Working in the comfort of your own home isn’t as easy as it seems. Here are 20+ tips for working from home so you can still be wildly productive!
Home Sweet Home
Most people love the idea of working from home. You get to lounge around in your pajamas all day, eat snacks whenever you want, and there is no boss hovering over your shoulder. It sounds like a dream, right? Unfortunately, working from home isn’t the easygoing utopia you may believe.
While there are certainly perks to working at home, there are some serious obstacles to overcome. Without a boss or team to hold you accountable, it can be easy to lose a ton of productivity. Plus, there are countless opportunities to get distracted — all your favorite hobbies, entertainment, and foods are right there at your fingertips. Successfully working from home requires a lot of discipline, resolve, and focus that most people take months or even years to master. As someone who has run my business from home full-time for over three years, I have a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your time spent working at home sweet home.
Obstacles You Face Working From Home
Working remotely will present certain difficulties you may not have expected. Here are the most common issues I ran into when I first started working from home.
Not Working Enough
Your home is full of distractions like the TV, the full range of the internet, books, games, and the worst offender — other people. I struggled with staying on task and focused on the work in front of me. You may find that you have a hard time getting your normal daily tasks completed while working from home because you just aren’t as productive.
Working Too Much
If you’re very invested in your work, you might find that you accidentally spend too much time working and not enough time relaxing. Being a workaholic might be lauded as a positive trait in our society, but it is not something to desire. At home, you can work well into the night if you aren’t careful, draining yourself of energy. I have been guilty of this problem as well, and it had a very negative effect on my life for a long time. You should aspire to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Other People’s Opinions
One of the more obnoxious things I’ve faced since working from home is other people not taking my time seriously. Some people might hear that you’re working from home and think that means you have time to spare for running errands, playing with kids, or doing chores. You might find that other people forget that working remotely is still working and that you need to remind them you’re not available for other activities.
21 Tips for Working From Home Successfully
When I first started working from home, I struggled immensely with being responsible for all my time and activities. I would procrastinate, spend hours browsing social media and Reddit, and otherwise waste time when I knew I ought to be working. If you are working remotely and still have to turn things into a boss, you might have a bit more structure than I had. Regardless, these tips will help you take advantage of all the perks of working from home without falling into the most common pitfalls.
Don’t Give In to Distractions
You might tell yourself, “I’ll only read one chapter” or, “I’ll only get on Facebook for 15 minutes”. But trust me when I say that these distractions are a slippery slope. Time flies when you’re having fun, and you can easily lose more than an hour to these distractions. You will be tempted but resist. You can relax and unwind with your favorite activities after work.
While you certainly CAN wear sweatpants all day, you shouldn’t. At least not regularly. I went through this phase when I first started working from home, and let me tell you that there is nothing that makes you feel like a shapeless grey slug faster than pajamas every day. Dressing in comfortable, public-worthy clothes (like jeans and a nice shirt) and making yourself presentable will go a long way towards making you feel productive and energized. It’s a nice treat every once in a while, but don’t make loungewear a daily thing.
Don’t Work in Bed
It might be tempting to lay in bed on your laptop for your work tasks, but it will quickly wear on you. Just like sweatpants, it is a great thing to be able to do every blue moon. But doing it all the time will rob you of any sense of being a functioning member of society.
Develop a Morning Routine
Your first hour of the day can easily shape the way you feel throughout the rest of your day. Create a morning routine that works for you and stick with it every morning. Veterans of working from home will attest that routines are deeply important to having a productive day.
Develop an Evening Routine
Just like morning routines, evening routines can help you jump into the next day with energy and zest. There are plenty of ways to prepare each night: make sure your coffee machine is primed and ready to go, have the next day’s to-do list written out, or have your outfit planned. Little things like this can go a long way.
Take Scheduled Breaks
Make sure you are taking breaks to give your mind a bit of rest. There are plenty of different schools of thought for how often to take a break, but the frequency and length are totally up to you. Just make sure you are actually taking a break by reading, listening to music, doodling, or doing something that provides something for your brain. Avoid social media or activities that don’t really relax you or add anything to your day.
Go for Walks
Have a dog? Go for a walk with your pup! Don’t have a dog? Go for a walk anyway! Taking a daily walk to stretch your legs for 20-30 minutes is a great way to get moving, relax your mind, and enjoy a bit of nature. Plus, it’s great for your dog!
Track Your Time
One thing that I struggle with when working from home is that my time seems to vanish into thin air. To address this, I’ve started tracking my time with Timeular. I purchased the physical device (called a Zei) that I flip as I change tasks. However, Timeular has software that you can use to track your time for free. Knowing that your time is being tracked helps you stay on task and keeps you from losing chunks of time to distractions.
Keep a Degree of Separation
One of the best things I ever did for my work-life balance was getting myself a designated workspace. When I first started working from home, I was stuck at a desk in our tiny apartment’s living room. Being out in the open next to the TV was terrible for my productivity. When we moved to the next apartment, I was able to move my work setup to an actual office with an actual door and it did wonders for me.
