As an independent consultant, you have the major benefit of getting to work from your own home. You don't have to commute to and from an office every day, which saves you money on gas. Your work schedule is suddenly much more flexible than it would have been. However, there's also a major downside to working from home - productivity. You may find yourself constantly distracted by pets, family members, errands, and even your own electronics. Luckily for you, we've compiled a list of tips to keep you on task and away from the television.
Define and separate your workspace from your living space.
Just because you can work from your living room couch doesn't necessarily mean that you should. You should have a defined space, preferably an entire room that is your dedicated work zone. A clearly defined boundary between your work and home space will help you shift from your "I'm at home" mentality to "I'm at work".
First and most importantly: buy yourself a comfortable chair. Since you'll be sitting in it for most of the day, you'll want something that isn't going to bother your back or cause various limbs to fall asleep. Invest in a printer that won't frustrate you by jamming every time you try to use it (consider purchasing one that's also a combination scanner/fax machine for convenience).
Next, whether your workspace is an entire converted den or just the corner of your bedroom, decorate. Make it pleasing to your tastes - and this doesn't need to be expensive. Hang a picture or two. Give the room a fresh coat of paint. You'll be surprised how much these little visual touches will make you actually want to spend time in your home office.
Since you don't have the structure of a physical office with a daily routine, you'll have to create one yourself to work effectively from home. Do whatever works for you. Maybe you can get up, have a cup of coffee, and start working right away. Maybe you'd rather go for a run, take a shower, have breakfast, and then get down to work. Whatever you do, make sure to schedule in periodic breaks for lunch and any errands you might need to run outside the home. Lastly, once you're done with work for the day, it may be tempting to go back and do one more little thing that you just remembered. Don't. Write it down and do it in the morning.
Know your distractions and avoid them.
Some people can work with the television on in the background or the radio playing all day, but many others find this distracting. If you're on your computer all day, social networking sites can also be a major problem. You can take short breaks throughout the day to check your Facebook or watch the local news, but avoiding major distractions will ultimately make you more productive. If you can simultaneously work and listen to music, a pair of noise canceling headphones can help drown out barking dogs and noisy neighbors that could be distracting but hard to avoid.
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