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Top ten tips for working from home

1. Buying an extra laptop battery so you can keep one in your home office and one at your workplace saves having to lug the thing back and forth.

2. Ensure that there is more than one way for colleagues, customers and suppliers to contact you. We use at least 5 - email, a normal landline, a mobile, instant messaging service and a Skype phone. When one comms device goes down, your people can still reach you and you can reach them. Make sure your contacts have all your numbers and addresses.

3. One of the big advantages of working from home is its flexibility. But to be flexible you also need to be organised. Structuring your day is an important task that must not be ignored. So you can still take your kids to school and go to all their sports days, maybe get in a daily swim down at the leisure centre. Your working time is similarly scheduled and operating from home should allow you to work with higher energy levels.     

4. Get comfortable! At home, I always plug my laptop into a full size monitor with a proper keyboard. I have a chair that, I admit was expensive, but can be adjustable in a number of ways, so it is very easy on my dodgy back, and worth every penny.

5. Tell your friends and family to leave you alone when you have work scheduled. Quite often they do not really understand about working from home - it is your job to educate them. Otherwise, you will pestered left right and centre to chat, do jobs etc etc. Just because you now work from home, it doesn't mean there is no distinction between 'home-life' and 'work-life'. The line must be clearly demarcated for yourself and for others. I close my home office door to others when I am in there, and lock it when am out.

6. Take a break. Have a kitkat! Having all that quiet time to get your head stuck into some serious work is great, but your body, eyes and mind need a rest several times during the day. Take a walk outside, make a call or a cup of coffee. Especially if you are on the PC. I am lucky to have a public pool a few hundred metres away, so I often take an hour out to do some lengths and follow it with lunch. I return to the office feeling totally invigorated.

7. More on schedules and being organised. You must plan a time for lunch and if you can, eat it away from the office. Have a pre-determined time scheduled to end your 'day at the office'. Don't let your working day drag into the night.

8. Have a social life. For many people, their social life revolves around work. At home, you won't have flesh-and-bone colleagues to banter to eye-to-eye. Human beings generally need to have some social contact, so make sure you can reach your usual required levels of interaction after work hours. Sports, clubs, pubs - whatever suits. It is also good to get out of the house after work, else those four walls might drive you barmy if you are in there 24/7.

9. Have a couple of ways to access data at home. I am on a secure VPN, so I can access my office PC from work. However, if the office network goes down, we have an off-site back-up facility that is actually based in the States. Sometimes when I am working on a project I also encrypt the files and transfer to a mini USB hard drive that I have on my key ring. Talking about security, you have a got a regular back-up solution and procedure in place at home haven't you? Haven't you?!!

10. Keep careful records of all your expenses associated with your home office. Efficient record keeping will save you money. Guaranteed!

and one last point...
11. Chill out! Purge those guilt pangs. I'll bet you actually work harder at your home office than you do at work (check out the latest research from Stanford University).

Stuck for start-up ideas? We've put a quick list together here.

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