The Polished Home Professional
As more and more women start their own businesses and/or take advantage of flex time, the opportunities for home office professionalism to nose dive and/or efficiency to plummet increase. With this in mind, below is a down and dirty list of 10 ways to ensure you present your best, most productive self:
1)If you don’t already know, learn how to make address labels on your home printer – hand-addressed mail looks less official.
2)Similarly, get an online postage account or a postal machine (see www.stamps.com or www.pitneyworks.com ) Franked mail looks more businesslike than multiple stamps, and the Pitney Bowes Personal Post machine even lets you add small corporate messages to your postmark.
3)If you do use stamps, be sure they are appropriate – e.g. don’t send something to a client with a “Season’s Greetings” stamp in August, or a “Love” stamp just because the Post Office is pushing them around Valentine’s Day.
4)Set up an individual FedEx account – it makes sending overnight packages much easier, and all you need to do it is a credit card.
5)If you’re working on a big project, you can easily “expand” the size of your office by incorporating the Post-It Table Top Pad: these white board-sized Post Its are a great way to give a conference-room sized feel to a closet-sized office.
6)A ‘countdown clock’ is a great way to ensure you stay on task. Used for everything from planning weddings to planning conferences, numerous models are available at www.alibaba.com
7)Consider a separate phone line, especially if you have kids.
8)Sometimes people have trouble believing that you actually work from home – they think that because you’re at home, you’re free. To reinforce this boundary, I recommend:
- You get caller ID.
- Start conversations when you’re working at home with “What can I do for you?” as opposed to, “How are you?”
- Rehearse a few phrases you can use to move the conversation along. For example, “Oh, Hi – I’m working toward a tight deadline….just in the middle of finishing a project….etc. May I call you back tonight?”
9)The same way you wouldn’t leave your half-eaten sandwich or hours-old coffee on your desk for your colleagues to contemplate; or leave an overflowing wastebasket or dirty hairbrush in plain sight for your boss to shake her head over, don’t allow your home office to become a clutter-zone. If necessary—as airlines etc. now do– schedule twice daily “trash sweeps” to keep yourself organized and energized.
10)Home offices can make you a little peculiar after a while—if you’re not careful it’s awfully easy to begin spending the day in your pajamas. Given this, I recommend establishing routines for working on major projects, returning emails, even getting out in the world. In keeping with that idea, you might even get yourself a one-year pass to the local botanical garden or museum if they’re near by, and make use of them when you want to give yourself time to step away and regroup.
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