If you work from home you’re likely to hear something like “I wish I could work from home, it would be so nice” or words to that effect from others. But many don’t realize the challenges of working from home, thinking it’s an easy thing to pull off and that it’s all fun.

On the surface most simply see the benefit of not having to commute or get dressed into work attire daily. What’s often not considered is the level of discipline and dedication required to work from home and actually get things done.

You see, the home is loaded with all of your creature comforts and things that are not conducive to actually working. It’s loaded with distractions like that HDTV and your favorite recliner, pool table, awesome sound system, all of which are designed for comfort and relaxation.

So how do you avoid being drawn into these areas and spending time doing things other than being productively working?

Let’s go through the list below.

Establish a Dedicated Work Area

You need a personal workspace, designed for just that, working. If there is a room available to make as your office, do it. Convert a bedroom or basement storage area if you must, but without a dedicated workspace the battle is pretty much already lost.

When you have a home office two things happen right away.

1. You have established that you are serious about working.

2. You have escaped most of the distractions of working from home.

Now don’t turn around and load the workspace with an HDTV and audio system unless you know you have the discipline to leave them off during peak working hours.

Establish Regular Working Hours

It is very important to establish a set of hours that you are regularly working. It’s called working from home, not working when you feel like it. The only thing that has really changed is the location. Whether working for an employer or yourself, take your business matters serious and work a regular schedule.

Inform Your Family and Friends

When you work for XYZ Company your family and friends know your schedule. They have a good idea of when you are not available for socializing and general chit-chat. The same applies when working from home. It’s one of the main reasons for establishing regular work hours, the other being that you want to actually get things done, right?

If you fail to do this the perception will be that you work totally at your leisure, therefore they can call upon you anytime.

Forget That Working in PJs Crap!

You hear a lot of work-from-homers talk about working in their PJs or, well let’s stick with the PJs. Forget about that. Get dressed and get serious.

Psychologically speaking, I feel more like work if I have some clothes on; otherwise my mind is confused thinking it may be time to stretch out again.

Your results may vary!

Create Slots of Time for Phone Activity

When others know that you work from home it is pretty much expected that you can talk on the phone anytime, and it’s true. However, it may not be wise to do so if you have something you really need to concentrate on and move closer to completion.

Hey, don’t tell my friends, shhh!

I don’t take calls during certain times, and no I won’t disclose what those times are. Rather, concentrate on your work for several hours, then catch up on a few calls, and then get back to your project.

Seriously, it’s best to avoid continual interruptions all throughout the day. That’s what they do in the corporate environment, which is one reason you want to work from home. :-)

Avoid the Internet

If what you are working on does not require you to be logged onto the internet then don’t log onto the internet, it’s a distraction. One of those sites like CNN or MSNBC will have an auto-reload and drag your eyes right up to the page headline. 15 or 20 minutes later you’ll return to work (maybe). See what I mean?

On the other hand, if what you are working on requires you to be online open only what is related to your project, nothing more.

Music

Find your zone on this one. What I mean by that is some of you are more productive with music playing while others find it a distraction. Personally, I’m all over the place on this one, sometimes it’s good while other times I crank out more work in silence. Decide what’s best for you and stick with it.

Love Thy Neighbor

Inevitably your neighbors will find out that you work from home and will find their way to your door. Greet them nicely; give them the butter or coffee that they always seem to be out of, but kindly mention that you’re “in the middle of a hot project with a deadline approaching”. This sends them on their way quickly and causes them to think about whether to ring the bell or go to the store next time. :-)

I love my neighbors (most of them anyhow) but I’m seriously building something special and need to stay on-track.  I’m sure you love your neighbors as well.

Huh? Oh yeah, we all have one of those types. Love em anyhow, just keep them at bay.

Be Sure to Take Regular Breaks

Much like in the corporate office, you should take some regular breaks throughout the day. Just don’t take them when the neighbor comes by.

I like to work for about 2 or 3 hours then take a 20 to 30 minute break. You should find your comfort zone on this. Just keep in mind that it is really important to get up and stretch, move around, even get out of the office and come back after a break.

