I’m officially management now. Whether that’s a good or bad thing only time will tell!

I’ve been given a secondary role at work of “People Manager.” As you might have guessed, it’s not a technical role; every staff member has a People Manager who is responsible for providing guidance, support, and a whole gaggle of approvals such as timesheets, procurement, holidays, and training.

One important part of the role is annual appraisals and performance ratings. This is something I’m quite interested in. My personal feeling is the appraisal system in most companies is broken – particularly once they grow past a certain size. While I’m under no illusions I’ll be able to change the system here (and, to be fair, my experience last year was it was one of the better systems), it will be good to observe it from the inside, and pick up on the key pain points from both sides of the table.

Of course, I’ve been appointed to the role just in time for this year’s annual appraisals, so nothing like being dropped in at the deep end!

I’ve been “on holiday” this week. With everything that I’ve got going on at the moment, that simply means I’m not working the day job for a week. It’s given me a chance to sample working from home, which has been a good – if somewhat strange – experience.

The most interesting part has been trying to get into that psychological state where you know you’re “at work” and you have to get things done. It’s taken me a few days (well, plus the odd weekend here and there prior to this “break”) to get into the swing of things, but I think I’ve learned a few pointers that hare helping me be more productive, which I’d like to share.

1. Get Up Early.

The temptation is to lay in bed for hours after you would normally have to get up and leave for work. Don’t give in. Get up early, with a clear head, knowing what you have to do that day.

2. Get Showered/Dressed/Fed ASAP.

I don’t know about anyone else, but given the chance, I’d laze about for a couple of hours in the morning – leaving food/showering and dressing until the last possible moment. Don’t do this. A good shower, a fresh set of clothes, and a fine breakfast all leave you motivated to do something.

3. Take Time-out to Exercise.

You might want to do this before #2, or you might want to use it as an excuse to “take a break”, but getting in some exercise during the day can leave you with that ready-to-achieve-something feeling. Besides, it stops you turning into the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

4. Don’t Work in the Kitchen.

Until I get the cupboard under the stairs converted into an office, my desk is the kitchen table. Bad idea. Easy access to snacks is distracting. Besides, the kitchen can be the busiest room in the house, leading to many, many interruptions.

5. Train Housemates/Partners and Children.

The people you live with need to know that they can’t just interrupt you. This is very important!

6. Enjoy It

Probably the biggest tip here – if you’re not enjoying it, go do something else for a while. Fix those shelves. Clear out that cupboard. Anything to get your mind out of a “this sucks and I’m not getting anything done” moment. Clear your mind and come back with a fresh head. This is the big difference between working in an office and working at home – you have the choice of finding something else to do in those unproductive moments. As long as you do actually come back and finish the job of course!

Different Strokes…

As these are just a few thoughts I’ve had over the last couple of days, I am in no way am I claiming to have found the “golden rule” of working from home. Heck, I’ve probably listed off a load of “well, duh!” statements that every home worker knows. Likewise, I’m no doubt missing off a load of obvious tips. So if you know of any other best practices for home working please share. If you work at home, how do you make sure you’re as productive as you can possibly be?