Working from home has its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. Here are 20 best work-from-home tips to help you be productive.
Working from home for an employer slightly differs from being self-employed and working from home. They both have some of the same benefits but being self-employed gives you more freedom.
Benefits of working from home
- Save on commute time and the cost of fuel
- Being able to set your schedule
- Having more time for family
- Being able to take a day off when you need to
- If you work remotely, you can work from anywhere
Drawbacks of working from home
- It can be hard to stay focused
- Family and pets can be a distraction
- It can be lonely
- Procrastination can be a problem
- People may ask you to do more
Having the freedom to work from home can be a blessing. I think many of us want to work from home and live a lifestyle we can craft for ourselves.
Working from home requires discipline and grace. The discipline to get the work done and the ability to give yourself grace when you don’t check everything off your to-do list daily.
I love being able to work from home. I get to take my kids to school, they don’t have to go to a sitter, and I don’t miss any important things in their lives.
I set my schedule which includes going to the gym each morning, and I’m thankful that I can make time for self-care on my schedule.
So how do I maintain a work/life balance? It’s not always easy, and I don’t get it right all the time, but these are my 20 best work-from-home tips that help me do my very best. I know they will work for you too!
Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office
1. Have a designated space for a home office
The first step is to choose a dedicated space for your office. The key is to find a space that is free from distractions.
You might be tempted to use a corner of the living room or dining room, but you want a space where you will be able to shut the door.
A guest bedroom is a great option for a home office. You can still use it for guests when they come, but as an office, you can shut the door and keep out the distractions.
Do you have a large pantry? You could organize and free up space in your pantry to set up a home office.
What about the laundry room? Does it have a door? Add a desk, and you’re ready to start working.
2. Invest in comfortable furniture.
Your home office should be outfitted with comfortable and ergonomic furniture. This will help you stay productive and avoid any health problems from sitting in an uncomfortable position for long periods.
Make sure your chair is the right size for your desk. You want to rest your arms on the desktop comfortably without having to slouch or stretch.
Be sure your monitor is at eye level. You’ll strain your neck and shoulders if it’s too high or too low.
Consider using a footrest to take the pressure off your legs and back when you’re sitting for long periods of time.
A wrist rest for your keyboard will help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel.
3. Create an inspiring place to work
When you work from home, you can set up your home office space any way you like. You can add decor that inspires you to be productive and creative.
Adding plants to your home office will make you feel relaxed and at ease when working. I suggest succulents if you’re not good at keeping plants alive (I may have been known to kill a houseplant or two). They don’t require much water, and they are happy in artificial light.
Add family photos, vacation pictures, motivational sayings, and anything that will keep you inspired and on task when working.
Don’t forget to have a designated background if you have video meetings with others. Nothing is more distracting than an unorganized background on a call.
4. Get home office organization supplies
Setting up a home office requires storage and organization. Ensure you have a designated spot for all your files, office supplies, and anything else you will need to work from home.
Tips to help you stay productive
5. Declutter your desk.
A cluttered desk is a recipe for distraction. Take the time to declutter your workspace and get rid of any non-essential items. This will help you focus on the task at hand and be more productive.
6. Eliminate distractions
Being able to work from home is wonderful, but distractions come in many forms.
- Kids want your attention
- Household chores nagging to be done
- The television and your favorite show are waiting in the living room
- Friends calling to chat
- Social media
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you are available to do these things during your working hours.
You must become disciplined to eliminate the distraction of your favorite TV show and social media while you’re working. With all the streaming options in this day and age, that TV show will be there when you’re done working.
Social media can be a time suck, and before you know it, a half hour of your working time is gone. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer so you won’t be tempted to check and see what’s happening.
Household chores should be in your daily schedule (we’ll talk about a daily schedule later) and not interfere with your working time.
Pets are a great joy, but they can be very needy when they know you’re home. Getting up to let them outside or play with them can cause a dead stop to your working time.
Routines are important for pets, and they will get used to your schedule. If you have an especially active dog, consider hiring a dog walker to help you when you’re working or even a doggie daycare.
Friends calling to chat in the middle of your workday can be a welcome distraction, but when it happens too often you’ll find yourself getting behind on your work. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about setting boundaries later that will help you with this.
7. Create a routine to help you be productive
Getting started each day when you work from home can be challenging. There will be multiple things that demand your time. A routine will help you stay on task.
Get up, make your bed, shower, and have breakfast.
Check email, make return phone calls, set up your daily to-do list
These are both examples of a routine. Working at developing routines and practicing them consistently will turn them into habits, and before you know, your day will flow so much easier.
8. Work during your most productive hours
I can knock out a lot of work in the morning. It’s when I’m the most creative. By the afternoon, my energy is waning, and I’m ready for a change of scenery. After a break, I can usually get back to it for a few more hours.