It’s sort of like recharging the batteries.

Don’t Eat in Your Workspace

Getting the proper nourishment during the day is important, but so is getting away from that project you’re working on. You may be surprised at how refreshing and energizing it is to completely leave the work environment, have a real lunch (or dinner) break and return fired up and ready to roll for a few more hours.

Stay Disciplined

Once you’ve established a regular routine for working from home remain true to what you are doing. It becomes a habit and increases your discipline for not only this, but other things in life as well.

When you start breaking your routine and making exceptions for this and that it begins to work against you after a period of time. The exceptions will become the new habit instead of the tightly focused routine you’ve worked so hard to create.

Conclusion

I didn’t mention it above but we all know that none of this will work on any given day. Hey, life happens right? Emergencies occur and what have you. But for the majority of the time, stay in-charge.

Working from home can be a really wonderful thing to do, but you have to actually produce and get things done. Otherwise it becomes frustrating because you can feel that you haven’t made the progress that you know you should have.

Remember, you chose to work from home so you must control the environment. If you can master this, you’ll be very productive as you move that much closer to creating the lifestyle you seek.

So how about you, how would or are you staying productive in your work at home? Share a few thoughts in the comments below.

Stay Productive!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Did you like this post? <> Please Share it:

24 Responses to How to Stay Productive While Working From Home

  1. Max Bronson says:

    Hey Jimi,

    I find staying disciplined by far the biggest challenge of working from home. I also found that working in normal clothes as opposed to just ones underwear (I don’t wear pajamas) is better.

    Also, it can be a little lonely at time working from home during the day. I find every now and then I feel the need to go around to the local cafe here and just be surrounded by people. I enjoy having some form of interaction with people face to face sometimes.
    Max Bronson´s last blog post ..How To Increase The Effectiveness Of Your Multi-vitamin Tablet

    • Jimi Jones says:

      I’ve been working in a quiet office environment for so long now, really no trouble at all staying focused. What I’ve laid out here in this post is my method of madness. LOL

      I do think about hitting a cafe occasionally but seldom do. Need to do a little more of that, makes for a nice getaway. Usually when I want a change of scenery I grab the laptop and go to another part of the house. :-)

      The main thing is that people determine what best works for them and stay with it.
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..7 Ways to Create Enthusiasm

  2. Hi Jimi

    I like the working at home, not working when you feel like it quote lol Have found that it is a temptation and need discipline not to get distracted.

    Getting better with that as time goes on. Also have some blogging buddies who churn out so much work they are an inspiration to me. Also keep me accountable, which is great for my business :-)

    Patricia Perth Australia
    Patricia@lavender-oil´s last blog post ..The Lovely Lavender’s Smelling Sweet…Unlike Athlete’s Foot!

  3. This is good stuff Jimi, though I have to admit that I violate a bunch of them, and have for the almost 10 years I’ve been in business.

    Specifically, I have to say I don’t really have specific working hours. I do plan my daily schedule of things to do and attack, but then I’m still working late into the evening, although at that time I also mix in my “play time” a little bit.

    I don’t work in PJs because I don’t have any, but there are many days where it’s late in the afternoon before I think of putting on any clothes, which makes it a good thing we don’t have kids and my wife doesn’t care one way or another.

    I can’t avoid the internet because, well, my life is the internet. I do make sure not to concentrate too much on the things that take away from the projects I’m working on, though.

    I’m working on the taking breaks part where it doesn’t mean taking naps. I end up taking naps when I eat the wrong things, consequences of being diabetic and not always eating the proper foods in the afternoon. But on days when I do eat properly, I also need to try to get away from the computer here and there.

    As for eating in my workspace… nope, that one’s never going to change, but that’s actually an old family habit where we never ate meals together except for holidays so I’ve always eaten in the space I happen to inhabit, which is mainly sitting here at my computer. It also probably explains why my wife and I go out to eat often, so we can see each other. lol
    Mitch Mitchell´s last blog post ..Post 1-000!!! And A Video To Boot!

    • Jimi Jones says:

      Hey Mitch!

