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Telecommuting? Limit distractions at home

Their main advice: Turn off the TV and say no to naps. The telecommuters we interviewed have different jobs, but they all agree limiting distractions is key to a successful work-from-home setup. Christine Page, 38, St. Petersburg

Freelance Web developer whose main client is a public relations firm in Washington. She has worked from home full-time for six years, from her spare bedroom, and hasn't visited the home office in two years.

What she wears: "I just have jeans and a T-shirt on. But the more alive you look, the more professional you feel."

Perks of teleworking: By 5 p.m. she's ready to get out of the house. She's involved in St. Pete Shuffle and her neighborhood association; she takes her dogs to the park more often.

Biggest distractions: Her dogs and friends calling to shoot the breeze.

What she lets herself do: Laundry and listen to music.

What she doesn't let herself do: "Activities that I think are unacceptable at an office, I don't do at home,'' including ignoring her ringing phone and long chats with friends.

Staying connected: Page uses e-mail, phone and iChat to communicate with her employer and stay in the loop.

Tip for productivity: "Everybody thinks you're working in your pajamas and your house is beautiful all the time 'cause it's all clean all the time, but really your house gets messy, 'cause you're there twice as much." Sean Barbeau, 27, New Tampa

Researcher for the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida. He works from home once every two or three weeks. His office is a spare bedroom.

What he wears: T-shirt and shorts.

Perks of teleworking: Ability to wait for packages or repair workers without scheduling his entire day around it.

Biggest distractions: None, he says.

What he lets himself do: Turn on loud music.

What he doesn't let himself do: Take breaks without making up the time at the end of the day.

Staying connected: Barbeau keeps a computerized schedule so his boss can log on and see what he plans to accomplish each day.

Tip for productivity: Let people know how to reach you, and check your voice mail often. Also, make sure your boss and colleagues know what you're working on. "I think if they have a better feeling for the work that you're actually getting done while you're at home, they'd be much more likely to allow you to continue to telework." Greg Miller, 28, St. Petersburg

Senior planner for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. The company allows employees to work from home up to one day a week. Miller telecommutes once or twice a month.

What he wears: T-shirt and shorts.

Perks of teleworking: Fewer interruptions, extra sleep, no need to pack a lunch, freedom from shaving (unless he has a meeting), and the ability to go jogging and shower at lunchtime.

Biggest distractions: His dog, Bentley, and the allure of kitchen snacks.

What he lets himself do: Prep dinner for 10 minutes and take out the dog.

What he doesn't let himself do: "If there was a sporting event on TV I wanted to see, I wouldn't telework because that would be a distraction, to think about watching that."

Staying connected: Company policy dictates that Miller check his office voice mail every two hours, and his co-workers have his cell number. He e-mails his supervisor when he has finished an assigned task.

Tip for productivity: Find a workspace that's comfortable and limits interruptions.

Telecommuting? Limit distractions at home 08/20/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 1:27pm]

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