15 ways to maximize your home office productivity (Part 2)

Here, in part two of the blog, are not only additional tips regarding office related items, but some tips about you also.

As said last week, working at home can be your best friend or your worst nightmare based on a number of factors, including your personal discipline, home work environment, level of needed interaction with your coworkers, the ability of your boss to manage virtual teams, and a number of other related factors.

7. Backup electrical power: Having a backup generator for your home obviously has many personal advantages. It also has a huge work-related advantage. It lets you continue to work even after the power goes out. If you give webinars, make remote client presentations, and/or are involved in multiple daily conference calls, having the power out in your home will not only cause the food in your freezer to defrost, it will also cost you two days work and potentially two days revenue. If you can’t (or don’t want to) get a backup power supply for your home, at least buying a small charger can keep your PC and cell phone running. This small purchase will let you work by candle light if needed, unless, of course, you have other things in mind.

8. General office stuff: In short, keep your work supply cabinet well stocked. Something as simple as running out of printer ink, printer paper, stamps, envelopes, or other office staples (yes, the pun is intended) can cost you an unexpected trip to the store and an hour or two of lost productivity.

9. An outdoor activity: When working at home, you may find no need to leave the house for days. This can wear you down, hurt your productivity, and strain your personal and family relationships. Find reasons to leave the house. Join a Gym. Volunteer your time to your favorite charity, civic group, or religious institution. We all need human interaction and if you work at home, remember, you don’t get when alone in your home office. Also, getting out in the sun once in a while is good for your health, mood, and Vitamin D levels.

10. A radio or small TV that’s too small to watch: If you are not careful, having a TV set in your office can be the ultimate time waster. That is to say, you look up and see that your favorite old movie is on, next thing you know it’s two hours later. If you want a TV in your office to be cognizant of local and world events, as background noise while working, or to play music, a small TV across the room can provide you this benefit. The advantage of it being small and far away is that you can’t easily see it from the comfort of your office seat, therefore, you are much less likely to watch it for any significant length of time.

11. Big double-size computer monitors: I have to admit that having two big monitors on mydesktop at first sounded more like an indulgence rather than a necessity, but I was wrong. It is a necessity. For example, dual monitors are great when you are building websites. You can have your development environment on one monitor and the website you are building on the other. As a second example, you can be watching a webinar in one window and working or doing email on the other. Truth be told, there are times when I wish I had three monitors.

12. Appropriate computer power: If you use your computer for more than simple tasks, invest in a high end desktop PC. As compared to a laptop, you can get a lot more speed, power, and memory for the money. This higher speed machine will can save you an enormous amount of time, one imperceptible time slice after another. A second or two here and a second or two there can, over the course of a day, increase your productivity by twenty or thirty minutes a day.

13. Getting proper work direction: One of the biggest time wasters related to working at home is receiving poor and/or inconsistent work direction by your boss. If at all possible, have a backlog of work on your To Do List. This will save you from having unproductive down time while waiting for a return phone call or email from a manager in a far away city or country regarding the next task to be performed.

14. Have a mental separation between work time and home time: One of the biggest problems of working at home for any length of time is work/life balance. People who are inclined to work to much tend to find themselves always working. People who are less inclined and/or interested in working hard, tend to find themselves procrastinating, being distracted by household tasks and pleasantries, and as a result get very little work done. Neither overworking nor underworking is a good long term plan. One burns you out and the other gets you fired. The suggestion here is to know your personal tendencies and have the discipline to moderate your actions.

15. Put a lock on your refrigerator: I’m saying this one tongue-in-cheek (yes, pun intended). I’m not actually suggesting that you put a lock on the refrigerator, but you would be wise to have healthy low calorie snacks available that can be very quickly prepared. The thought is, that because you are at home, it’s very easy to wander into the kitchen to grab a snack. If your snacks are too caloric, you’ll gain weight. If your snacks take too long to prepare, you are wasting too much time. In an office setting it feels funny and unnatural to hang around in the company cafeteria all day, but, it does feel quick, natural, and comfortable hanging out in your kitchen at home.

Lastly, if this has been of value, you may also find value in a column I wrote a few months ago entitled Does telecommuting make you invisible.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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