      Sounds like you’re pretty much set in your ways, man. But after a decade, it’s working for you. So long as you’re getting your stuff done, and you would not have lasted this long if you weren’t, that’s what really matters. :-)

      I don’t do PJs either. Never liked them. Taking off clothing to put on clothing to go to bed, not!

      As for the internet, I love to be online all of the time, but there are times when I’ll stay off until I get a particular task completed. I’ll get caught up and 2 hours later, I still haven’t started what I set out to do. :-)

      I never eat in my workspace, gives me a good excuse to break away for a few. Plus I’ve always had this thing about food and drinks around my equipment.

      Like 2 teenagers, my wife and I still have date night. LOL
      It’s great time to unwind and shake off the dust from the week.
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..Life Lessons—The Best Self-Reflections From 108 Bloggers

  4. Tons of great points Jimi. I’ve been working from home for the better part of 11 years and find that the dedicated work area is the biggest productivity booster. And yes that Internet is truly a distraction.

    My daughter isn’t going to school right now so having the working time that the family knows about is gold.

    Self-management is a huge issue when working from home, and if you’re self-disciplined it’s easy to be super productive. For those used to working the 9-5 the office hours can help tons as it’s what they’re used to.
    Robert Dempsey´s last blog post ..A Leap Of Faith That Brought A Metric-Ton Of Traffic

  5. Russ says:

    Good tips. Your first one is your best one… establishing a workspace. This is my biggest weakness.. I find myself using the laptop on the couch while the TV is on… talk about killing your concentration and productivity… I think after reading this i will make sure i dedicate my time more effectively and see how it goes.. which includes turning off the television..
    Russ´s last blog post ..How much is P90X

    • Jimi Jones says:

      Hi Russ.

      Good move and great recognition on your part. I once tried exactly what you are doing and found that it was just not an effective way of doing either one of them. I think you’ll quickly get used to doing one or the other but not both together.

      It’s always work first for me. :-)

      But just think, someday after you’ll have those online systems built out and running like you want them to, which provides a little more time for entertainment.

      As for now, I’m still building like crazy.
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..7 Ways to Create Enthusiasm

  6. Hi Jimi!

    Love your article. We’re trying really hard to be disciplined. It hasn’t been consistent though because we don’t have our own home and we live with other people. Therefore, there has been a lot of responsibilities and obligations that tend to push us away from being disciplined. Be it housework or helping the other people in the house, even if we’ve already set the time to work, it would be rude not to chip in.

    Nevertheless, we’ve been trying to find ways to counter this and putting in as much work as possible whenever there are no distractions around. For example, starting really early in the morning when everyone is at work or school.

    Thanks for your tips!

    Tariq and Shaheera
    Tariq and Shaheera´s last blog post ..Weight and It’s Impact On Personal Development

    • Jimi Jones says:

      Hello Tariq and Shaheera.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Being highly disciplined can be difficult at times, due to the many things that life presents us with daily. I don’t need to tell you all that, we all can surely relate. But what’s important to keep in mind is that we have to strive for consistency at every opportunity. As we do so, things will become a habit at some point in time and although we will stilll miss the mark occassionally, we’ll see more success than usual.

      I wish you well on your life’s journey, and know that whatever your long-term goals are, keep them in the fore of your thoughts and take some sort of action to move closer to them each day.

      All the best! :-)
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..How to Find Fulfillment in Life

  7. Well, I sometimes enjoy the working in Pj’s thing. But I agree, it can help you to feel more “professional”

    Al of the other points I agree with wholeheartedly.

    It is important to regiment your day. Avoiding the internet, creating time slots. Basically…. avoid and circumvent distractions long before they occur.

    There are many good points about working from home, but there are also tons of pitfalls and ways to accomplish very little that must be rigorously addressed.
    Steve@Internet Lifestyle´s last blog post ..Why Most “Internet Lifestyle” Gurus Suck

    • Jimi Jones says:

      Hi Steve.

