14 Top Tips for Working at Home

Tips for working at home and staying productive

Working from home (in your own business) has huge advantages – no long commute during rush hour, no need to ask permission to go to the dentist or leave early to pick up the kids from school. But it can bring a whole new set of problems too – especially if you’re new to working from home. Losing the structure provided by an office frame can be very confusing for some people. Problems can include things like, Never Actually Switching Off! Or other people not respecting your time. Or just not getting organized enough to actually get anything done!

So when we work from home, how can we stay productive – and maintain a work-life balance?

I’ve compiled a list of tips for working from home that I’ve found helpful (by the way, I’ve been working from home now for over 11 years – and I wouldn’t want to go back to an office for nothing! However, I still find these tips extremely useful as a reminder of what I should be doing from time to time).

Tips for working from home: 1. define your workspace.

You need to have a workplace – and one that isn’t sitting on the couch in front of the TV! If you don’t have a separate study (which is the ideal option), try having a desk in the spare bedroom or dining room. You need a space where you can close the door and feel like you are “u travai” and therefore feel like you have “rava” when you move out of that space at the end of your day. Psychologically, this is important because it changes your state of mind from “at home” to “at work. Learn how to concentrate. Being able to close the door to your separate space is vital – if the door is open, it can signal to your family that you are available for conversation (or play!).

Wherever your workspace is, make sure you keep it tidy – the old adage about a tidy desk equals a tidy mind is true! The tidier and more organized your workspace, the more productive you’ll be. Also, make sure you have the equipment you need – especially make sure you have a comfortable chair with back support.

Tips for working at home: 2. set ground rules with those around you

Set your work hours (see point 4) and make sure your friends and family are aware of and respect them. You are not available for coffee, long lunches or play! Your friends and family probably wouldn’t bother you in an office with questions that can easily wait until you get home – but if home is your office, they may not show the same restraint. Many friends and family will also think that when you are working from home, you are able to stop for a coffee or a long lunch at a moment’s notice! Make sure everyone understands that interruptions are only for urgent matters.

Tips for working from home: 3. prepare for work – physically and mentally

Have breakfast, take a shower and get dressed. You don’t have to wear a suit – but don’t stay in your pajamas! Getting dressed first thing in the morning gets you ready for work – it gets your state of mind in the right place.

Don’t turn on the computer just to check the emails you pass by first thing in the morning (I’m guilty of this one!) Suddenly you realize it’s lunchtime and you’re still in your PJs with a stinking headache cos you haven’t had breakfast (let alone a shower!)

Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind for the day. Start the day right

Tips for working at home: 4. defining regular hours – and sticking to them

One advantage of working at home is that you don’t have to work 9-5 if you don’t want to. I tend to work from 9.30-3.00 (with a lunch break) and then 7.30-8.30 in the evening (after my son is in bed). Think about what works for you. You may have to work early in the morning or evening to adjust to your family life or to communicate with colleagues in other time zones.

Whatever hours you decide – stick to them! (You are entitled to some flexibility – but don’t let work run your life).

I think it’s one of the hardest “rules” when you work from home – it’s so easy to never turn off the lights on when you’re working from home.

Tips for working at home: 5. don’t think you need a spotless home!

Don’t spend more time on chores than on work! A little light housework in your “lunch hour” is acceptable, as it’s popping the odd load of laundry on, but really, when you’re at work, you’re at work – even if you work at home. If you can afford to get a cleaner and you would have one if you were working a “ravo appropri” in an office – always get one. Please don’t think you have to be Superwoman (or Superman) and do everything yourself because other people think you have a lot more time because you work from home!

If you take your job seriously, especially if you’ve just started a new business at home, then you need to put the hours into your work – not into cleaning the house! Plan non-work time for household chores and ask the rest of the family to do their part. It’s important that you don’t take on all the housework just because you work from home – those around you need to respect the fact that even if you are at home, you have serious work to do during your scheduled hours.

Tips for working from home: 6. limiting distractions

If your work permit- Turn off the phone so you can concentrate and get on without distraction. Only check your e-mail at certain times of the day. It’s so easy to get distracted by e-mails that you think you have to answer them IMMEDIATELY! If you do that, you will never get any tasks completed!

Turn off your Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc. while you work. Check your instant messaging at certain times and only go to Facebook during your breaks. I know that working at home can be lonely so using social media can feel like your lifeline to the outside world – but it can quickly take over your day and ruin your productivity.

