How Do You Stay Productive Working from Home?

What does your home office look like?

What does your home office look like?

I started working part-time from home in 2003 and full-time from home in 2006. Although I’ve been someone else’s employee for the last 5 years of that, I still use all of the same techniques for staying focused and productive as an employee that I used as a freelancer.  Here are a couple of my favorite tips for productivity when you work from home:

  • Have a designated workspace and keep it holy — Mommy’s desk is not for crafting, storage, kid snacks, or other non-work tasks.
  • Have a designated phone line and keep it holy — work calls only on the work phone, whether cell or land line.
  • Set and enforce regular working hours; limit “flexibility” to true emergencies. That means keeping work time for work (no mid-day errands or runs to the gym!) and keep personal time for personal (do not check your work email during dinner) unless you specifically plan set times to mix work and home.
  • Get fully dressed every day (casual clothing and slippers acceptable); use regular video-conferencing in place of phone calls to fight the temptation to hang out in jammies all day.
  • Create accountability by establishing interim deadlines for projects, and schedule voice or video check-ins with others about those deadlines.
  • Go beyond email to reinforce human connections. Meet regularly with supervisors, project managers, and colleagues, whether by phone or by videoconference.It’s easier to stay focused and engaged when you feel a connection to the people you work with.
  • Use productivity and organizational tools like OneNote, Todoist, and my Outlook calendar to keep track of deadlines, corral project information, and track progress through various tasks and subtasks.
  • Create a workspace that supports what makes sense for your brain. I’m a piler, not a filer, so I have a lot of flat surfaces in my small home office where I can drop materials related to specific tasks or projects and keep everything organized. I also use lighting that energizes me and decor that motivates me to help me stay on task.
  • Take advantage of working remotely by taking meaningful breaks to recharge. My favorite breaks are short bursts of exercise, like turning on my music and busting out a quick Zumba routine or grabbing my iPad to work through a brief yoga sequence using my favorite app. Whenever I get bored or distracted, these breaks help me get back on track.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay productive while working from home? Do you have a unique take on one of my suggestions? Leave a comment!


10 comments… add one
  • Vernon Apr 11, 2015

    I’ve also worked from home for both myself and for a company. Distractions are certainly the biggest challenge.

    I do gym, eat lunch out, do errands and fetch my kids from school in the middle of the day. When I started that I found my energy levels were much better in that he afternoon.

    The important thing is that it is scheduled.

    • Kristen King Apr 15, 2015

      Scheduling things that could turn into distractions is a great tip for giving yourself breaks without getting off track. Good idea!

  • Aleksandra Apr 14, 2015

    Creating a productive workspace is indeed very important. I used to work in a co-office but that didn’t really work out well. I love being able to organize the area around me the way I want to, and I couldn’t do that in an office.

    • Kristen King Apr 15, 2015

      Absolutely. It’s so helpful to be able to personalize your workspace and set it up to work for YOU.

  • Damaria Senne May 8, 2015

    I need a clearly defined space where I write. I can make do and work off the dining -room table when I have to, but my own space, preferrably a room, works best for me. I’ve also found I need visual reminders to bring order to my constantly churning brain.

    So I have a chalkboard wall and notice board and a hardcopy diary in addition to my Google calendar that’s synced to multiple devises. And no, for me, that’s not too many diaries, LOL. There is a certain logic to it… I don’t duplicate entries across devices.

    I think I need the visual reminder so I KNOW the stuff from my head is written somewhere, so I can relax and focus on the writing.

    I also get fully dressed everyday. I know some people are fine not doing that (working in your PJs can be a perk afterall). I don’t keep 9-5 though. My freelancing perk is that I can manage my schedule – spend hours working in my garden because I enjoy it/need to clean the cobwebs, cook because I have plenty of produce, or run errands because knowing it’s done is one less thing that’s niggling my brain when I should be writing.

  • Lori Aug 14, 2015

    Great list. I can’t even imagine not getting dressed in the morning. I don’t quite feel ready in pajamas, you know?

    Creating that ideal work space is essential in my opinion. I made one change in this study — I moved my desk from facing the wall to facing the center of the room. That one move has made me feel much more productive and creative. Then again, I was staring at builder’s-grade flat eggshell paint — who wouldn’t have their senses dulled by that?

  • Ali Nov 4, 2015


    I’ve recently been doing what I call a Green Break. It energises me and helps to keep me going:

    But I must confess that i work very well first thing in the morning in my pyjamas and on the bed!

  • Ralph Quito Aug 29, 2017

    Another great read thanks to you Kristen King! I am always amazed at how you are able to write and make your readers feel that they are just talking to a friend. Keep writing please!

  • Ralph Quito Dec 4, 2017

    Perfect fit for someone like me who’s fascination is reading blogs. I can mostly relate. Keep sending them please!

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