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After 25 years of working in an office for various companies (as a software developer) I will start working from home in a couple of months time (for my current employer) initially for 6 months.

I'm generally a self-motivated person but I think that working from home will require a possible change of mindset to stay focused on the job, for example, there won't be a colleague nearby to let off steam with or quickly ask a question.

How should I plan my day/week and surroundings so that I enjoy working from home and remain at least as productive as working in an office (some people claim to be more productive when working from home)?

Edit: I will be working from home all the time, not just a day or two per week.

marked as duplicate by jcmeloni, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Rhys, CincinnatiProgrammer Mar 14 '13 at 17:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    The answers to this question give you what you are looking for. – enderland Mar 14 '13 at 15:51
  • also, invest in getting Gtalk or another lightweight chat program, can be useful for those firing of quick questions – Rhys Mar 14 '13 at 15:52
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    There are similarities to the question I asked, but where I was focused on work/life balance, this is more about starting to work from home and productivity. This should stay open. – DKnight Mar 14 '13 at 16:35
  • I work at a company with a very liberal work at home policy. I have never been productive from home, so I show up at the office every darn day. – Jim In Texas Mar 15 '13 at 1:26
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Working from home for an extended period of time is very different from working from home occasionally for a day. These are the things that have helped me have a better time:

  • Get our more. The importance of this will become apparent after a few weeks of working at home. You will need some sort of a change of scenery. Personally, I've gone out for coffee even though I could make coffee at home, tried to go places on the weekends, just anything to stay connected witht he world at large.

  • Try to create a work space at home, a real home office. 'Going to work' and 'coming home' creates a mental separation that won't be available to you. You want to try to replicate it, otherwise it will be harder for you to separate your lives and you might start to feel like you are always (or never!) working. If possible, have some kind of a 'starting work' ritual.

  • At the bare minimum, have a clear place of working. If it's your work desk, make sure there are no hobby items on it that will make you trail off and go into your 'home mode'.

  • Have a strong virtual presence. This means IM, sending emails, participating in calls. These are your only ways of being connected to people. When I did this for a long time, I felt that I needed this more than the people in the office.

  • You are not spending time on a commute. Try to use that to your advantage to achieve the above. For example, you can go for long walks once or twice a day (this is the time everyone else spends in traffic).

  • Don't work 9-5 unless you have to. Use this time to do other things that people do outside of work. There are advantages to being 'out of sync' with everyone. Not being out on the roads in traffic hour saves time and nerves, visiting the supermarket at 10:00am on a Tuesday rather than in the middle of a shopping rush can take way less time and actually be enjoyable.

Overall you need to find your own rhythm and manage your own time. When you have a typical schedule it happens to you by default - everyone goes to work and comes home in the evening, everyone wakes up at a certain time on weekends, etc. You're not going to have this driver anymore. Until you figure out your own rhythm you might actually be having a bad time, but once you do, working at home can have a very positive impact on your lifestyle.

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I highly suggest you read the question I asked for some good related information: How do you separate or integrate your work and home life when telecommuting?

Here are a few things I have picked up working from home 1 day a week (with a brief stint of 4 days a week when I slipped a disc)

1 - Schedule: Try to have a regular, reliable schedule so people know when they can schedule meetings and when they can get you on the phone / IM

2 - Communication: You'll need to make an effort to do more of this since you won't have that incidental communication that comes from being in the same space. I find it's nice to have multiple lines of communication.

  • Messaging client for quick questions and chatter
  • Email for longer messages / Profession communication / Things that need to have some persistence.
  • Phone / Video chat for more complicated subjects that need back and forth

3 - Space: I work out of my home office, I can Google something and have it up on my personal computer for easy review, I can play music, hop on a stack exchange site if I need a quick break, etc. But I find I have to have a space that I can move to that doesn't have a pile of bills or my personal to-do lists around if those things start eating up cycles in my head. Your kitchen table or living room with the TV off will probably be fine but it needs to have minimal distractions.

The main thing you need to do is be mindful of how you are spending your time and attention, even to the point where you keep a personal time log for a few days and revisit it every month or two to make sure you are staying on track. Tweak your schedule, communication, and space as needed.

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