If you are able to get yourself a closed-off room or space to be your office, take it. You will thank yourself later. If you don’t have that kind of extra room, you can create a degree of separation with a curtain, privacy screen, or something to that effect. If other people live with you and you can’t get a separate room, try to establish boundaries about interacting with you during work hours. Do anything you can think of to create a different work atmosphere so you can set your work down, close the door, and walk away to have your family/home time.
Tidy Up Your Workspace
Every day when you are done with work, take a few minutes to tidy up your station. Remove any trash, straighten up your desk, and get it ready for the next morning. This tiny step makes jumping into work the next day immeasurably easier.
Block Distracting Websites
One of the biggest productivity challenges for me is social media. When I have access to it, I invariably sneak a glance throughout the day and end up wasting a ton of valuable time. Finally, I said enough is enough and took action. I downloaded the free Block Site extension on my browser and blocked my most addictive sites during business hours. Then I had Jon password protect the blocks so I can’t slip up. This might seem extreme, but it has done wonders for my productivity. Now I can stop myself from falling into my addictive social media habits, and I feel so much better for it. This tip for working from home will be a game-changer if you find yourself on those time-sucking websites often.
Whether you’re working from home or in a public office, it’s always a good idea to stretch every day. Working remotely just means you can do it without any weird looks from your coworkers!
Have a Start and End Time
Set yourself a start and end time to your workday like you are your own supervisor. Then try your hardest to stick to those hours. If you’re coming from a job where you worked certain hours, just keep those as best as you can. Otherwise, just do hours that feel sensible to you. Personally, I try to get to work by 9 am and wrap up work between 5 and 6 pm. It’s a simple concept, but it helps immensely.
While you shouldn’t wear sweatpants or lay in bed all day, that doesn’t mean you can’t be comfy! Wear your fluffiest socks, wrap yourself in a blanket, and use a variety of pillows to make your work station the maximum amount of cozy.
Leave Your Phone in Another Room
A guaranteed way to get distracted is to keep your phone within reach while you work. Notifications, messages from friends, and emails can destroy your focus. One of the most important tips for working from home is that you should leave your phone in another room entirely, put it on silent mode in a drawer, or turn it off entirely. Trust me when I say that this will be the best thing you do for your productivity while you work from home.
Make the Most of Your Breaks
To maximize productivity at home, make sure to cover all your bases during breaks. Stretch, go to the bathroom, grab a snack or drink from the kitchen, and take a lap around the house. This helps ensure you don’t take multiple unnecessary breaks that disrupt your focus.
Set a Timer for Breaks
While you certainly don’t NEED to set a timer for breaks, I would suggest you give it a try. I recommend giving the Pomodoro Technique a try!
Write To-Do Lists
I find that writing to-do lists are effective no matter where I’m working, but they are so much more necessary when you work remotely. The home is full of distractions, so keeping your tasks written out makes it easy to snap back to work after a break. If you don’t keep a regular to-do list in a bullet journal or planner, try writing out 5 tasks every day on a sticky note and stick it on your computer monitor.
Write Morning Pages
Being in charge of your time management and tasks each day can be a bit chaotic. Something that I’ve found helpful for sorting out my thoughts and finding focus each day is the Morning Pages exercise. Writing in a journal every morning helps me process any mental distractions, plan out my day, and get my head in the right space before I begin work.
Set an Intention
Recently I’ve begun setting intentions for myself every day, and it’s been quite helpful for my productivity. Right after my Morning Pages, I decide one thing I’m going to focus on throughout the day. They can be simple affirmations like, “Today I feel in control,” or, “Today I radiate a positive attitude.” I write it on a sticky note, set it on my desk, and proceed with my day. This small practice has helped me focus on my goals and get through the day’s challenges with a good attitude.
Have a Practical Lunch
Having access to a full kitchen is both a blessing and a curse. You need to use this power wisely or else you will accidentally waste a lot of time putzing around the kitchen or eating way more than you intend. One huge benefit of working from home is that you likely won’t spend nearly as much money on eating out for lunch. Just remember to keep your lunches practical. Yes, you can cook hot meals for lunch, but keep time in mind. Eat leftovers, sandwiches, or other quick meals for the majority of your lunches to avoid spending too much time in the kitchen.
It Takes Practice
Remember, as you adjust to working from home that it takes a bit of time to figure everything out. There is quite a learning curve, so don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect from the start. You will develop rhythms, routines, and preferences that will lead to optimal productivity. Just remember to be diligent, avoid the most common pitfalls, and always be looking for ways you can tweak your systems for the better. With these tips for working from home, you can hopefully prevent yourself from running into the same obstacles that I did. Working remotely isn’t as easy as it seems, but it is very rewarding if you can figure out how to make it work for you.