Work From Home: 10 Tips for Being Super Productive Outside the Office

Mar 25, 2015 - Joe Matar
Have you just started working from home? Whether you’re a corporate executive or freelance entrepreneur, there are many benefits of working from home: the freedom and flexibility to make your own schedule, the time saved from water cooler distractions, and of course, the dreaded commute. Companies are also now recognizing the financial benefits of allowing employees the option of working from home, like reduced turnover and higher engagement. I spent the last four years of my corporate career working from home part time. When I transitioned to becoming an entrepreneur and working for myself, the shift to being at home full time was a lot more manageable for me. With all of the added flexibility and freedom, working from home can still be a struggle — especially when it comes to focus and efficiency. If you’ve just started working from home, or perhaps struggle with being effective and efficient with your time, here are some tips to help: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Have a morning routine

Now that you no longer need to rush out the door to sit in traffic for the next hour, you can use that time to set yourself up for an effective and more peaceful day. I used to start my day by hitting snooze, rushing to the shower, throwing myself together, and grabbing a coffee on the run. Now my routine starts with practicing gratitude and meditation, followed by twenty minutes of yoga. Can you feel the difference? However you want to start your day, it should set you up for a more relaxed and healthier state of mind. Consider reading, juicing or even running. Whatever you decide, start it first thing in the morning and make it a habit.

2. Get dressed

I’m still guilty of this once in a while. But there is a big difference in how confident I feel when I’m sitting in my pajamas versus if I get dressed for the day. One of the benefits of working from home is the permission to be comfortable, and so getting dressed may simply mean putting on a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. For others the confidence may come from putting on your best suit. Either way, getting in the habit of getting dressed and ready for the day will allow you to shift gears into a more strategic and business mindset.

3. Consciously start your day with intention

Intention setting can be important in a telecommuting environment, so you can give yourself the distinction between work and home. Some people like to walk around the block before they start working for the day. For me, I go to my “working mind” and make a conscious intention to have a productive and efficient day. Think about how you would use the commute to the office to get prepared for the day, and instead do that at home before you turn on the computer.

4. Have a dedicated work space that you enjoy working in

How frustrating is it when you are working on a project and realize that you are missing that one tool you need to move forward? You end up on a mission to find it, and your time quickly slips away from you. My workspace is set up with all of the tools I need, and I have decorated it to my personal style that inspires and motivates me. I have pictures from trips I have taken around the world, my vision board, and a chalkboard with this month’s inspirational quote. If you don’t have a spare space that you can dedicate solely as your home office, find a space in your home that you can use regularly and easily so that you can set up your office in an instant. Get a few plastic totes to contain all your office supplies if you’ll be changing up your scenery often. All you’ll have to do is grab your tote and your laptop. You’re ready to go.

5. Remove (or at least reduce) possible distractions

One of the many benefits of working from home is the flexibility. But this newfound freedom could also be one of your biggest downfalls. Remove as many distractions as you can. Kids, pets, and spouses can all be distracting, so do what you can to reduce those interruptions, especially at the most critical times for your productivity. The same applies to scheduling visitors and appointments. Use your time wisely. If you must schedule the furnace repairman or that long awaited dentist appointment, do so at the beginning or the end of the day to avoid wasting your whole day waiting.

6. Create a schedule for your day

How many times have you lost track of time spent on Facebook? Be honest. It’s a time suck, and I’ve been there. The same applies to emails and any other personal project that you may be working on. Once you lose track of time, you start to lose momentum and productivity. Set limits and focus on time sensitive projects first. It is also important to schedule more important tasks at the time of day when you are most productive. Tune into your body and learn when you are most alert and concentrated.

7. Break for lunch

When you’re working in an office, it’s important for your mental and physical health to take regular breaks. If you’re working from home, these breaks are less likely to be a guaranteed element of your day. Since your home kitchen is close by, you may not feel that you need to take a break to eat. Instead, try exercising. Lunchtime can be one of the most effective times of day to get a workout in. A midday workout and can also reduce stress and tension that may have built up during the morning.

8. Consciously end your day with intention

Just like you started your day with intention, it is equally important to end the day with intention. Set yourself a reasonable time to finish your workday and take time to review what you accomplished. Celebrate your successes and achievements and allow yourself a moment to decompress from the day with deep breaths or take a walk around the block. Again, consider how you would decompress during your regular commute home from the office, and create a similar routine from home. I always end my day at around the same time, by taking my dog for a walk. I find that it is the best way to ground myself and clear my head from the events of the day.

9. Maintain social interactions

Depending on your line of work, schedule regular visits or meetings with your colleagues, clients or supervisors to ensure that your social needs are being met as you work from home. During my corporate career, I made a point to go into the office at least once per week.  Now  that I am self-employed, I stay in touch with other entrepreneurs to share best practices and success stories. If face-to-face visits aren’t possible, try to schedule meetings via webcam.

10. Know when to turn it off

While one of the key benefits of working from home is the ability to save time and improve work-life balance, it can sometimes have the opposite effect. Recognize when your work life is really beginning to overtake your home life, and know when to walk away for the day to keep a balance in your life. Knowing when to “call it a day” is critical to ensure that you also allow yourself time for your personal needs. By understanding and tailoring these tips to your match your own personal style, you will allow yourself to be much more effective in your personal and your professional life. What are your top tips for working at home? Jodie Hebbard is a life coach who broke free from the corporate world to live life by her own rules. She works with clients to help them break away from a life of settling and into a life of passion and fulfillment, and you can follow her at www.jodiehebbard.com.