Working from home is great… right up until your pup starts laying on your laptop…in your lap or you realize you’ve been sucked into Netflix for the last two hours…whoops. For many modern professionals, working from home is the new norm and while it can be a freeing experience, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Check out our top 25 BEST work from home tips to make your working from home experience more productive and enjoyable.
- Have a start and end time each day, just like you would if you went to work. Set a time for yourself (which can change based on the day) when you are going to start work and when you are going to stop. For me, it was too easy to not stop and to just keep going. So I started planning things to do after work like errands, work out classes, or dinner/drinks with friends to motivate myself to stop.
- Create a dedicated work space. Work energy isn’t a healthy feeling in your living area. My first work space was my dining room table, and let me tell you that gets old real quick. Then I turned my dining room into an office and separated it from the living room with a cute hutch and curtain that hung from the ceiling. As my business grew, I was able to rent a home with a separate room for my office, and then I was lucky enough to buy a home with a completely separate, secondary living space which I turned into my current craft studio and office space. Being able to separate my living space from my work space helped me immensely, emotionally. If you are just starting out and your space is little, do whatever you can to help separate it from the rest of your home/living space.
- Make to-do lists. I have a fairly large, running to-do list in the notes on my phone that sync with my computer. A list for home and a list for work. Both get seen and attended to daily. Once written down, I can forget about that task and move on to whatever else I’m working on. If I don’t write it down, I will forget. And to me, there is nothing better than crossing a to-do off the list!
- Stick to your AM routine. Even if you don’t have to be up and commuting, being on a schedule is super helpful for type-A me and let’s me get going in the mornings before I get sucked into work.
- Make your office space, whatever that is, a space you actually enjoy being in. If it stresses you out before you’re even working, it’s not going to work. Also, try to incorporate touches of things that make work easier for you whether that be a speaker for music (I cannot work in silence!) or a comfy chair + blanket.
- Figure out your peak productivity hours and plan your tougher tasks around them. After my morning coffee? I can take on the world. After lunch? I am on the struggle bus. Figure out when you’re most productive and make the best of it.
- Complete a task at a time. It is so easy to multitask and take extra time to finish simple tasks. Then you get off topic by scrolling through social media or other life tasks. Do one thing at a time and do it well.
- Schedule breaks. Make a plan for the day and try your best to stick to it. If you have breaks scheduled in then you know how much time you have to complete a task and not feel guilty about taking a lunch break or a morning tea time.
- Plan at least one co-work coffee date a week with other work from home-ers. Take an hour or an afternoon to spend time with like minded creatives or people with similar work from home jobs. It can help you bounce creative ideas off of each other and not feel so alone all day.
- Set very clear “office hours”. It can be easy to work into personal time and blur the lines of work and home.
- Turn off all distractions even on break time. Catching up on a Netflix show during lunch sounds like a great idea until it is past the hour lunch break you set aside.
- Try to have a dedicated space that you can close when your day is over. It could be an entire room dedicated to your office or a cabinet you pack your laptop away into. Either way, try to close your day, literally. (Learned this one from my mom who worked from home for almost 15 years)
- Set an alarm, shower and “get ready” at the start of each day. Even though I’m not going into a public office, getting up early and freshening up to start my day puts me in a much better headspace than I find myself in on the days where I mosey to my desk at 10am still rockin’ my PJ’s. Even if you don’t want to put on makeup and fully get ready, it’s amazing what a difference it makes to wash your face, brush your teeth and put on some ‘normal’ people clothes. :)
- Soak up every, single perk of working from home, (even the smallest perks). One of the things that drove me craziest when I worked in an office was someone else owning so much of my time. I hated that, in the evenings and on weekends, I had to be spend my time catching up on the day-to-day things that fell to the back burner while I was at the office from 8-5 every day. (I.e. Instead of enjoying time with my husband, I was catching up on laundry, dishes, and cleaning, and going to the doctor/dentist or getting oil changes, etc. on the rare days I had off.) Now, I get dressed and make breakfast and then start my work day. After a few hours of solid work, I throw in a load of laundry or clean up the kitchen. Not only are those little tasks a welcome break for my brain and eyes (from staring at a computer screen), sprinkling them in throughout the day also frees me up to spend quality time with my husband and pups in the evening. Additionally, I schedule appointments on weekdays (when businesses are less busy anyway), and take my laptop with me to get some work done while I’m in the waiting room.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to avoid eye strain. (You can also find some cute and inexpensive blue light filtering glasses online that make such a big difference!) I’m prone to very bad headaches, so these two things have saved me on more than one occasion.
- Be open to working “odd” hours. Working from home can often mean unexpected interruptions (that unplanned Amazon Prime delivery or the dog that needs to pee for the 5th time today). Be open to working hours that are outside the standard 9-5 in order to get the job done.
- Phone a friend. Working from home can feel isolating, so be sure to make a social connection at least once each day. Call your mom to say hi, chat with your neighbor, or walk around the block.
- Set small goals each day. Working from home has minimal structure, so in order to stay on task, set small goals for the day first thing in the morning. Check in with your list as you move on through the day.
Shea O.’s Tips
- Hydrate. It might sound silly but, having my water within reach makes me stay focused. If I need to read over something or just need a break for a second, I have a sip and it’s sort of a restart (plus, we all could stand to drink a little more water, am I right?)
- Do Not Disturb. Some of my work from home time overlaps with time my husband and baby are home. I’ve learned to tell my husband “ok, I’m clocking in” as a sort of polite way to tell him “leave me alone”. Otherwise he’s coming in to show me the cute new thing the baby is doing or to ask me if we have any peanut butter or, you get the idea. It just throws me off. So when I’m working I’ve told him “just act as if I’m not even here”. It has been super helpful. With less distractions I’m able to fully focus on the task at hand.
- Start your day with me time. I love starting my day with some hot water or tea and then do a bit of yoga, walking outside, a workout, meditation, etc. I make sure to give me some me time for at least an hour or so before I start my work day. That means I wait to check emails or social media until I am ready for work. Getting my body and mind right before I take on projects helps me to remain focused and motivated.
- Remember to breathe. I find myself in such deep concentration on the computer that I forget to breathe! When sitting in such a still position for an extended period of time I can begin to feel very stagnant. Taking big full deep breaths constantly helps keep healthy blood flowing and lowers your stress levels.
- Have fun! Often times I forget just how amazing it is that I am able to work from home and create the life I want. Yes I am working, but why not make it fun! I like to put on fun music and break out in dance or play with my pup to keep the energy alive and feel the benefits of being my own boss!
- I LOVE podcasts and I use them as my timers. To keep myself on track and not bouncing between 12 tabs, I put on a podcast and tell myself I cannot switch tasks until the task is done or the podcast is over. More often than not these are business or self help podcasts, so I’m getting valuable info while keeping myself on task.
- I give myself an end time to the day and usually by that time I’m spent, but I often pop on my computer after my kid’s bedtime to check emails once more and try to tie up any loose ends that didn’t get taken care of during the day. However, I give myself grace and unless I’m under a deadline gun, I don’t force myself to work past the point of tired. When I know I need to actually get work done and my four year old son will be around, I try to plan an activity ahead of time, so he has something to keep him busy while I work. He likes art projects, workbooks and sometimes I have to resort to the iPad.