      Avoiding the pitfalls of home, that’s the name of the game for sure. :-)

      I really enjoy the freedom of working from home, although I tend to spend a ton of time in the office. But it’s the only way to build a system that will make life easier later. It’s also motivating when you love what you are doing.
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..7 Ways to Create Enthusiasm

  8. Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech says:

    Jimi, Thank you for these great tips. I began working at home in February and have been slowly learning some of these tips on my own. I wish I had read your blog two months ago!

    I really appreciate your advice to take a break every so often. I felt guilty taking a break, fearing that I would become distracted and not get back to work. You made me realize that if I were in an office environment, I would be taking breaks so I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking breaks at home.

    As the summer approaches, I increasingly worry about working from home with my three off of school for summer break. Any suggestions (other than eight weeks of sleep away camp)?
    Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech´s last blog post ..Tech-Knowledgy- Your Questions Answered! 4-1-11

    • Jimi Jones says:

      Hi Carolyn.

      Oh, so you’re finding out just how cushy it is, huh? LOL
      No need to feel guilty about taking breaks, they’re a must. Get up, stretch, change the scenery for a bit.

      Like many others, you’ll likely come to work more than you realize once you settle into your routine.

      As far as the kids and summer break, I would try (notice I said try) to carve out a good 2 or 3 core hours each day with minimal interruption. That could be tough, depending on their ages and needs, but well worth establishing if you can.

      Wishing you all the best with your home office routine. I’m sure you’ll be in the groove soon enough. :-)

      Thanks for visiting!
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..How to Find Fulfillment in Life

  9. Hi Jimi,

    It’s so nice to go through your article. All the points play a vital role in order to be productive while working from home. It’s really important for anyone to put up a wall from those socializing sites even if we are working on some project over the internet. I often do this by signing off from those sites or messengers. It enhances the seriousness required to finish up any project on time.

    Anyway it is really great to have this kind of article. I will really make out things as much as I can according to your valuable tips.
    Samantha Dermot´s last blog post ..Symptoms Of Teeth Grinding

    • Jimi Jones says:

      Hello Samantha.

      Thank you for the kind words, I’m so happy you like the article. :-)
      Having learned most of these tips the hard way, I can clearly state that there is no better teacher than experience.

      I can recall a day some years ago where I spent about 6 or 7 hours at the computer attempting to write a few articles, ending up with zilch. What a waste of time I thought. I had allowed myself to get distracted and did everything but what I sat out to accomplish. :-) That was a huge lesson for me.

      Thanks for coming by and I hope to see you again sometime soon.
      Jimi Jones´s last blog post ..How to Be Disciplined When It Comes to Finances

  10. Mohammed says:

    Great tips! But the funniest thing happened! I was just working on my computer earlier when i stopped to read this article. And i just suddenly realized the following: i had food on my desk, i was in my PJs, i had 10 browser tabs opened (one of which was CNN!!).
    Discipline is hard to achieve without falling into routine, and that’s what drove me crazy back when i had a corporate job.
    Mohammed´s last blog post ..Common Symptoms of Mange in Dogs

  11. Joshua says:

    The absence of a work friendly environment ruins the work schedule of many individuals working from home, and hence deadlines are never met. And its not just for enterpreneurs, it applies for freelancers and VAs also.
    Joshua´s last blog post ..Why Choose Plumbing as a Career

  12. I think that the main task of people working from home is to let their relatives know that they are involved in work process and do their work, but not just relax and spend time with a pleasure.
    Terje Sannarnes´s last blog post ..How Social Networks Can Change the Life on an Online Entrepreneur

  13. Hello i am working from home since 2008 and in all this time I learned that if you stay focus and work responsible in time your work will be rewarded , just be patience .

  14. jin says:

    Great post Jimi, you got all things that help me to stay productive at work. Except from that I also use a tool that helps me manage my time and I use to schedule my tasks. Using this tool it tracks time accurately on different tasks. I also use it to set an estimated time when working on tasks and breaks. I usually take a break every two hours of work that helps me to relax a bit and refresh mind. I would say that time management is really hard without the help of self discipline. Discipline is the key to follow scheduled tasks and finish it on time. It can also help to ignore distractions while working. I would say that with the right online tools and discipline I can stay productive at work.

Leave a Reply