Tips for Working From Home: 5 Ways to Develop Your Routine

Apr 24, 2015 - Joe Matar
No one likes driving to an office or making a long commute to and from work each day. Not only does it waste time and gas, but it also takes away from precious time you could be doing other things like spending time with your family, relaxing, or just doing absolutely nothing at all. A recent survey from Stanford University revealed that more than 10 percent of all U.S. employees now work from home. That’s the dream though, isn’t it? You get to be your own boss. You can sit around in your pajamas all day — whatever you want! Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. During an interview with Glassdoor, the founder of Jobacle.com made a comment about working from home that applies to a great many people: “losing the structure provided by a regular office job can be detrimental to success.” Working from home can be difficult for a lot of reasons, but let’s not dwell on the negatives here. Instead, let’s focus on some of the top ways you can stay productive when working from home. Read on for some key strategies and tips for working from home, so you can keep your head on straight and your stress levels in check. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Create a set schedule

The worst thing you can do when working from home is to fail to define the clock-in and clock-out times during the week. You don’t have to work the 9-to-5 grind unless you want to. But even if you’re more of a night owl, you need to set the hours and stick to that routine. If you don’t set work hours, you’ll find yourself pulling long nights every day — and you’ll end up burning yourself out early on in the week.

2. Ensure minimal interruptions

It’s hard to treat your home or makeshift office like a workspace, but it needs to be treated as such. If you worked in an office, you wouldn’t be interrupted by kids, family members, or even dogs and cats, would you? When working from home, it’s hard for these people (and pets) in your life to understand that you still can’t be interrupted for every little thing and still get your work done. Have a conversation with your friends and family about keeping their questions and comments to you at a minimum during your working hours. It’s important that you do this delicately so as not to insult them or come across as demanding. Use real world examples like an actual office job or an off-site position to showcase the kind of environment you need when working from home. As far as Fido goes: he may not understand English, but a good bone should keep him busy for a while.

3. Keep Your workspace defined and clean

Setting aside space to work in is incredibly important. You can’t expect to get work done each day if you’re sprawled out on the couch. You need a space to go to that is free of distractions and clutter. Try a computer desk or a separate office room. Make it your own with decor that motivates you. How about a little plant life? Multiple studies have shown that having a plant in your office increases productivity and makes you feel more energetic by detoxifying the air in the room. Plus, it looks nice! Don’t forget to keep your desk clean. Having papers or empty coffee mugs everywhere is a distraction and makes it harder to stay focused and organized. Research shows that your desk can collect 400 times more bacteria than the number on your toilet seat. Isn’t that enough reason to keep it tidy and free of lunch crumbs?

4. Take regular breaks

It’s extremely easy to get sucked into your work each day and forget about things like lunch. Science Daily reported that people tend to spend an average of five hours per day staring at a screen. That can take a toll on your eyes pretty quickly, and it can make you feel drained. Remember to stop at least a couple of times per day to stretch your legs, relax your eyes, and eat something. You won’t be doing your clients any good by running yourself into the ground.

5. Stop working at the end of the day

Susan Seaburg, a field development manager for Hewlett Packard, hit the nail on the head when she said during an interview:
“The good news is that now you can work anywhere, and the bad news is that now you can work anywhere.”
You could be suffering from this feeling that you need to keep working long past 5 p.m., and you might not even realize it. Even people who work from home need to “leave work” when they’re done for the day.. If you never “shut off” then your personal life and your stress levels suffer as a result. Go out, spend time with your family, and remember that just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you’re always working. You still need that work-life balance. Working from home is very much like working anywhere else. It requires good communication, focus, and a strong work ethic. It comes with its own challenges and its own benefits. The most important thing is to remember where the boundaries between work and life lie, so you never lose that all-important balance. Be sure to chime in with your own strategies for working from home in the comments! Matt Banner is writer and editor at On Blast Blog, where he helps helps people working from home get their blogs off the ground and make them money. Contact him on Twitter @BlastYourBlog.