Knowing when you are most productive is key and one of the best work-from-home tips I can give you. Some of us aren’t morning people. The afternoon may bring a slump in productivity. Figure out when you are most productive and schedule work during those times.
9. Set up a work calendar of tasks
Whether you’re a paper calendar or digital calendar person, it’s important to set up a calendar of tasks that need to be done to keep you on track.
I use a simple Google calendar and the time-blocking technique to keep myself on task. This helps me figure out how much I can get done each day and ensures I complete work on time.
You can also use a project management tool. There are several out there that are really good for organizing your work. Asana ,Trello and Monday are great for project management. ClickUp is another one that is great to use. I have tried them all and so far ClickUp has become my favorite.
10. Prioritize your work with a to-do list
Once you have a calendar set up, it’s time to break those tasks down into a to-do list. The to-do list takes a project and breaks it down into bite-sized tasks to help you finish it.
To-do lists are great if you have to be able to mark off a task as done. I’m one of those people.
11. Manage your time
You’ve set up your calendar, and you have your to-do list; now what? How do you make sure you get it all done?
Time management is key to working from home. If you can’t manage your time, you’ll struggle every day.
When I’m struggling, I set my timer on my phone and use the Pomodoro method for time management. I set my timer for 25 minutes, then work non-stop until the time ends. Then I take a 5-minute break. Then I work for another 25 minutes. Rinse and repeat. After four 25-minute sessions, I take a 15-minute break.
I use the timer on my phone, but you can also download the Pomodoro Focus Timer app to your phone.
12. Multitasking – DON’T DO IT
We have been conditioned throughout our lives to multitask. Talk on the phone and cook dinner. Help with homework and fold laundry. We may think we are being more productive and getting more done, but are we?
When you work from home, it’s important to focus on the task at hand to get it done promptly and ensure it is done correctly. If you try to do something else simultaneously, you will spend twice as much time on a task.
Focus on one thing at a time and get it done. Then move on to the next task.
13. Set boundaries for others while you are working
Boundaries are important. Especially on your time as you work from home. Let your kids and spouse know the hours you will be working and that they must occupy themselves without you. They would have to if you worked outside the home.
Set them up for success by making lunches ahead, having snacks available, or even having activities outside the home plan.
Does this mean they can never poke their heads into the room while you work? Of course not, but they must understand that your work is important even if you do it at home.
Self-care tips for working at home
14. Take breaks
Taking breaks throughout the day is important to stay refreshed and focused. Get up and move around. Check on your family; let the dog out. Get a drink or snack.
If you work on a computer all day, it’s important to get away from the screen and focus your eyes and brain on something else.
15. Have set work hours
Set specific hours you will work when working from home. This will help with boundaries, like we discussed above, and allow you also to take the time you need to spend with family and friends.
Working long hours over your set time is not good for you mentally or physically. It’s easy to allow work to creep in and take over. Whether you work for a company or are self-employed, work creep is real. Draw the line and step away; you’ll be glad you did.
16. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Don’t be afraid to tell your boss no. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have unlimited time to work. We all have the same 24 hours. Adding more to your plate that will extend your workday and create more stress is not worth it.
Trust me, if you take on more projects you will work longer hours. You won’t just shut down your computer, clock out, and go home. Learn the art of saying no for your mental and physical well-being.
17. Manage your expectations
Pushing yourself to do more, learn more, and know more is human nature. It’s okay to push yourself to be the best you can be at what you do. But, learn your limits. You can’t be and do all the things all the time.
You will have days where you don’t get everything done. Heck, you’ll have days where you don’t get anything done. I know. I’ve been there. Working from home is freeing and wonderful, but remember you are human and not perfect. Give yourself grace when every day isn’t perfect.
18. Get ready for your workday
Remember those routines we talked about? Get up each workday and get ready as if you were physically leaving the house to work.
Take a shower, do your hair, and get dressed. Don’t live every day in your pajamas, as tempting as it may be. Your productivity will be higher when you take the time to start the day off right.
19. Take time to be active
Make time each day to be active. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day because you’ll be sitting at a desk for most of the day.
I take time in the morning and go to the gym, but you can just as easily exercise at home or walk after eating lunch.
20. Interact with others
Working from home can be lonely. It’s not the same as having co-workers with you every day. Make human connections throughout the day. Talking to others helps you mentally keep going and keeps you from feeling isolated.
Interact with other remote team members over video chat or text. Talk to your spouse or a friend at lunch. Meet a friend for lunch. There’s no rule that you can’t leave the house for lunch! Make those human connections.
Working from home and working on your schedule is something a lot of people would love to be able to do. It’s not all sunshine and roses, but if you follow these work-from-home tips, you’ll be productive and successful.
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