ASK THE COACH
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Self-Discipline Needed to Work from Home
By Dr. Ray Angelini
July 24, 2001
Dear Dr. Ray,
I have recently transitioned form working at an office in Albany to working at home. I am finding it difficult in terms of being as productive at home as I was at the office. What would you recommend?
— Homework Hal
Many people have opted out of the office scene and are choosing to work at home. However, working at home presents certain challenges that you don't encounter when working at the office. The three greatest challenges are self-discipline, minimizing distractions and keeping things interesting and exciting.
With respect to discipline, it is often quite helpful to set deadlines that have positive or negative consequences. The decision as to what type of consequences you set will depend largely on what type of reinforcement you have traditionally responded to best when working at the office. The bottom line here is that when you believe you have to get something done, you usually do it!
It is also quite helpful to have a friend, coach or colleague to keep you focused. Relying on others to stay focused and productive has both its advantages and pitfalls, but again, you need to know yourself well enough to know if this approach is likely to work well for you. Similarly, developing a routine is often helpful. Again, some people work better with a schedule, others don't.
It is critical to become more aware of your style and preferences in terms of deciding strategies that will be particularly effective for you.
With respect to minimizing distractions, I strongly recommend having a home office that is as far removed from the daily household hustle and bustle as possible.
A separate phone and fax line is a must, as are having the equipment necessary to do your job in a convenient manner. Having a small refrigerator in your office is also helpful, as this will eliminate one more reason to leave your home office and re-enter the home environment.
This is not to say that you can never leave your home office, but the tendency when working at home is to wander into the rest of the house far too frequently, thus adversely affecting your productivity.
Finally, it is vitally important to keep things interesting and exciting. Home office workers often report missing the stimulation that working in a business office provides in terms of interaction with fellow workers, etc.
It is important to get your day off to a good start. Make sure that your getting-started routine is something that you will like. Also, it is a great idea to plan something exciting and interesting for your first task of the day. This will get you off on the right foot and keep you more focused throughout your workday.
Keeping in contact with your co-workers is very important. Regular phone and email contact is essential to maintaining connections with your co-workers at the office and will also provide much needed stimulation and interaction.
While working at home can be challenging, it can be a rewarding experience if proper steps are taken to maintain discipline and interest and minimize distractions.