tamaraforodesksmallerWelcome to a new weekly feature we like to call Work from Home Tuesday (WFHT, for short). At oDesk headquarters in Menlo Park, California, every Tuesday is a WFHT.  So what better way to celebrate remote working than discussing some ways to do it well?

First, however, you should know that–much like a divorced marriage counselor–my ability to dish out advice is not necessarily an indicator of my ability to implement it.  (Let’s just get that clear from the start.) Still, I’ve been in the work-at-home business for a decade, so I feel compelled to say on this beautiful Tuesday …

  • Watching your favorite television shows when you’re working is never a good idea.

Sure, you did homework in front of the TV as a child, but you’re on the clock now. The five minute lulls in productivity every time Sawyer gets punched during Lost are going to catch up with you. Try working one hour in front of the TV and and another without any distractions. You’ll see the difference. If I’m wrong, toss my advice. If I’m right, stop it already. (Besides, your roommate will appreciate not having to pause the DVR to explain “what just happened” six times per episode.)

  • Do you honestly think you can do quality work while simultaneously entertaining your toddler?

Now, sometimes this distraction cannot be helped.  I know, because I have lived it. But I was getting half as much done, taking twice the time and going nearly psycho on my babies. You’ll have a more satisfied buyer (and toddler) if you reserve work for when your little ones are sleeping or not under your supervision–provided you have these options.  (Please. No tears or calls to Child Protective Services.  Just burn the midnight oil and drink loads of coffee until they’re in kindergarten.)

  • Try to resist the urge to open e-mails from friends when you are handling work-related e-mails.

If your work and personal e-mail in boxes are one, don’t be tempted by e-mails from friends and family when trying to get things done. It will distract you from corresponding with your clients promptly. I don’t care if it’s a link to some juicy Jon and Kate Gosselin gossip or a photo of your new nephew. If it’s not from a work associate, don’t open it during your work hours. (I promise the “Don’t Ever Call This Area Code” forward will still be there when you are done. And it will still be a total lie.)

WFHT Recommended Reading:
“8 Simple Online Time Management Tools for Freelancers” of Leo Babauta at Freelance Switch
“Setting Up the Web Working Day” by Eric Berlin of Web Worker Daily
“6 Steps to Eliminating Distractions” by Anastasia Pryanikova of Lawsagna

P.S. Ms. Jenkins, I–of course–have never worked for you while watching television.
Except that one time. Last week.

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.