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Five Biggest Mistakes When Working From Home

Stay on track by avoiding these blunders.

1. Unsustainable Workspace
With a little forward planning and common sense, anyone can create a comfortable workspace, says Joe Wilson, senior career adviser at MintResume. “Your kitchen table may be well lit and close to electrical outlets and refreshments, but how many other people in your household constantly walk in and out? Your bedroom may be comfortable and quiet, but when videoconferencing, does a headboard or wardrobe in the background give the most professional impression? Don’t prioritize comfort over efficiency.”

WFH with Dog

2. Pedal to the Metal
In a typical day at the office, you work from about 9 a.m. until noon, take lunch and then finish the day around 5 p.m. That schedule should be less rigid at home. In addition to lunch, you need a break in the morning and another in the afternoon, according to telecommuting expert David Bakke. “There’s no way you can be totally productive sitting in front of a computer screen for four hours straight,” Bakke says. “Take 20 minutes to walk around the block, do some sit-ups or pushups, clean a bathroom or even do some laundry. Anything to keep the blood pumping.”

3. Lack of Communication
Don’t let your colleagues become out of sight, out of mind. Keep in touch on a regular basis to make sure all tasks are being performed and everyone is on the same page. But don’t make these talks just about work, says Tami Parker, owner of UNIcycle Business Consulting. “Ask how they’re doing or what hurdles they’re facing,” she says. “Ask about things like family, pets, neighbors or WiFi connections. Being aware and showing interest is important.”

4. Frequent Interruptions
Even though being social is healthy, you still need to focus on the task at hand. Too many interruptions from your family and friends and even pets can throw off your whole day. “Write out a rough work schedule so you can let people know when you’re not to be disturbed,” Bakke says. “If you don’t, you can expect phone calls and texts throughout the day, which will, in fact, sidetrack you. The schedule can always be adjusted if something pops up last minute.”

5. Maintain Work/Life Balance
Even though the line between work and home has been completely blurred, you must do your best to keep them separate. Share parental responsibilities with your spouse – don’t prioritize your job over theirs. “Families fall into habits where one parent shoulders the burden alone, but if you have help, take it,” Parker says. “If both parents are working from home, can they alternate days? Or mornings versus afternoons? This also lets you plan for meetings, projects or hitting deadlines.”

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