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    Posted February 27, 2013 by
    Washington, District of Columbia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Telecommuting: Your productivity tips

    More from MissKellyAnn

    10 Productivity Tips For Telecommuters


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     MissKellyAnn is a self-employed marketing and public relations strategist who found it challenging to get work done in an office. She says she was most productive from 5 until 10 p.m. when her coworkers had left for the day. "Since I work at home, I find that it’s easy to collaborate with people around the world through my computer," she says. "I also use Skype with my clients. So it’s like being there in person without all the distractions.”
    - PM91, CNN iReport producer

    You're beating rush-hour traffic and Skyping in sweatpants -- yes, you're working from home.


    No longer victim to the stereotype that all telecommuters are moms with a newborn on each hip, working from home has gone mainstream. Many say it's the wave of the future.


    But, now that you're home all day and there's no boss to crack the whip, are you tempted to grab the Sony PlayStation? Is the latest episode of "General Hospital" calling your name in between conference calls? Is Twitterland tempting you with juicy hashtags?

    If so, here are some tips that'll make you more a more productive -- and happier -- telecommuter.




    1. Use your tools
    You aren't in the office, but that doesn't mean you are not accessible. During work hours, make sure you are logged onto your favorite chat tools. Google Chat, Skype and Facebook Chat are all valuable instruments for telecommuters. They are even better to use than the telephone since they allow you to prioritize requests. For example, if you are on a tight deadline and someone is asking you a not-so-important question, then you may choose to either ignore your chat window or inform your coworker that you will be available in a few minutes.


    2. Take a break
    Some telecommuters actually end up working more than their colleagues since there are no official breaks. Make sure you take several small breaks throughout the day -- including lunch. Yes, it's convenient to eat every meal at your desk, but it will affect your performance if you start to burn out.


    3. Don't burn out
    If you are on a roll, sometimes it's hard to quit. But, one of the most important things to remember when telecommuting is to stick to a normal schedule. Working long, 12-hour days might seem productive, but it will hurt you in the long run. Plus, you will start to forget what sunlight looks like (that's not good, either).


    4. Set boundaries
    One thing that friends and family don't always understand is that you are actually working even though you are at home. That's why it's important to establish boundaries. Make sure people know that when you are in your home office (or sitting at you desk in the living room) you are at work. One thing that works well for me: I tell my loved ones that when my door is closed I cannot be bothered unless the house is on fire.


    5. Route your calls
    Google Voice is a great tool for routing calls since it gives you one number for all of your phones. So, instead of giving out your mobile and home numbers, create a Google Voice number and then route it to whichever phone or location you happen to be using. This is convenient and free. It's also a smart way to avoid confusing your coworkers and/or clients with several different phone numbers.


    6. Stick to a routine
    Setting a routine might sound boring, but it is beneficial when you are working from home. Many experts say that routines are a key part of being productive. That's why you should set regular hours and breaks in addition to a daily work schedule.


    7. Multitask
    Formal offices have receptionists, mail clerks, sanitation workers and administrative assistants, but your home office has, well, you. In order to stay productive, multitask by grouping your errands and tasks together. Designate Tuesdays and Thursdays for meetings and Fridays for errands. Or, split your days in half. I reserve afternoons for my conference calls and in-person meetings, and save my mornings for the grunt work.


    8. Avoid getting stuck
    If you feel like your creative juices aren't flowing, hit Google for some inspiration. When I can't seem to think, I just start Googling things and visiting websites that get my creative juices flowing. Another trick: find other telecommuters in your industry and hit them up on your social media site of choice when you are stuck on a project. I prefer Twitter (direct messages for privacy) and Facebook Chat. Bouncing ideas off of others can spark something inside us that allows the creativity to flow. If that doesn't work, it might be time for a short break.


    9. Shower
    OK. I know this sounds crazy, but when you are working from home, projects can seem more important than everyday tasks, like brushing our hair and taking a bath. This is especially true on days with tight deadlines. So, wake up, shower, shave, brush your teeth, put on clothes (even if they are sweats), eat breakfast, and then start your work day. I also like to fit workouts into my schedule -- especially since telecommuting seems to burn less calories than battling that rush-hour commute.


    10. Don't disappear
    If you work for a company full-time and telecommute, make sure the boss doesn't forget you. Check in often with updates on your progress and toot your own horn as much as you can without being annoying. Screencasting tools are another great way to stay in touch. (My favorite one is Screenr.) Have a new team member? Make a quick video to help show the ropes. Working on a PowerPoint, but need some advice from your coworkers? Use a screencasting tool to create a video asking for feedback as you share your PowerPoint's progress. I also like to follow my colleagues on Twitter so that I can keep in touch with them on a more casual, social level. Setting up a private list can help you to do this pretty efficiently. These "don't disappear" tips are also good for self-employed folks. (Remember: if your clients forget you're there, then they might forget to write your checks, too.)


    For more tips like this, please visit my blog, Kelly's Stuff. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter (@kellyanncollins).

    Photo credit: Christina S. from Washington, D.C.

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