I have started my third week as CEO/President of e-Partners in Giving, which means I’m now an expert on working from home. (The latter statement is kind of a reach, but I have learned A LOT in a short amount of time about working out of the house.)

I wanted to share a few of my newly-found secrets/advice for anyone who might travel down this same path:
It completely changes your mind-set. When you’re firing off an e-mail wearing just your socks OR you’re barefooted it just doesn’t feel right. I’m not saying to have to slip into your Kenneth Cole Oxfords or your Jimmy Choo stilettos…I put on my Redwings or my Asics. (It doesn’t matter what else I’m wearing – or not wearing for that matter … it’s all about the shoes.)

For the first couple of days on my new job, I had an uneasy feeling at the end of the day – kind of like I had just worked in a cave or mine shaft for eight hours. On Day 3, I opened the blinds and my office came alive. I was able to see the sun shining, birds flying by the window, the neighbor’s dog urinating on my fence. What a difference!

3. SET ASIDE TIME FOR LUNCH (and a lunch-time “activity”)
I’m talking about AT LEAST 30 minutes – that’s whether you meet someone for a bite to eat OR walk 20 feet to the kitchen to warm-up leftovers. DON’T make yourself a sandwich and eat it at your computer, firing off that e-mail that could easily wait until you digest your ham and cheese.

Regarding a lunch “activity”… if I stay at the house and eat lunch, I like doing something non-work related before I get back to the grind. Whether it’s something low-key like reading the newspaper OR banging out some mindless housework (i.e. dishes, sweep the floor, change out the laundry.) One thing I WON’T do in the middle of the day: Turn on the TV! (I’m afraid TNT will be in the first 15 minutes of the “Indiana Jones” trilogy and my day will be shot.)

Another “activity” of choice … I do something with the dog – throw the frisbee, practice his tricks, walk him around the block. (I feel sorry for him sometimes…I sit there and bang on my computer all day or talk on my cell phone and he just stares at me. I can tell what he’s thinking, too. “HEY! I’m tired of licking my own butt…let’s play!”)

BTW: Another thing I WON’T do in the middle of the day….blog. (I save this little addiction for the evening….turn on the Rangers and start typing.)

Make sure you have one thing on your To Do list that entails you getting in your car and driving away from your house. This is VERY important – especially for human contact. (Even if that contact is the high school kid working the drive thru window at Sonic when you swing in for a Java Chiller….

YOU (inserting your straw into your Java Chiller): “So…have you guys been pretty busy today?”
DRIVE THRU GUY (looking confused): “Ummm…I don’t know….” 
YOU: “Sometimes when I come here…”
DRIVE THRU GUY (interrupting): “Sir, did you need anything else?”
YOU (taking a long tug on the straw): “Nope…this delicious Chiller is all I need….Have you ever had one?”
DRIVE THRU GUY (being somewhat firm): “Sir….there are four cars behind you…ummmm…would you mind leaving?”

Seriously, get out of the house once a day – even if it’s for 15 minutes. Schedule a lunch with a friend, swing by the post office, pick up office supplies at Staples, set-up a satellite office in the public library for a couple of hours. 

The two days I’ve failed to take this advice….I’ve wanted to stab myself in the temple with the closest pen.

Whether it’s before my day gets started (which I prefer) or after I’ve “punched the time clock to go home,” I HAVE to do something physical – run, do several sets of push-ups and sit-ups, curl some canned goods…SOMETHING! It helps me mentally stay focused and keeps me from feeling like a fatty-patty.

Before this adventure started, I planned on drawing a definitive line in the sand between work and home. Well….that’s not realistic – or practical for that matter. Here are a couple mind-sets that have changed over the last two weeks (I’ve also compared these examples to things I used to do in my “past life”):

BEFORE: The dog HAS to be outside during the “work day.”
NOW: That dog isn’t bothering me laying on the floor licking himself. Hell, if he wants a little love…I take 23 seconds and pet him.
PAST LIFE: I spent a lot more than 23 seconds just shooting the bull with c0-workers.

BEFORE: No laundry or dishes while I’m “at work.”
NOW: If I need clean underwear, I’m going to change out the laundry. If I need a clean fork, I’m going to run the dishwasher.
PAST LIFE: Stupid meetings….I would rather sort dirty laundry or scrub crusty eggs off the skillet than sit in those daily doses of pointlessness. Those chores take A LOT less time and I don’t want to jump in front of the closest bus when I’m finished.

Before I finally say “Stop!” at the end of the day, I map out what I have on my plate the next day. I write projects – big and small – on my dry-erase board and I make sure all my meetings or conference calls are on my iCalendar. If I’m waiting on an e-mail or returned phone call, I’ll fire off a “Just Touching Base” e-mail to make sure I’m not waiting two days in a row. (The e-mail would say something like, “I didn’t hear back from you today, but I wanted to reinforce the importance of us visiting as soon as possible.”)

I’m testing several other things (I’ll keep you posted):
• Lighting a candle: Helps with the man-and-dog smell that can surface from time to time AND it provides a little Zen to the office.
•  Daily devotional/prayer: This is something that has taken a back seat since I started working out of the house. Getting back on track with this is VERY important to me.
• Lunch with friends: One a week is going to be a MUST. (Please re-read No. 4 if necessary.)
That’s it…THE END! (I have to do that or I would just keep writing and writing.)
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