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How to Be Productive When You Work from Home

Updated on February 24, 2012

Create a Productive Home Office

The Dream

Many of us dream of the day when we can get up at any time we want and hang out leisurely in our pajamas drinking a cup of coffee before we walk over to our desk and start our day. Sounds perfect, right? Isn't that what we expect when we talk about working from home? Even those of us who may be more practical than that still often believe that working from home is easier than going to a job five days a week.

The truth is, it can be just as hard to work from home as it is to go to an office and work. The challenges are different, but they are there nevertheless. But by adding a dose of reality in with the dream, you can achieve long-term success from working at home.

The Reality

Working from home has a unique set of challenges. They can be overcome, and you can be successful and profitable. Here are a few tips to help you:

1. Create a routine.

Just because you don't have to answer to someone every day, you shouldn't give up the idea of following a routine. It can be more relaxed and fit your schedule, but you do need to have a regular routine.

A routine lets you know what needs to be done and when. It gives you a set of expectations so that you aren't sitting around wandering what to do next. You are the boss, so you can set the routine. What time will you start work? When will you take breaks? What time will you end your workday? Will you read your email first thing in the morning or do another task first?

If you are doing creative work, a routine helps to keep you from sitting at your desk with no ideas in mind. Call it writer's block or whatever term your field uses, having a routine means you have specific things to do and you know what to work on.

2. Get dressed.

Save those pajamas for after work when you walk out of your home office. Getting dressed signals your body and your mind that it is time to do something different. Time to get focused and get to work.

3. Follow your body's signals.

Figure out when you are most creative or focused and do your hardest tasks at that time of day. This is one benefit of being your own boss; you can choose the most efficient way to work. This means you will probably spend less time working because you got everything done already.

4. Let family and friends know your schedule.

If you want to be productive, you can't have interruptions. Whether it is the kids coming in to ask for something or a friend calling to chat, you have to set boundaries. It will take awhile for people to understand that you are working when you are at home, but they will get it if you are consistent.

You don't have to be rude, but you can say something like, "I'd love to chat, but I'm in the middle of work right now. Can I call you back in a couple of hours when I'm done work?" This lets them know that you have a regular schedule.

5. Don't forget to socialize.

On the other hand, don't get so focused on your work that you lose touch with others. Just like you have to set boundaries to protect your work time, you also have to set them to protect your family and friend time. Working from home can seem like fun at first, but it can also get lonely. Depression is often a side effect for people who work at home. Don't let that happen to you.

Call up friends when you have a break or eat lunch if they are available. When you walk out of the office in the evening, don't go back. Play with your kids, go out with your significant other. This is even more important if you are single and don't have a network within your household. Keep the balance in your life.

Working from Home Resources

The Goal

You want to have a balanced life where you enjoy your work and the rest of your life. Working from home can be satisfying and enjoyable, but you have to prepare for the challenges that are involved.

Comments

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    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 

      6 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Good reminders. Thanks. Sandra Busby

    • jm72writes profile imageAUTHOR

      jm72writes 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you, Millionaire Tips! I appreciate the support.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      jm72writes, I am back to let you know that each week I write a hub that lists my favorites, and this hub has been included on the list for the week ending March 11. Congrats!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      I work from home and I found this hub very useful. Creating a routine is a good idea, but I'm not quite comfortable to work in routine.

    • jm72writes profile imageAUTHOR

      jm72writes 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Achieving balance is the hardest part for me, too. I always feel like something is being neglected, either my family or my work.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      These are excellent tips for working from home. I did imagine that it would be easier to work at my leisure, but I do find myself trying hard to get the balance right.

    • jm72writes profile imageAUTHOR

      jm72writes 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I agree about #4 and I also have trouble quitting work when I should. It's hard to separate work and the rest of your life when it occupies the same space. But loving what you do does make it easier!

    • seekingpeace91 profile image

      seekingpeace91 

      6 years ago

      Great hub- I also thought it would be difficult to work from home, and I think it is when you're not excited about your work... But your tips are so true! #4 is the toughest for me- I tend to let lots of smaller interruptions throughout the day really derail the steadiness of my work! Thanks again for good info!

    • jm72writes profile imageAUTHOR

      jm72writes 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you for your comments. Working from home isn't for everyone, but it's a dream for a lot of people. I wanted to give some pointers to help someone make it work for them.

    • BizVT34 profile image

      BizVT34 

      6 years ago from USA

      I've tried to work from home and I am lousy at it. Maybe your tools will work, I'll give it a shot. Thanks for making this Hub clear and easy to read.

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