You made it happen! Negotiated with your boss, found a new job, or lined up enough freelance clients to call yourself a teleworker. Now you can crank up the music, put your feet on your desk, and … oh yeah, get some work done.
Until you settle into a routine, your first days and weeks of teleworking may require some adjustment. You’ll be feeling the heady rush of freedom one minute and the 2:30 p.m. sleepies the next. So, let’s go over some coping methods.
Ready, Set, What?
If you’ve got a carefully arranged telework schedule, perhaps built around family care or other activities, great. If not, you’ll need to decide when your work day will begin and end.
We recommend starting out traditionally. In other words, get up to your alarm, do some stretches or exercise, and get dressed (no need for a suit or stockings, but wear clothes you wouldn’t be ashamed to step outside in). Sit down at your desk at the same time your colleagues do, back at the office. Take breaks, take an hour or so for lunch, and finish your work before dinner. This will help you put in a complete work day without developing bad habits at either extreme, namely working too many hours or slacking off.
Even within that schedule, you’ll enjoy many of the benefits of telework. For example, if you’ve cut out a long commute, you can probably put in an hour of highly productive work before your colleagues have recovered from their road rage. And you can use your breaks to take a walk around the neighborhood rather than a stroll to the vending machine. You might eat lunch on your back patio, or with a friend.
In a few weeks, once you’ve got a feel for the teleworking life, you’ll be able to play with your schedule a bit, subject to what you’ve arranged with your employer. For example, some people like to put in a few hours of work in the morning, spend the afternoon taking t’ai chi classes, gardening, or running errands with their kids, and then finish their working day after dark.
If you do find that you settle into a regular schedule that’s different from the one your office colleagues are on, advise them of that schedule—with reassurances and information about how to reach you during regular working hours.