Categories / Tutorials

Tips for Staying Productive While Working From Home

Nick Hiley March 31, 2021 · 5 min read
For many, the idea of working from home sounds like the dream job. You wake up when you want, work in your underwear and watch reruns of Friends in the background while checking Twitter between productivity sessions. These are the kinds of things I did for the first couple of weeks when I started, and it soon became clear that I wasn’t productive enough or motivated to do the work. In this article, I’ll give you some tips on how you can start your career from home while staying productive, motivated and healthy, because the truth is, working with the TV on is very distracting and wearing nothing but underwear all day really gets depressing!
With any regular job, you wake up (usually in the morning), get dressed, have your breakfast then off you go to work for the day. This routine prepares you for what work you do throughout the day. I however, would wake up around 10:00am, open my laptop while slouched on my couch half dressed and start work. After about a week of working like this, my workflow deteriorated and not much work would get done. Remote work should be treated like any other job. I don’t mean you have to wear your best suit, but wake up at a reasonable hour and wear something respectable. It’s also very important to never skip breakfast and as you’re working from home, you could have whatever you like!
At the end of a day’s work, no matter how much I got done, I would feel like I hadn’t accomplished much. I didn’t give myself goals to aim for and this allowed me to do the bare minimum and simply call it a day. Before starting work, try writing down a checklist of what tasks you want to get done in that day. Each task doesn’t even have to be a big or complex one, it essentially gives you a clear path to work on throughout the day. Plus, if you manage to complete a full checklist before you check out, you can sit back and relax feeling very smug about yourself.
Working on your couch doesn’t get you in the right frame of mind for work. There are too many distractions like television and, in my case, family members. Instead, head on down to Ikea and grab yourself a desk and all the essentials of a professional work environment. Get set up in a room where there won’t be any distractions. Working like this really makes you more productive. However, it also gets boring, and being isolated drives me crazy so it’s a good idea to vary where you work once in a while. Working remotely means you have more freedom than a regular job, so you could spend your day at the local coffee shop and take advantage of their free WIFI (as long as you buy a coffee every twenty minutes). You might even want to hire out a personal workspace with ShareDesk. If all else fails, libraries are the perfect place to get stuck into your work (and yes, they still exist).
Sitting at your desk for hours at a time can get really frustrating. You become less focused and your work slows down. Avoid this by doing what you would do at any other job and take a break. I tend to give myself 30 minutes break for every 4 hours I work. During this time I have my lunch and do an activity that doesn’t involve a screen of some sort. Another good point to make is that you could stick to a set amount of hours to work in a day. This would help you organize your time better and to make sure you don’t over work yourself. I prefer to work in 4 hour blocks and try not to work more than 16 hours in a day.
When you mix your work life and personal life together, there aren’t many reasons why you should leave the house. In order to stop myself from going insane, I would go for a run each morning a dedicate some time per week to spend time with friends, go shopping or whatever was on the cards. Although there is a blurred line between professional and personal life when working remote, it is possible and important to keep them separate.

What Works for You?

To conclude, I want to say that this article was not intended to put your off the idea of working from home because once you get the ball rolling, remote work is great! You have so much more freedom than working at a regular job, you just need to make sure you’re paying the bills by staying productive. These are just a few things I do to stay productive and healthy when working from home. I’d like to hear what it’s like for you at home and what you do to stay on top of work. Leave a comment below!

Products Seen In This Post:

About the Author
Nick Hiley

Founder of King Digital, a digital design studio for small businesses and startups.

