By Caroline Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
Most employees relish the opportunity to work remotely on occasion. The commute becomes a matter of steps, not miles. And you might get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep before starting the workday.
But telecommuting is not without troubles. Temptation and distraction lurk at every turn. Vishal B. Rao writes on the popular blog DumbLittleMan.com, "Since you are now working from home, everyone will expect you to be flexible and available when they need you."
Use the tips below to stay focused on your professional (rather than personal) responsibilities while you're working from home.
Find a Productive Place
Even if you live in a studio apartment, you can create a space in your home that will be dedicated to work for the day. If you don't have a proper desk, use your kitchen table. And, even though it worked for Winston Churchill, avoid working from your bed unless you're sick. It's tough to be professional when you're propped up by pillows.
No Surfing, Please
If you're working from home, your boss isn't likely to be looking over your shoulder. You may, then, feel the urge to do more Web surfing than you normally might at the office. Don't. If it's too tough, grab an egg timer and allot a reasonable amount of time (10 to 15 minutes) to get your fill and move on. The same goes for surfing the shelves of your refrigerator. Decide what you'll have for breakfast, lunch and snacks early in the day so you don't waste work time wondering what you'll eat.
Make a To-Do List to Get Things Done
BNET contributor David Goldenberg admits on the blog Business Hacks, "I started working from home four years ago, and for the first year, I was pretty much useless. I'd end up watching TV or sleeping when I should have been typing, and I'd end up working when I should have been hanging out with my family."
To stay on track during the day, create a work-related to-do list at the start of your day and keep it at your side. Having a list of tasks at the ready will help you remain focused and help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Start the Day Like You Would Any Other Work Day
It's fine to catch a few extra winks if you don't have to make your regular commute. However, don't stray too far from your usual morning routine. If you go to the gym each morning, do so. Don't skip your morning shower or work in your bathrobe. Rather, dress in business casual attire. It's OK to be comfortable, but if you're dressed in your pajamas, you may find yourself feeling more inclined to take a nap than make a deal.
Do Not Disturb
If you live with friends or family members, let them know that you need a reasonable amount of peace and quiet when telecommuting. Ask not to be disturbed during certain hours or only for very important matters -- and define what those matters are. If you have particularly disruptive pets, consider taking them to doggie daycare. If all else fails, set up shop in your local Starbucks, where you can enjoy coffee and food and wireless access while you work remotely.