Productivity Tips for Working at Home

bunny slippers for working at homeI’ve been lucky enough to work at home part- or full-time since 1990. For the first ten years of that period, I worked for a large company and was able to work in my bunny slippers two days a week. Being accountable to my boss and the people who worked for me was great motivation to stay focused and be productive, even though no one was physically able to see what I was up to. Working for myself since 2000 has required a new level of focus – only I know whether I’ve met my objectives for the day or played hooky. If you’re a “home worker,” the following tips will help you stay focused and productive, even if no one else is watching.

Think through your work area. Although it’s important to have easy access to the equipment and supplies you need, the beauty of working at home is that you don’t necessarily need an entire room dedicated to work, and you don’t necessarily have to work in just one place. For example, my “official” office is a nook in my basement, but in the summer (when I like to look outside), I work at my dining room table, or even on my deck. Find a space in your home that will not only accommodate the equipment and supplies you need, but will also allow you to focus on work while still enjoying your surroundings.

Have regular office hours. When you work at home there’s always the temptation to keep on working into the night – after all, there’s always something you could work on. Consider setting a time to close up shop, and at the designated time, turn off your computer, stop replying to texts and e-mails, and even consider turning off the ringer on your phone or put your cell phone on silent. Your brain will appreciate the break, and your friends and family will appreciate your full attention without the distraction of work activities.

Keep work and personal tasks separate. Sure it only takes a few minutes to throw in a load of laundry or make a phone call to schedule doctor’s appointment, but when you interrupt your workflow to take care of personal tasks, you potentially waste a lot of time ramping back up to get into work mode. If you need to take care of personal tasks during your workday, schedule regular times to take care of them – knowing you have time carved out for these things will allow you to feel confident they’ll get taken care of and help you resist the urge to interrupt yourself throughout the day. If you have kids or pets who might disrupt your workday, consider getting help from other family members or professionals to take care of them during work hours – sometimes a closed door or a “mommy/daddy’s busy” admonishment just aren’t enough.

Take regular breaks. Although interrupting yourself to work on personal tasks during work time can be inefficient, it’s also important that you do take some breaks during your workday. Visit my previous blog post on this subject and determine how and when a break or two makes sense for you.

Build in people time. One of the complaints I often hear from home workers is the isolation they feel from working solo. Re-energize yourself by building “people time” into your day or week – meet a friend for lunch, make time for personal phone calls, or bring your work to a coffee shop. Or save money and travel time by simulating the coffee shop atmosphere at home with sites/apps like Coffitivity.

Keep things in perspective. No matter whether you work at home or in an office, your focus shouldn’t be on how much time you spend working as much as on how much important work you accomplish. Here’s to your success!

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,

Signature Sue

4 thoughts on “Productivity Tips for Working at Home

  1. I work at home plus I am working a full time job also and I find it harder to follow a certain work flow because I always do feel rushed to squeeze in whatever I can get done online from day to day. I am gearing up to staying home full time but have not reached that goal yet. Even though I do both I feel that every moment I am not at my regular job I am slaved to my online work. The tips you outlined are something we all should follow. Even me with my double lifestyle. Thanks

  2. Sue Becker says:

    It sounds like you certainly have a lot on your plate, David. It’s important to focus on the important things at any given moment so nothing falls through the cracks. Good luck making the transition to working at home full time. Let us know how it goes.

  3. Mary Macadam says:

    My husband and I have a goal to work full time from home, we both currently have jobs outside the home. I work part time as a dental assistant. With the economy what it is today and so many people losing their insurance benefits the dental field has really slowed and work is often part time only. The beauty of working online is there is no need to be concerned about the local economy since our “neighborhood” is the entire world. And as far as productivity at home I too set up a place to work for me it is my couch and my lap top. TV off is my rule and of course NO Facebook I have breakfast and lunch at the same time everyday even the dog knows the schedule. Remember it is a job and you get out of it what you put into it. If earning from home interests you here is a site that I recommend http://www.freedom2ern.com

  4. Sue Becker says:

    It sounds like you’ve done a good job of creating routines and boundaries for your work, Mary. Best wishes for continued success.

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