working from home

6 Ways to Become More Productive When Working from Home

By Susan Guillory

While there’s a certain glamour around having a home office (no commute! work in your pjs!), the fact is: it’s not for everyone. Some people simply can’t ignore the siren song of Netflix or a fridge full of junk food, and so they can’t be productive working from home.

On the other hand, it does take some discipline and self-training to get the most out of working from a home office. Having done so for 10 years, I’ve picked up a tip or two along the way.

1. When You’re Working, You’re Working

I don’t care if the dryer is buzzing. I’m not answering. I get into work mode when I’m in my home office and stay there. If you have kids at home, get someone to watch them. You can’t succeed with your business if you don’t take it seriously, and that starts with acting like you’re at work, even if you’re working in a closet surrounded by winter coats.

2. Dedicate a Space

Speaking of that closet/workspace: it’s super important to have a specific spot carved out for your office. If you open up your laptop on the couch one day, then the dining room table the next, you don’t really have a “home” for your home office. Even the corner of a room works, but it should be permanent. Ideally, you have a door to shut yourself off from the rest of the house.

3. Pick Your Productive Hours

If you’re not productive 9-5 and your business allows for it, choose the hours when you work best. That might be after the kids go to bed until midnight. Or during naptimes. Build your work schedule around home responsibilities so the two never compete.

4. Run Errands During Breaks

Some might be shocked that I am making this suggestion, but hear me out: I often go to exercise classes or do my shopping mid-morning. A) I don’t have to compete with everyone else that goes after 5:00 or on the weekends, and B) getting out of the office often provides clarity on a project I’m working on. I’m uber productive when I get back. And because I can pick my productive hours, I can have some flexibility around doing other things.

5. Pick Your Top 3 Priorities

Whether you work from home or elsewhere, you likely have a stack of things that need doing on any given day. Try this: when you wrap up for the day, identify the three most important items on your list for tomorrow. When you come into work in the morning, you have purpose. Once you finish those priorities, work on the rest of your list.

6. Don’t Isolate

Okay, as an introvertive writer who hates working out of a coffee shop, I’m not always practicing what I preach here. But working from home can be lonely. I have friends who wouldn’t survive without human companionship 40 hours a week. So if you need other humans, get out. You can run those errands like in #4, work from a coffee shop if that works for you, or attend networking events to meet other business owners.

If you’re still struggling to make working from home work, consider renting office space elsewhere. It’s of the utmost importance that you have a system that works for you and don’t try to force it.

Subscribe to the Small Business Bonfire Newsletter
And get your free one-page marketing plan template.
Susan Guillory on DeviantartSusan Guillory on FacebookSusan Guillory on GoogleSusan Guillory on Twitter
Susan Guillory
Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She's written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

4 comments

Get RSS Feed
  1. I too have worked out of the home since 2009. It’s not always easy.

    One thing that helps me is that I have two places that I really like to work right now – my home office, and my back patio. But while I like working out of my home office, I can only do it for a few hours at a time, so I move back and forth throughout the day. Fortunately, I’m in Southern California so I can do the back patio pretty much year round.

    Another trick I use is that when I’m going to spend an hour doing social media (I work on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, mainly), I’ll go for my 5 or 6 mile walk, and at some point during it, I have certain good spots along park trails and the like where I have a quiet place with a good view where I can turn the music off on my phone and get a good hour or half hour of social done.

    Anyway, I enjoyed your tips and I agree wholeheartedly…

    Cheers!

    • Irvine.

      So you know just how awesome our weather has been lately, huh?

      I was down there last week to meet up with someone I’m working with who was attending the Traffic and Conversion Summit. I was able to get into the Internet Marketing Party, but didn’t find out about TCS until it was too late, sadly.

      Contemplating the ifs on attending the Social Media Examiner event coming up. Perhaps see you there!

      Cheers!

  2. Gorgeous weather!

    I went to SME a few years ago as a volunteer. If it’s not too late, I recommend you doing that. It’s a bit pricey. I won’t be there. Nothing new to learn, it feels, for me….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *