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At first thought, the idea of working at home sounds absolutely wonderful. There's no commute, no need to go to the...
At first thought, the idea of working at home sounds absolutely wonderful. There's no commute, no need to go to the office, and you can work all day in your pyjamas if you want. The problem is that you can just as easily laze around all day in your pyjamas, and that won't get anything done.
What makes it worse is that there's nothing better for wasting time than an internet-connected computer, and for most homeworkers that's their one essential tool.
For many homeworkers, it's entirely mental. You put them at home in their pyjamas, in front of their personal computer, and they're going to slack off. People are creatures of habit, of routine, and for most, that's the routine to set up for a lazy day at home: at home, check; not dressed, check; at the computer, check. That's a recipe for a personal high score on a favourite Facebook game. That's their habit and their routine.
The key to prevention is building new habits and creating new routines. Most people who work outside the home have routines they follow every workday morning: routines that get them mentally prepared for work. Homeworkers need to do the same thing.
Homeworkers need to get up, get dressed, and go to work without ever leaving the house. Humans are creatures of habit, and the best way to build new habits is to work with existing ones. So the first step to building the habit of working at home is to retain as many of the habits of working outside the home as possible.
That means getting up at a normal time and dressing for work. It also means having a dedicated area to work. There is no worse place for a homeworker to put their computer than the bedroom.
Whenever possible, it's a good idea to put the workspace, whether it's just a corner or a converted bedroom, on a different floor than where you sleep. Going up or down the stairs makes it easier to put your mind into work mode.
Then there's that internet-connected computer—the same computer that connects to social media and work. It's your biggest distraction, but you need it to work, too. The best option is to get a second computer for work. It's a great way to keep the distinction between a tool and a toy.
For some homeworkers, it's even worth it to get a Mac for work and a PC for play, or vice versa. That way the differences between the two environments can reinforce the work mindset. Others may just have to settle for a different user account on the same machine.
No two homeworkers will use exactly the same techniques to prevent slacking, but the two basic factors of habit and separation always apply. Follow a normal workday routine, and separate work from relaxation. It's the easiest way to prevent slacking when working at home.