Five on Design  |  Episode 30  |  April 17, 2018

How to be productive while working from home

For many, the idea of working from home sounds great. Being able to wake up when you want. Not having to worry about a commute. Being able to eat in your own kitchen. There’s a lot of benefits to it.

But what many, including myself quickly realize is that pretty soon you find yourself not being as productive as you thought you’d be.

So here’s some tips I’ve learned for working from home and how they helped me become a little more productive. All while still enjoying the benefits of being able to work in my pajamas.

Schedule and structure your day

It’s very easy to wander by your office and not work, or have erratic working hours. Schedule your day and stick to it! Being able to show up from nine to five helps keep you accountable and your projects on track. It also allows you to separate work from home life.

A work schedule also helps you be more predictable with your clients. Clients love to know when — and when they can’t — contact you.

It’s easy to fall into a trap of working until 3am and responding to emails at that time. But remember: responding to emails at 3am may make a client think it’s okay to contact you at that time. If that’s not what you want, then don’t allow it to happen in the first place.

Have a purposeful place to do work

I live in a house, so this is pretty easy. I have a spare bedroom that functions as my office. When I was freelancing, it was easy to close the door at the end of the day and leave work.” It was my way of commuting home for the day.

If you keep your things out and strewn in your place wherever you live, it can be very easy to dive into work when you should be spending your time doing other things. It also helps prevent burn out — because you give yourself that time to step away from what you’re doing. Part of being productive means turning off of work periodically and giving yourself permission to do other things.

Leave work at work

This kind of goes hand in hand with setting a schedule and a structure to your day. When you’re done with your work day, be done with it. For me, that meant that work didn’t happen after 5pm. After that, my focus was on my family, taking care of my dogs or making supper.

Being able to switch from work” mode to home” mode is a big deal and a mental shift that you need to make. Typically, you would have done this with a commute, but working from home doesn’t allow you that.

Get dressed

Everyone jokes that working from home means you can wear your pajamas. Every once in a while, that’s fine!

But more often than not, you should get ready for the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re meeting with anyone or not. Taking care of yourself is even more important when you work from home. Showering, brushing your teeth and getting dressed is the opposite mental shift you need to get ready” for work.

By taking control of your day, you’ll feel more productive and you might notice an uptick in your work. Working from home can be a great experience as long as you allow it to be — but remember that even good things need boundaries!