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mark evans

In theory, working from home sounds great. There's no commute, you can work in sweats, and you have complete lifestyle flexibility.

In practice, however, working from home is a challenge, particularly if you work in a house filled with distractions (aka a spouse nd children). Then, there's the fridge, the TV, and the ability to do errands at any time during the day.

To work successfully from home takes a plan, discipline and focus. It means being able to remember that working from home is about working. Here are some tips on how to make working from a home a productive experience.

1. Even if you do work from home, you still have to go to work.

It could be walking downstairs to the basement or upstairs to the spare bedroom, but it involves going from "home" to "work," just like going to an office. Establishing the mindset of going to work is an important way to get into work mode.

2. Dress for success.

Although working in sweats is easy and certainly allowable on occasion, getting properly dressed for work is important because it a psychological process to take work seriously. And, yes, it also means showering.

3. Eliminate the distractions.

There are distractions such as social media and e-mail but there are also in-house distractions, such as a fridge to raid or a TV to watch, including the news or sports highlights, and errands to run, whether grocery shopping or picking up the dry cleaning. They should be kept to a minimum or done during a certain part of the day, such as lunch.

4. Make your office a no-fly zone.

It is tough enough to work from home; it becomes even more difficult if family members see your office as a place to play, hang out or talk about family matters. Make it clear the office is off-limits because it is a place where works happens.

5. Be disciplined about where you work.

If you have an office, work there rather than at the kitchen table or in the family room, even if there is no one else in the house. Being in your office increases the chances of being focused on work, as opposed to the fridge or TV.

6. Keep office hours.

You may not work 9 to 5, but it is important to establish the time when works happens; otherwise, the lines between work and home start to blur.

7. Try not to be too tough on yourself.

As much as discipline is a key ingredient to successfully work from home, one of the upsides is work-life flexibility. There will be days that errands get in the way, your children need their homework brought to school, or your partner decides to take the day off, and wants to go out for lunch. Roll with these situations because the benefits of working from home can outweigh working in a cubicle. Special to The Globe and Mail

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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