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It is no secret that I absolutely love working from home.  The freedom, the lack of commute, the ability to pop a load of laundry into the washing machine between conference calls… magic.  But there is no denying that there’s a flip side.  For some, working from home can start to feel like you’re slowly turning into a grunting, uncombed lagoon dweller.  As with most things, getting telecommuting right requires a little planning.  Here are some tips:

1.  Maintain your grooming schedule as if you were going out to an office.  If you’ve never worked from home, this may sound like a no-brainer.  It’s not.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to not get out of pajamas.  And sometimes that’s part of the fun.  But it will do good things for your sanity to take a shower, put on an outfit worthy of going outside, and maybe even brushing your hair.  It will make those video conference calls and visits from the electric company meter-reader less weird.

2.  Go out amongst humans.  At least once a week, I take my laptop and sit in a cafe and work from there.  And I make it my business to plan a few breakfasts and lunches each week.  Social graces really are use-’em-or-use-’em.  Keep being human.

3.  Build relationships with your co-workers.  It is indisputable that it’s harder to bond with people if you don’t work in the same office.  Harder but not impossible.  Make it a point to talk about more than just work and get to know each other.  Schedule face-time on a regular basis.

4.  Video chatting is your friend.  It helps with point #3 – there really is something more personal about talking to someone via video chat.  Whether it’s Skype or FaceTime or Microsoft Lync, schedule at least part of your meetings to involve video.  It will make a difference.

5.  Stay organized.  Working from home involves a lot of autonomy, which is great but also requires a lot of personal discipline.  Make lists, set daily productivity goals and check in with your superior around both your progress and your challenges.

Working from home can open you up to freedom you never knew existed.  It can keep you from wasting hours upon hours in your car or on a train just getting to work.  It can help you pursue your dreams. It can give you more time with your family. If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend trying it out.  (In fact, statistics show that telecommuting is on the rise in companies large and small).  With a little bit of focus and effort, it might just be the most rewarding work experience of your life.

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