How to Successfully Work from Home

This is a topic that I could talk about for hours. There are so many distractions when you are working, especially if you work from home. The laundry is piling up, the dishes need to be done, the dog needs to be let outside, and of course the television is constantly calling your name.

How do you combat these constant disturbances?


Here are few tips:

1. Establish a space in your home that is solely for your business. This could be as dedicated as a whole room, or as small as a tiny nook. It doesn’t matter what the size, as long as its large enough for you to get your work done, and you feel comfortable working there routinely. For example, I have set up my office on the far side of our bedroom (that’s my workspace above). This might be impractical for some, but I actually love it. We really don’t use the space at all, except for sleeping, so I get a lot of great work done because its basically “my own”.

2. Set ground rules. Establishing a boundary during “work hours” with family members may sound silly. But, trust me; it’s necessary. This means letting family and friends know that you’re not available to “chat” during your work hours on the phone or in person, unless its lunchtime. And if you have children or a spouse at home while you are working, set boundaries with them as well. “Sweetie, I’d love to play with you, but mommy’s at work right now. I’ll come get you when I am finished, and then we can play.” I know this may be a hard one to follow, especially if your children are small, but do the best you can.

3. Make a list and set a schedule. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to do’s, making a list can really help. And if you have reoccurring tasks, creating a schedule for yourself would really be beneficial. Studies show that your brain is in its most efficient state when you first wake up in the morning. So, you may want to think about doing your most important or creative tasks right when you wake up, and save emails and blog posts for later in the day. Those “mindless” activities like filling out shipping labels, might be best left until the afternoon. But everyone is different. So figure out what works best for you, and take it from there.

4. Make the most of it. When you are feeling especially motivated, make the most of that time. Get a jump start on those orders that aren’t due for another month, write and schedule some blog posts in advance, or organize your supplies now so you can work more efficiently later.

5. Get out. If you’re feeling cramped or uninspired and can take your show on the road, than do that! Get out of your house and find somewhere else to work for the day. This could be some place like the library, a small cafe, a quiet park, or even as close as your own backyard. When you eliminate the distractions of home, by removing your self from said home every once in a while, it can be a HUGE motivator.

What are your tips for successfully working from home?

17 comments | Click here to reply

These are so great! My number one tip: don’t even turn on the TV. It’s so tempting, especially if you’re doing something repetitive (e.g., knitting, shipping, stamping). My productivity increased 10-fold when I stopped with TV or movies during the day. (Podcasts, audiobooks and music are good replacements – so grateful for my ipod!)

Brenda

Great tip Brenda. I absolutely agree. TV is a life-suck for me. So, I very rarely watch any television until at least 7pm. Podcasts are my favorite alternative. I’ve been catching up on quite a few from the CraftyPod lately (which is a great resource for anyone whose interested): http://www.craftypod.com/category/podcast/

papernstitch

These are great tips! I once saw in a magazine, that you could set up your office in a spair closet. My room has two closets, one of which I only use for storing junk {I’m such a pack rat}, so I think I might set up in there.

Also, get any drink or snack you might want before you even sit down. Try to avoid getting up for a snack, because it turns into a good excuse to stop working. If you don’t give yourself any good excuses to stop, you’ll be shamed into staying put. 🙂

JGM

Thanks for this! I’d like to add that you limit how much time you spend online. I could spend hours in the morning drinking coffee and reading blogs, looking through shops and try to get away with it by calling it research. Now I limit myself to an hour in the morning and it’s made a huge difference in my productivity!

Luisa

wow. so neat to hear different work techniques from ppl’s comments. =)

i’m kinda the opposite with the TV; i actually like having it on. but the one rule i always stick to is that i can’t watch anything i haven’t seen before. so that way, the tv is on purely for background noise (otherwise i wont work at all). i have to admit, once in a while i’ll glance up to watch a climatic scene, but otherwise i’ll usually listen to the conversations as i chuck away.

and on days when i REALLY need to concentrate on work, then music is my alternative.

p.s. brittni, your biz articles are quickly becoming my favorite online reads. they’re not long-winded like most other biz articles i come across. they’re concise and to the point. just what i need. please keep them coming. =)

linda

Such great tips!!

AND, how I LOVE your little nook!

Ash

JGM- I actually used a spare closet as a workspace in college and it worked great. So I’d definitely recommend trying it out if space is limited. Luisa- setting boundaries is hugely important to productivity. Great tip! And Linda- Firstly, thank you so much! 🙂 So glad you are enjoying these articles. And I like the idea of using the tv as background noise, if it works for you. For me, I just can’t fully concentrate without silence. So, when I am writing I can’t have any noises…but when I am doing more “mindless” activities, I listen to podcasts, like I mentioned before. Music is a great tool for inspiration as well.

papernstitch

Thank you Ash!

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I am just entering the world of ‘working at home,’ so I’m really loving these tidbits of advice. Thanks for the post. 🙂

Lindsay Jewell

my biggest obstacle right now is family – my toddler starts preschool in less than a month, so that should improve!
after that, i would say i spend too much time online – reading blogs mostly. i’ll find something great, say on the papernstitch blog, follow it to the shop, the owner’s blog, facebook, twitter…..
i’m hoping that next month i’ll be able to set more of a M-F schedule – i’ll let you know 🙂

alexandra keller

My pleasure Lindsay. And Alexandra, I have a hard time pulling myself away from blog reading sometimes as well. Its tough, but at least we’re not alone, right? 🙂

papernstitch

been working at home since 2003 doing medical transcription. i have a specific room designated as my office. there is no tv in that room, radio is off. i do my best work in the morning. i take a break at noon and make my phone calls then. i had to stress to neighborhood moms not to list me as the person to call when their kid was sick at school nor can i pick them up after school.

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Something that works for me is telling myself that I cannot touch my email and other internet related stuff for the first 2 hours of my work day. You really do get so much more creative work done that way. If I get caught up online even if I tell myself it will only be for 5 mins, it will wind up being 5 hours. And then to not feel guilty about it, I’ll say that it was all for research, as Luisa said 🙂

And as others have mentioned creating a defined well-organized space for your work no matter how small and setting work hours is “crucial”.

Oh and btw Brittni, I really liked the Track This! workbook. Congrats on that and on your blog- I always find something interesting to read here.

Tabassum

Great tip! I do that sometimes too (not checking email for the first few hours of work- it helps a lot). 🙂

And thank you for your kind words about Track This! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed it. Take care!

Brittni

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