to share ideas!