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93. Which Chair to Buy (When You’d Really Rather Have a Recliner)

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101 Tips for Telecommuters

that specialize in these products (such as Hello Direct!), and

Internet sources. Order more than one type or model to give yourself a choice of features and the greatest degree of comfort.

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Which Chair to Buy (When You’d

Really Rather Have a Recliner)

The closest thing to you (literally) when you telecommute is your chair. Since you might sometimes feel that you live in your office chair (and in a way, you do), invest in a superb one; you’ll never regret it. In spite of an abundance of seldom-used chairs sprinkled throughout your home, don’t be tempted to opt for convenience by grabbing one of these. And certainly don’t target aesthetics among your primary criteria. How your chair looks in your office and integrates with your design scheme is fairly insignificant (unless winning decorating awards is a key objective) compared with the other features you should evaluate when buying a desk chair:

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42. Resolve Disagreements Promptly

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• If your pet occasionally is noisy (when the doorbell rings, a delivery truck stops by, etc.) you’ll need to quickly hit the MUTE button on your phone. (A telecommuting friend of mine simply apologizes for the interruption of her “security alarm” when her dog barks.) Or you might be able to evoke complete silence immediately by having a plentiful supply of pet treats readily available.

• If your pet is unpredictably or constantly noisy, the pet has to go

(to another room, to a pet sitter, or to another home). You may only need to relocate the pet if you have a critical phone call, a conference call, or some other task that requires focus and concentration on your part. Of course, your pet must be willing to stay outside your office without destroying the room or creating such a racket that it still hinders your work.

• If noisy pets continue to plague you, remember the numerous advantages of having fish (e.g., they’re VERY quiet, fun to watch, and can contribute immensely to your meditative time).

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31. Negotiate Expectations and Agreements

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Negotiate Expectations and Agreements

The first thing you and your family should be in rock-solid agreement on is your decision to telecommute. This may be a major change to the lifestyle and day-to-day routine in your household, so don’t underestimate the impact telecommuting will have on everyone involved. If your decision is more of a directive than a choice, you’ll need to be even more careful in formulating agreements and dealing with issues, feelings, fears, concerns—those of your family and your own.

Without clear agreements established at the outset, you’re likely to stumble through misunderstandings, hurt feelings, productivity drains, declines in marital bliss, and unnecessary stress. While you may have more structured, as well as spontaneous, opportunities to participate with your family, your presence in a home office can send confusing signals regarding your availability or accessibility. Many of the joys and advantages of telecommuting quickly dissipate when the expectations of your family are not aligned with either your expectations or your work requirements. Being diligent about addressing potential conflict proactively and reaching agreements productively will serve you well in your quest to be a successful telecommuter.

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30. Take Responsibility for Developing New Skills and Managing Your Career

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Create your own list of wonderful rewards for good work and ways to celebrate your successes. Decide now how you’ll earn at least three rewards (be specific about the achievements to justify the rewards) and pinpoint the next success milestone that will earn you a specific celebration activity. Post your performance targets and the corresponding rewards/celebrations in a visible place in your office. Keep your longer list of rewards and celebrations wherever you document and track your goals. Learn to use rewards and incentives in the way that best motivates and sustains you.

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Take Responsibility for Developing

New Skills and Managing Your Career

As a telecommuter, your skill development and career management may suffer if you do not champion your own cause. While the amount of money corporations spend on training and investing in their human capital generally is increasing, this seems to be concurrent with an increased emphasis on self-responsibility for skill development. Further, with the rate at which people are changing jobs, careers, and employers and are being caught in merger/acquisition situations, it’s no longer wise to trust your professional development plans and career management to your “employer du jour.” Finally, the unique skills you require to successfully telecommute (Tip 1) may necessitate specific skill development efforts you might need to locate and/or fund at your own initiative. As for the management of your career, no one has as great a vested interest as you, so don’t entrust this important task to anyone else.

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7. Stay Motivated (Manage the Slouch Within)

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Do at least one thing tomorrow that moves you toward the balance you’re seeking.

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Stay Motivated

(Manage the Slouch Within)

You’re undoubtedly a highly motivated, high-achieving, self-starter type of person with unbounded confidence that you will achieve high levels of performance and output as a telecommuter. And when all the forces of the cosmos and the dynamics of your universe converge in perfect harmony, this is likely to be the case. But let’s talk about reality. Those forces and dynamics don’t just occur; you make them occur or respond to them in ways that keep you motivated, focused, and productive. How do you minimize factors that compromise your motivation and productivity?

An important key to staying motivated is to avoid procrastination. This is a particular challenge, even for highly motivated telecommuters, since many of the contributors to procrastination are ever-present in the telecommuting workplace (such as household chores, family distractions, personal tasks, television, exercise equipment, etc.). So, use these guideposts to maintain your motivation and keep the “slouch” at bay:

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