Top Tips For Working From Home Effectively

Do you work from home? Are you like one of the 3.9 million other Americans who get to do their jobs in their pajamas? Working from home can have a lot of benefits, from avoiding the rush hour traffic to awaiting the plumber when you have a home repair disaster. But it can be a challenge as well.

If you struggle to be your productive self with children or pets making background noise, take a few tips from a pro. Here’s how to work from home effectively and actually get stuff done: 

1. Setup a Location

Ideally, you’ll have a home office where nobody bothers you and you can shut the door to keep interruptions out. But if that doesn’t sound like your setup, don’t despair. Working from home isn’t always ideal. But just because you can work in your pajamas doesn’t mean you should work from your bed.

Working from your bed, or sofa, or all over the house will shine through in your end results. Not only will your house end up covered in papers and cables, but your work invade your life. When you can see your computer constantly, there’s always the temptation to check more emails, send more orders, write some more lines. You never get to switch off.

So be sure to setup a location, no matter where it is, and work from the same place each day. If you can close a door on it, so much the better, but even if it’s only a sheet to cover up your laptop, make sure that your work zone is only used in certain hours. To be your most productive self you need to take breaks and get rest, so be as strict about this as you would in an office.

2. Dress for Work

You may not have to put on a suit and tie, but do make sure that you get dressed every day and take a shower while you’re at it. It can be very tempting to sleep until your alarm goes off, fall out of bed and onto the computer. But taking a shower and dressing for work will set you up for the day.

If you’re still trying to shake of last night’s lethargy, your working day will suffer. And worse than that, your social life will as well! You’ll be less likely to leave the house for lunch or to run an errand, and end up festering inside in your own dirt. Hardly living the dream.

3. Turn off Your Phone

You’re not going to get anything done if you give in to distractions. Working from home means exactly that—working. You’re not hanging out watching the TV or editing your photos on Snapchat. If you know you have to plow through an article or deliver a project for a deadline, turn off your phone. Make sure that other people understand that you need some time to concentrate and plan accordingly.

If you have small children that need looking after and a meeting that just can’t wait, do your best to plan accordingly. Does your toddler take a nap in the afternoon? Plan to call the office then. Do you have a next door neighbor who can look after your dog for half an hour? Be sure to ask in advance.

Working from home can be a double edged sword and is largely what you make of it. If you organize yourself well, designate a work zone and keep distractions down to a minimum, you’ll be a productivity machine. Turn on the TV, ditch the soap, and balance your laptop on your knees in bed and you probably won’t get too far.

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Comment by spencer rule on January 10, 2018 at 3:27pm

This is a great topic. I just started working from home again this past November. I did it once before for a couple years-- but this time I have one 2 year old :) Whole different ball game. 

The biggest things I've found to help so far have been:

- setting and sticking to a strict schedule (I use the pomodoro technique during work hours to help stay on task)

- I totally agree dressing for work helps get you in the zone. 

- The physical space point you made has been huge for me as well. I had to install some french doors in a home office space to better separate the room. 

- stay organized. I use trello and basecamp with my team religiously. 

Comment by Christina Comben on January 11, 2018 at 1:56am

Yes! I think I should have added my last point -- sometimes, you have to be prepared to give up. Especially when your sick toddler needs attention or your internet connection goes down. Nothing is perfect and tomorrow is a new day.

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