Tips for Telecommuting with Success

By , March 31, 2013

 Telecommuting is a great way to save travel time, costs and start your day a little bit early. It’s a particularly beneficial “perk” if you’re a person with a physical disability like me, who would have a hard time commuting to a regular office. I’m thankful my employer allows me to telecommute, unlike those guys over at Yahoo!

If you are looking to telecommute, it’s important to maximize your productivity so you can convince your boss you’re able to effectively work outside of an office. You should consider telecommuting as an opportunity to show that you have the maturity to manage your time. This goes for everyone, regardless of disability.

Here are seven tips that will make you a superstar telecommuter five days a week.

1. Keep lists. It’s easy to get distracted when working from home. Creating a list gives you clear and distinct tasks to manage everyday. Use the benefits of tools like Hot Notes or Any.do to clear the way from cluttered progress.

2. Hold yourself accountable. One way to figure out where you’re spending your time is to use a product by Nimble Works, which lets you audit your time on the computer. One helpful hint in using this software is to use separate browsers for personal and work time.

3. Don’t multitask. Multi-tasking is one of the greatest productivity suckers of all time. Studies show that it takes your brain at least a half a second to switch between activities. If you’re trying to watch a webinar while on a conference call and e-mailing someone all at once, you are essentially doing three things terribly.

4. Use assistive technology: Voice activation is a beneficial tool for slow typists, but also offers a secondary benefits: mindfulness silence. Voice activation technology like Dragon NaturallySpeaking can immediately expedite your typing speed, but the hidden benefit comes from the fact that voice activation requires fairly quiet backgrounds. This forces you to keep many distractors (TV, radio, iPod, Pandora, etc.) at a minimum, which can vastly increase your focus and productivity.

5. Keep focused. There are number of apps that do different things, but for Chrome users, Stay Focused is extremely beneficial. The extension shuts out specific applications (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Sprout Social, etc.), which allows you to focus on one activity for a specific duration before receiving any distractions. The additional benefit is that it allows you to keep track of the time blocks you spent on specific activities.

6) Keep pleasure articles in your Pocket. Part of the problem when telecommuting is the countless relevant online articles with distracting headlines. Pocket allows you to mark webpages in a separate file to read later on your personal time. Pocket can be used across a number of mediums: Internet browser, smart phone, iPad, etc.

7) Make time to breathe. One of the massive benefits of telecommuting is you don’t have to go anywhere to get your job. Still, you need to get away from your computer every once in a while, because technology doesn’t love you back. Your brain, eyes and nervous system need a break from work, or you’ll end up getting burned out, which you don’t want, and you can be sure your boss doesn’t either.

While the upside of telecommuting is that your office is where you live, the downside is, well, it’s always there. For this reason monitoring your time with apps, freeing yourself from distractions, and taking time away from work will help you in the long run. For people with disabilities, telecommuting is more than a perk; for many of us it’s a chance to be a successful full-time employee on par with everyone else—so use this opportunity wisely.

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Author: Joe Entwisle

Joe Entwisle is a policy analyst for Health & Disability Advocates in the areas of healthcare, employment and work incentives. He has worked as a policy analyst for the state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin and several private businesses. As an individual with a disability, Joe shares the unique insights of the public and private systems he works with. He also starred in one of Think Beyond the Label’s national T.V. ads in 2010, appearing as a potential job candidate with a disability.