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by Cathy Vandewater | July 12, 2012


Before you get excited about a "working from home" perk, you might want to check if your company uses Spectorsoft first.

According the Wall Street Journal, the surveillance software (also marketed to watchful parents of tech savvy kids) is being commonly being used to track employee activity.

Also popular? "NesterSoft, a Woodbridge, Ontario, maker of a monitoring program called WorkTime." WorkTime gives its clients reports on their employees, with titles like "Top Facebook Users."


This may mean that the old watching-Netflix-in-another-window-while-you-work-on-spreadsheets routine is now out of the question.

But what about your other bad working-from-home habits? The ones where you wander over the to the grocery store for milk, then return three hours later with your dry cleaning and a manicure?

Here are a few shortcuts to staying on task, and off your boss's mud list—surveillance free.

1. Schedule your breaks

Away from the watchful eyes of your boss, 10 minutes of ESPN (just to check the stats!) can easily turn into two hours. That said, you are at home, so who's to say you shouldn't switch a load of laundry? To keep your structure and your sanity, schedule breaks throughout the day: set an egg timer for 5-10 minutes every hour that you can use to tidy up, pop something in the oven, or start a load in the dishwasher. Then get back to work.

2. Finish what you start

Feel like getting up for a bit? Maybe making a sandwich, or putting on a new pot of coffee? Be disciplined—set a "checkpoint" for whatever you're working on, and don't get up until you meet it. This will help you better remember where you left off when you sit back down, as well as increase your satisfaction with the simple joys of taking a break.

3. Clear the clutter

Wherever you work, be sure to keep it as clean and distraction-free as possible. Visual stimuli will pull you out of your mental office, and instead turn your cogs on home issues. Or worse, prompt you to start dusting instead of working.

4. Map out your day

If your next task is unclear, it's easy to wander away from your work station. Instead, draft a to-do list, or color code blocks of time to work on different projects on your calendar. Try breaking down the larger projects into small chunks of labor—lead generation for 30 minutes, for example, or simply brainstorming presentation ideas.

5. Use chores to re-energize

Stuck? Perhaps counter-intuitively, taking a break from a work problem to wash dishes or vacuum can be much more productive than staring at your computer screen. You'll get an energy buzz from successfully completing a project, and taking your mind off the work might recharge your creative batteries.

--Cathy Vandewater,

Read More:
'Working From Home' Without Slacking Off (WSJ)
Does Work/Life Balance Exist on Wall Street?
How to Stay Motivated for an After-Hours Job Search


Filed Under: Workplace Issues
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