How to be Productive When Working at Home

Tips for being productive when working from home. Tips from Callie Cullum, graphic design and branding in Atlanta, Georgia

This past weekend I was up in the mountains of Asheville at my future in-laws mountain house to do some wedding planning. Their house is tucked away in the mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and I couldn’t help but notice how focused I was there versus when I am back at home working in my home office. When working at home, if feels like there are endless amounts of menial chores that can derail my focus for hours. There always seems to be a little voice telling me things like “I’ll start working right after I clean the house”, or “I just need to run one errand and then I will sit down and focus on what I need to do today”. I’ve talked with friends who say they often feel the same way, so I thought I’d share a few tips that have helped me focus when working at home.

Get dressed every morning as if you are going to an office job.  

Ok, well maybe you don’t have to get dressed up per se, but every morning when you wake up before you “go” to work, change out of your pajama’s and get ready for the day. This simple task will help you feel more motivated and prepared for success as it helps put you in a healthier mindset. It also helps create a routine, which can set you up to be your most productive when working at home.

Have a routine.

When I was working at an office job, my life was set into a very monotonous routine. Wake up, commute to work, work, commute home, eat dinner, relax, go to bed, repeat. To be honest, I don’t like routine. I like each day to be different from the next and for things to constantly be changing.  With that said, having a routine when working from home helps you compartmentalize your work life from your personal life, which can be hard to do! So make a work week routine that helps you separate your work life from your personal one. 

Have a home office.

This may seem obvious, but having a separate space for your work and business related tasks is extremely important to your productivity. Blending personal space and work space will eventually decrease your productivity tremendously. It is also important to be able to “leave it at the office”. If you have a bad day, you need to be able to “leave work” and try to enjoy your evening, which is hard to do when you’ve been working from your couch or bedroom all day.  So set up a desk, decorate it however you want and treat it as if it was your office outside of your home.

Take breaks.

Taking breaks when working from home is very important. Research shows that people who take small breaks throughout the workday are more productive than their colleagues who don’t. Make sure you are getting up often throughout the day for mini-breaks, and also take a lunch break. I make sure to leave the house at least once a day, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block. It helps me come back to my computer more focused and it also helps with the cabin-fever feeling that can sometimes creep up when working full-time from home. I also use an app called Stand Up that sets an alarm off on my phone every 25 minutes to stand up and walk around for a few minutes. It’s easy to get lost in work and forget to get up, which isn’t healthy for our productivity or our physical health.

Create boundaries.

This tip relates back to all the tips above, which makes it even more important. Being able to separate work life from personal and family life is hard when it’s all somewhat blended together. Keeping these as separate as possible will help you keep a clear, focused mind and set you up for success. At the end of the day, force yourself to step away from your computer.  I’ve had tremendous success in this by going to my yoga class from 5-6pm and not getting back on my computer for work related tasks once I’m home. By leaving the house at the end of the day I create a boundary between work and play and give my mind a rest so I can come back the next morning focused and ready to succeed.

When all else fails, leave.

If the dirty dishes or laundry keeps calling your name and you just can’t seem to focus, head to your nearest coffee shop and do some work out of the house for a bit. This should help you leave menial tasks and distractions back at home and focus on what’s important at work. It also helps my productivity to be around other working individuals. You will probably end up getting more done in a shorter amount of time, and carve out some extra time to tackle those household chores which results in more time to focus on you.

Working at home has so many wonderful benefits, but it takes a lot of motivation and determination as well.  But if I can do it, so can you and I hope these tips will help you!

I’d love to hear what are some of your tips for being productive while working from are! Comment below if you have tips that I haven’t mentioned here!