7 Tips For Effectively Working From Home
orking from home for individuals living with disabilities is a great option. It does however require some management of both time and space. I would like to share some tips about my journey from working at home with some efficiencies and longevity, albeit a work in progress. Since breaking my neck 25 years ago, I have been working at offices, remotely and working from home. Balancing my work with a disability has been a real challenge. I have tried many different options and established some handy tips that helped me, not just for someone living with accessibility challenges and high care needs, but strategies that I believe would be appropriate for everyone.
It is guaranteed that when you are working from home, even if you have a dedicated space, there will be distractions.
Over the years, I have tried working from home by taking over a bedroom, setting up my office in the corner of the living room and working at the kitchen bench. I have set up a home office on the back deck near the pool amongst an oasis of distractions. Recently, I have been fortunate enough to be in a position to build a work studio directly alongside my home, with complete wheelchair access and the space is designed as a home office for someone living with a disability. I am slowly beginning to find my groove working from home and look forward to sharing some tips with you.
- Find your space - Finding a work environment within your home, that is dedicated to your work and set up for your needs, is the ultimate challenge. You need a dedicated, private space that will minimise distractions, enabling you to switch into work mode. This is a near impossible task if you are setting up in the living room or on the kitchen table. If this is you – read on. If this is not you – read on.
- Computers and communication devices - To work efficiently in this day and age, you need to set yourself up with all the tools you require to perform your job efficiently. If you have a desk at work with screens, a powerful computer and super-fast internet connection, you need to replicate this at home. It is no use trying to perform the same role in a home office that feels like you've stepped back in time to 1997.
- Fast Internet - It is near impossible to work from home without a stable fast internet connection. There is nothing more frustrating than at 3pm, when your kids return home from school, your Wi-Fi flips back to the speed of the dial-up ages due to overload. If you can't access NBN or ADSL2, at the very least you should buy a wi-fi dongle from your telecommunication provider or tether to your mobile phone.
- Ear buds or headset - when working from home, it's guaranteed, even if you have a dedicated space there will be distractions. Life will carry on around you, your partner will be yearning for a coffee date, kids will burst through the door asking questions and carers will randomly interrupt and ask if you need something while you are on a conference call. Wearing a headset or ear buds enables you to pick up calls easily and effectively & block out some distractions. The only downside when you are using an earpiece or headphones is, no one knows if you are on a call. I wish someone would design a headset that had a big red light on top! That way people would know when you were on an important call.
- Stick to a schedule – It is really important when working from home, that you plan and work within allocated hours. If you are working for seven hours per day, try to stick to those hours. There is nothing wrong with having flexibility, but if you start your week without a plan, it is very difficult to stay on track.
- Look good, feel good – To enjoy a healthy life, whether you are living with disability or not, it is important to consistently get up and start the day with a win. If you get ready for the day and get dressed ready for work, you will have the right mindset to get into your day without distractions. Wearing moccasins or board shorts to your home office, as if you were at the beach, will most definitely be counter-productive.
- Reward yourself – If you have worked hard and feel accomplished, take the time to pat yourself on the back. Even if you didn't quite get to where you wanted to, finish your worst week with a beer, coffee or a piece of chocolate to remind you that you have achieved something that many people struggle to do. Stay connected to your work colleagues and utilise the incredible communication systems at our disposal today, allowing you to stay connected and feel accomplished.
Working from home when navigating a life with disability enables me to enjoy my independence and remove barriers to my disability that I will experience outside of the home. There is some real efficiency in having care close to you, at your disposal. I encourage you to imagine your best life, start putting some steps in place that will ultimately help you balance your work and family life.
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