View More Posts
Related Articles
  • Great tips! It's been a while since I implemented the daily tasks, but I've certainly seen a decline in productivity and focus. The best daily task tip I have is to write it on a standard Post It note, that way you can only fit about 3 or 4 tasks on there. And then you can really sit back at the end of the day and feel smug when you accomplish those 3 big tasks :) 7 years ago
  • I have to agree about the Post It notes. Even with the advent of so many task management programs online, the best one is still the good old fashioned sticky note. Good post! 7 years ago
  • All these tips are spot on. They always work for me! 7 years ago
  • If you have not choice but to work from your own house, my golden rule is never, ever turn on the tv set. 7 years ago
  • Thanks! 7 years ago
  • Ive worked from home for 29 years! 8 to 12 hours a day. #1 have a door on your office. Have a door to the outside from your office. Walking through your house and seeing all the stuff you need ot want to do in your house will distract you. I try to take a break every hour or so, not healthy to sit so long. I have weights and a hoola hoop and in the winter my bike is on a spinner in my office. I do some yoga stances to get blood back in you brain. Mind you...Im only talking 2 - 5 minutes. Some times Ill walk around outside of house pick 2 or 3 weeds and come back in...or just get a glass of water. I start at 5am. No distractions. They really arent going to bug you that early....My customers know I start early because they see the time I email them...they like that. If Im slower then normal, I can take that 20-30 minute bike ride, or run and do some errands locally. I do have a TV in my office...rarely turn it on...I usually play Pandora all day while working. But some times in the am Ill LISTEN to the news for 1/2 hour or so...not more... over my left shoulder so I have to turn to look its not distracting. From years of experience, and raising a child from home while I worked.... Some how you end up with all the kids at you house ...because “you are home”. I was always too nice...but sometimes I had to say cant my son come over to your house to play, I really have a tight deadline with work. When the husband retires before you... lay down the rule “I dont do breakfast or lunch”... First day home he said what were you thinking for Now he’s come in handy to run errands for all not to bad in that department. Sorry so long..but I reall should write a 7 years ago
  • When I first started working from home, I worked at the dining room table. Since I set up an actual desk and work area, I find it MUCH easier to stay focused. Great tips! 7 years ago
  • I love Post it Notes for to do lists, too. I also found that I got so focused while I worked that I needed a reminder to take a break or else I would find myself sitting hunched over the computer for hours. I use a phone app called "Due" to schedule random activities through out my day to give me some breaks. 7 years ago
  • I work at home and for me is very important to go outside and have a walk. Its a way to recharge my batteries so I can work better and find more inspiration. Congrats for the article! 7 years ago
  • Love this article. It is so true. I could not stop laughing at some statements. Thanks for the great post. 7 years ago
  • Omg, I am the complete opposite. I sit on the couch, with my Tv on, in my slacks and still seem to be super productive! I think it's because I'm always working on some thing super exciting for three start-ups. Having the tv on in the background stops me feeling so isolated. For breaks, I walk the dog, eat, and have a gym session on my lunch break. I love the sticky note idea as I procrastinate on personal errands I need to do. 7 years ago
  • I like lists and sticky notes. I don't get stressed out about remembering what I have to do... because it's written down. 7 years ago
  • Really useful tips! Thank You) I also go for a run every morning, otherwise I may not leave my apartment for days) 7 years ago
  • Thank you for featuring us and using our photo :) 7 years ago
  • I am still struggling with this. Some times I nail it and others its just a bummer. Like today... I also have a 6mo baby which make things a little more complicated to focus since his so chubby =) 7 years ago
  • LOL....Thanks.... I've been through all of the above.... so true. I used to be a workaholic and burnt out from working non-stop due to the home/work place being one. Balance in life is extremely important to me now and I find I enjoy the design process much more. Also because working freelance is solitary I found my inspiration and passion waning. An artist interviewed on CNN suggested if inspiration falters try a different medium as a hobby. I tried this and I've found that my design work has now taken on a whole new look and feel. 7 years ago
  • Hey, why can't we talk with people who comment here? =/ 7 years ago
  • Great tips, so useful in this precise moment to me.... 7 years ago
  • Great tips! I've been working from home for several months now and found it works best for me to switch up my work place every once in a while. Sometimes I'll work in my home office, other times I'll hit the library or find a table at Starbucks. Oddly enough, the change of scenery definitely helps me get my mind focused and work more productively! 7 years ago
  • Thank you for sharing... :) 7 years ago
  • I love sticky notes and notepads, there's nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment when you can physically cross something off your list. Also, I leave the TV on CNN all day long (NOT soap operas, NOT daytime tv, the news) because it helps me feel less isolated, I feel a lot more connected with the world when I have the news on and I don't find it distracting at all. Isolation can be a big problem if you work from home, this works well for me. 7 years ago