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How to be a Better Telecommuter

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Telecommuting is on the rise, with The New York Times noting that this work arrangement increased by nearly 80 percent between 2005 and 2012. Furthermore, it is believed that there are between 3 and 16 million telecommuters in the United States alone.

There's also surprising academic research about the benefits of working from, as explained by this Stanford professor:

Are you going to telecommute on a full or part-time basis this year? Have you worked from home in the past, but are concerned about your efficiency? If you answered yes to either question, here are three ways to be a better telecommuter:

  1. Take advantage of the flexibility. Working from home opens up a world of opportunity in terms of when you work and when you take breaks. As long as you are in line with what your employer expects of you, don't shy away from being flexible and experimenting with different arrangements.
  2. Establish a routine. What time do you wake up in the morning? What time do you take your lunch? When do you typically call it quits?

Despite the fact that you should have a routine you can rely on, there will come times when you want to take advantage of the flexibility associated with telecommuting. For example, your child may need a ride to and from school on particular days of the week. Or maybe you need to leave for an hour or so around lunch for a doctor's appointment.

You should have a basic routine that drives your day to day activity, all the while realizing that flexibility is the biggest benefit of telecommuting.

  1. Learn how to manage distractions. From screaming children to a spouse that calls too often or comes home in a bad mood, you are sure to be faced with many distractions throughout the day. Here are a few things you can do to improve in this area:
  • Let your family know that when you are in your office you are working, no questions asked (unless it is an emergency, of course).
  • Leave distractions on the outside. This includes your personal cell phone, television, radio, and anything else that could occupy your mind when you should be working. You don't want "working from home" to turn into "sleeping from home."

By following these three tips, you can be a better telecommuter in 2015.