Remember when the home office meant your company’s headquarters? Many journalists never set foot in the home office, working instead from a local station, broadcast center or news bureau. But today, “home office” has an entirely different meaning for legions of journalists who freelance, work for Web outlets or run their own news sites. Working from home is both challenging and liberating. The key is to be aware of both the pluses and minuses.
A recent blog post, 7 tips to be productive when working from home, has some useful suggestions. Set goals, make schedules, avoid distractions–all good advice. But everyone’s different, and what works for Francis Tan may not work for you. “Treat your days like ‘regular’ work days,” he writes. “Many people have found that a 9-5 or 10-6 schedule really helps keep them on track and productive.” He also frowns on working in your PJs. And here I thought one advantage of working from home was the ability to set your own schedule and to wear whatever you want.
My advice? Decide what time of day is your most productive and put those hours on your work schedule. Early risers may find they get a lot of work done in the early morning hours, before anyone else is away. Night owls can be more productive after the rest of the household goes to sleep. By all means, keep some daytime “office hours” for conference calls and the like but don’t feel bound to them. Just keep your cell phone on so you can be reachable during everyone else’s office hours, even if you’re at the hardware store.
As for what you wear, I really think that’s up to you. Some folks do just fine in pajamas and slippers all day. (As the woman in the old telecommuting commercial chirped, “And I still don’t shower.”) Others need to dress up to feel business-like, at least when they’re taking work-related calls.
One point on which I completely agree with Tan: Know when to stop. Some people find that working from home means working 24/7. They answer every call, no matter how late it comes in. They respond to email on Saturday nights. It’s understandable to be anxious about having enough work when you first start freelancing, but there’s no need to overdo it. Those people who are trying to reach you are used to voice mail. Let them leave you a message. It’s OK.
What are your tips for making the most of working from home?