Tips for working at home: 7. make a daily to-do list

Making lists can really help you focus and stop procrastinating – which for some reason, we seem to do more of when we’re sitting at home on our own! I make a weekly to-do list and then break it down into daily tasks. I use the steven covey approach to time management as much as possible and the key thing for me is to focus on my

LARGE STONES. Don’t just choose the easy tasks – spend quality time on your Big Rocks and your business will fly!

If you’re really struggling to concentrate (even with a to-do list) try planning what you’re going to do every hour that should help you stay productive!

Tips for working at home: 8. create small deadlines

This follows point 7 – and can also help stop the dreaded procrastination! When you start the day, it seems like you have a lot of time and it can be easy to get hijacked by the TV or the phone. Set goals for finishing work pieces – for example “I’m going to finish writing this blog by 11am”. “I will finish this marketing activity by 1.00”. This helps break up your day and keep you focused on the task.

Tips for working at home: 9. don’t just take a day off because things get tough!

Don’t just take a day off because you don’t feel like working today! If you have a hard day – persevere – do some work anyway! If you’re sick, get sick – take a good day off to get better. If you organize a vacation day off that’s fine – but don’t just decide that you can’t be bothered to work today – it’s a slippery slope down when all of a sudden you never get anything!

Tips for working at home: 10. Take planned breaks

There are different ways to do this – depending on your work style. But give yourself breaks. Some people find it helpful to take a 15-minute break for every hour you work. Or maybe you prefer to take a 15-minute break twice a day. In addition to small breaks, take an appropriate lunch break. Eat something healthy – AWAY FROM YOUR OFFICE! Get out of the house and get some fresh air – it will really make you much more productive when you come back to your office. Just sitting in front of your computer without breaks will simply result in “diminishing e-backs”. You think you’re working really hard – but the results just aren’t that great!

Tips for working at home: 11. finish when you’re finished

Know when to stop working! Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you should work all the time you’re at home! Leave work at the end of the day.

Susan Seaburg (Hewlett Packard’s Director of Field Development) offers her views on working at home in an interview with the University of Santa Clara:

“The good news is that now you can work anywhere – the bad news is that now you can work anywhere. ยป

Most people go home to get away from work – you don’t have that option. So be careful to maintain a good work-life balance.

Tips for working at home: 12. Watch your mood

Everything you listen to will influence your mood – or distract you from the task. Personally, I hate working in silence, so if I really need to concentrate, I put on non-intrusive music just to create background noise! (My husband is the opposite – he has to work in complete silence, so we use separate rooms if he works at home as well!) If I don’t have to concentrate too hard, I listen to educational audios – as a member of the Empower Network Inner Circle, I have access to a variety of recordings by people at the top of Internet marketing – so I listen to those every day. These can also be great to lift your mood if you’re feeling a little low or unfocussed. Find out what works for you and make sure you surround yourself with things that will give you the best frame of mind for everything you do.

Tips for working at home: 13. look for opportunities to communicate with other humans!

If you know you can’t be too distracted, go to work at a coffee shop, hotel or library sometimes because it can just give you a change from being at home all day. Most cafes have free wifi these days if you need to be on the internet.

Attend training courses or local networking events to maintain some human contact – and maybe pick up some stuff too!

Skype or Facebook chat rooms can also be a good way to communicate with the outside world. I use these methods a lot because my team and colleagues are all over the world. But as mentioned before, not being sucked into spending hours a day chatting online and not getting anything else done.

Make the odd phone call too – don’t just use email. It’s good for your mental health to actually talk to someone once in a while!

And last but not least –

Tips for working at home: 14. be RECOGNIZING!

Be thankful that you can work at home. That you don’t have to make the awful commute, that you can be home when the kids come home from school, that you’re not stuck in an office without windows or a shared cubicle! Above all, BE PRODUCTIIVE so you can continue to work from home!

I hope you have found my best tips for working at home helpful. If you want to see how I make money working from home every day – please take a look at my blog site listed below.

I want to start a revolution in working from home!


Louise Fleming is a business coach and training entrepreneur. In addition to running a successful high-end custom furniture business, she also runs her own online marketing company. For more ideas on how you can make money working from home please visit Louise’s blog site at [http://www.flemingfreedomplan.com].

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