Here at Discovery Litigation Services we recently explored a lucrative home-based career for the skilled court reporter. Being able to make your own schedule, to take agency in your day-to-day, and avoid the hours spent in traffic is a dream opportunity for many, but successfully achieved by few.
Working from home sounds like it’s easier than dragging yourself into the office each day. Rest assured, running a successful closed captioning career out of your house comes with its own set of physical and psychological challenges.
In theory, eliminating the commute to and from an office, cutting away time stealing encounters, and taking control over your daily calendar will bring you greater efficiency and less time stuck behind a desk. In reality, going into your day without a plan can quickly fill your agenda with superfluous “work” for the sake of staying productive.
For those who are used to having their day decided for them, switching to a home based captioning career can trigger an unexpected guilt complex. When there’s no work to be done, go do something else.
1. Schedule Your Personal Life Like Your Life Depends On It
Decisively setting your calendar is paramount to getting the work done while enjoying the benefits of working from home and avoiding its pitfalls. Scheduling your personal life as rigorously as you schedule your work is essential to the sanity of a home based court reporter.
The danger of working from home is you are always within arms reach of work thus creating the bad habit or compulsion of switching back into work mode and doing work tasks when you ought to be “home”. Setting a psychological separation is as important as creating a physical separation.
If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.
Take the time to plan your days and be proactive instead of reactive. Know when you’re in uninterrupted work mode and set aside specific time for communicating with the outside world.
Working in the court system and having your own office gives you a physical and psychological separation between work and home. Shifting to a home based stenography career blurs that distinction. You aren’t forced into a pre-scripted model. It’s up to you to create that for yourself or risk having your work infiltrate your personal life, or your personal life pull focus from your work.
2. Create A Hyper Focused Workspace
Having a home office is not only good for your focus while working, it allows you to be present-minded at home when you’re not working. Keeping a room or an area designated for work eliminates any daily setup required and gives you the ability to go straight into work mode when needed while shutting out the personal life.
At the very least carving out a small space in your house for your work desk and a work-only computer will give you that separation needed to keep your home and work time separate.
Ideally, you’ll have a designated room serving as your home office. This will allow you the flexibility of various work setups from the traditional desk, to a stand up desk, to a couch or comfortable chair. Making slight changes to your working style can rejuvenate a tired mind.
Perhaps you perform realtime reporting at a standing desk, while you make edits and tweaks to the final transcript sitting at a comfortable chair and take phone calls sitting at a couch. Whatever your style is, designating a space large enough to house all of your work activity is an important step in staying productive throughout your work day.
3. Stop Working When It’s Time To Stop Working
It’s too easy to get stuck “in a mode” and push your work out of the confines of your working day. Being passionate about what you do and furthering your education or taking on more and more business because you’re energized and excited is one thing. Working without breaks or pushing your work day up to your bedtime is counterproductive. Set in-and-out times for your work.
Know when the day is over and schedule it.
Designate regular breaks. The human brain can only focus for up to an hour - productively - on any single subject. When you have the opportunity to take breaks, take them. Get outside, move your body, and rejuvenate your mind. As you push yourself to work longer and longer periods without a break, you will see diminishing returns in quality of work and cognitive function.
4. Bank Those Easy Wins With A Daily Ritual
One of the benefits of working remotely as a stenographer is avoiding the rut of a daily routine. However, planning your first moments of the day is crucial to priming the rest of your day.
For some, working in pajamas is what empowers them. For others, showering, getting dressed, and eating a sitdown meal to start the day is what will set them on the most productive path.
Perhaps you sleep until 2 pm and your day of captioning doesn’t begin until 5 pm. It’s less about the time of day and more about priming your mind and body to be ready to focus and work. Whatever your day-starting ritual is, make it consistent. Make it right for you.
Having a ritual for the first hour of your day removes all guesswork and decision making from getting started on the right foot.
5. Enjoy The Lifestyle You’ve Created For Yourself
Many of us fall into the trap of replicating what’s familiar. For some of us, that means inadvertently mimicking the trappings of an office job at home. It’s not a sign of freedom and flexibility to just relocate the office experience into your home.
Take advantage of the lack of supervision and self-governance to choose the jobs that allow you to work when you want to work. Shed the guilt of taking advantage of mid-day free time to enjoy yourself and the lifestyle you’ve created.
Employ the convenience of modern technology that allows you to untether from your home office, while still getting work done. Take advantage of the freelance model and schedule work around your life - and not the other way around.
What practices help you stay productive while achieving the optimal home/work balance?