The Special Challenges of Working from Home

Working remotely is often a much sought-after benefit. However, that unstructured time can lead to an imbalance between your work and home lives.

Many times, the imbalance can be traced to time pressures and a haphazard schedule. To learn how to manage your workload and still enjoy your time away from the office, the Time Management module—one of the 15 courses in The Travel Institute’s Certified Travel Associate (CTA) program—may be for you.

And for a fun and fascinating discussion about ways to increase efficiency and comfort of your home workspace, don’t miss the webinar Your Home Office—Making the Most Productive and Enjoyable Space, presented TOMORROW, August 9 at 3:00 pm (EST) by Andy Ogg, CTIE, co-owner of One lucky attendee will win a FREE Digital Copy of the 2022 version of “Digital Marketing in the Travel Industry,” written by Tom Ogg, Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC and Andy Ogg, CTIE.

The following practical tips are taken from the CTA Time Management course.

There are many unique challenges of a home office. Kids, toys, the laundry that is calling your name. The neighbors who think that, just because you work from home, you can sign for their packages, watch their cat or go shopping.

So how should you handle distractions, a lack of focus, or the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life? Here are some practical tips for addressing these challenges.

Behave as if your office were still outside your home: Make a strict daily schedule and stick to it; set alarms for personal and work tasks until you become more disciplined. But do go out to lunch with friends; take regular breaks; schedule days off. Close the door to your office. Start dinner or put in a load of laundry only on your scheduled lunch breaks. Wear comfortable but presentable clothes so you can meet your friend for lunch or FaceTime with a client. But, most importantly, go “home” at the end of the day by turning off your computer and avoid checking emails during your off hours.

Create a business-like atmosphere: Find an isolated or private spot for an office (NOT the kitchen table). Equip it with everything you need to do your job effectively: computer, a phone headset, etc. Don’t allow the hunt for a missing paperclip give you an excuse to be distracted from your work. Buy a comfortable desk chair and make sure all your equipment and furniture are ergonomically correct. Having that designated office space sends a message to others—and a reminder to yourself—that you are at work and cannot be disturbed except in an emergency.

Demand that others respect your work times: Set office hours and let people know what they are (go ahead and write that email when the mood strikes, but don’t send it until the next day during your scheduled work hours). Don’t allow friends or family to drop in or call while you are at work, and don’t be the neighborhood errand person. Schedule your breaks or set aside other blocks of time for family members so they are less apt to interrupt you or resent your work time.

Optimize your time: Use your energy levels to their best advantage. When your energy is high: organize high-intensity, top-priority projects and things requiring concentration and original thinking; work on unpleasant or stressful tasks. When energy is low: tackle low-priority, menial tasks requiring little concentration; boost your ability to push forward by eating high-protein snacks; take a break by napping, calling a friend, stretching or deep-breathing; log some steps on your Fit Bit. All those things perk you up and keep you productive.

Jumpstart your day: Go to work 15-30 minutes early before the phones start ringing and chaos reigns. Putting in just 12 minutes a day for five days, Monday through Friday, gives you an extra hour of peace per week! Schedule appointments with yourself—in writing—with a specific number of minutes for personal tasks (yoga, meditation, personal social media). If it’s in writing, it’s official. You wouldn’t ignore an appointment with your dentist. You wouldn’t ignore an appointment with a client. Treat yourself like your best client: write it down and honor it.

Clear your mind: Shake up your routine by working somewhere other than your office. So, if a task needs more creative thinking—or if you are the type of person who feels confined in an office—take your laptop to a park or other natural setting. If you’re feeling frazzled in the workplace, go to a library. Many have private rooms you can book for an hour or two.

Here’s one last tip that is controversial because you won’t think it’s possible. Try NOT to multi-task! Focus on one thing at a time whenever you can. When you are distracted from a task requiring concentration, it is very difficult to pick up where you left off before the disruption occurred. How many times have you turned back to your computer monitor after answering the phone and said, “Now, what was I doing?” Minimize distractions whenever possible. Clean off your desk and work on only one thing at a time. Clear your desk and clear your mind.

Start incorporating these small changes into your daily routine to feel more productive, organized and relaxed. And check out the Time Management module of The Travel Institute’s CTA program today!

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