Tips for Working from Home (& Staying Productive)

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How to work from home effectively? Your home may be filled with distractions like kids, spouses, laundry and dishes, but these helpful work-from-home tips with keep you staying productive and sane!

I’ve been working from home in some capacity since 2009, which is a long time! Three years of that time I worked in corporate America and for the rest of the time, I’ve worked for myself.

All but the first two years, I’ve had my kids home with me. And it wasn’t until recently that they have both been in school full time. So, if you suddenly find yourself working from home with kids, I have been there!

12 Tips for Working from Home & Staying Productive

In the summers I have to work from home with my whole family at home since my husband is a teacher. So, I’ve really experienced a wide range of scenarios.

It’s a privilege and great blessing to be able to work from home. It means I can be flexible with the needs of my family. And yet it provides some very real challenges, as well.

One can easily be distracted by chores or other home responsibilities, or other family members who are home as well. And these are some of the tips I’ve learned over the years about staying productive while working at home.

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12 Tips for Working at Home & Being Productive

1. Have a Morning Routine.

A good morning routine starts with a bedtime routine. So, start with an early (enough) bedtime, 7-9 hours before you want to get up. Turn off the screens an hour before bedtime and find ways to wind down like a warm bath, hot tea, a good book and essential oils.

Then get up when your alarm goes off. And then plan to do something for yourself before getting the kids ready for the day and sitting down at my desk. I like to do my daily devotions, write in my gratitude journal, drink a cup of coffee and get dressed before my kids get up.

You may be tempted to work long after the family goes to bed and stay up late, then sleep in. But in essence you’re giving your work the fumes of your day. If you will just have a regular bedtime routine and go to bed at an early hour and wake up early, you’ll be giving yourself, and then your work the BEST part of your day with the most energy.

2. Have a Dedicated Work Space (preferably with a door).

If you don’t have a traditional office space in your home, it could be the guest bedroom or a corner of your bedroom. But obviously, it’s preferable to have a space that you don’t have to re-enter after your work is done. Having a separate space for work in your home will help you with being able to separate home life and work life, even though they are happening under the same roof.

In our current house, I have a beautiful home office, which is part of the reason we bought the house in the first place. And I intentionally don’t go in there on the weekends, unless I have planned to work on the weekend. And I don’t go back in there at night after the kids go to bed, unless I absolutely have to!

3. Set Office Hours.

Working from home with kids can be tricky and sometimes needs to be super flexible. But if you can, set work hours for yourself and in turn you will protect your personal time as well. Make a schedule that includes hours set aside to be “off duty” at home and “on duty” at work.

When my kids were little, my office hours were before my kids got up, during nap times and after they went to bed. And now that they are in school, I work while they are in school.

In the summers when my whole family is home, my husband and I sit down and decide what my hours will be so that he knows on the front end that he will have the kids and I won’t be able to help.

4. Time Block.

Time blocking is basically having an organize schedule for what you will accomplish each day. It helps you to see what you have to do and when you have to do it and will keep you on task. I’ve written a whole post with a FREE time blocking printable in this post (scroll to the bottom).

5. Set Your Top 3.

Every night before I “clock out” for the day, I write my top 3 priorities in my daily planner for the following day. That way when I sit down at my desk the next morning, I don’t have to try to remember what I need to do first.

6. Get some Exercise.

It’s important to move at least 20 minutes a day, but I try to shoot for 30 minutes. I currently incorporate my exercise into one of my work breaks. It’s working for me now, but I really would like to exercise first thing in the morning, and then take a quick walk on a break during the day.

Leave the house, if you can, and get some fresh air!

When you just have to walk down the hall to get to your office, it’s important to prioritize moving each and every day. Set a goal to be active at least 30 minutes daily.

7. Make a Point to See People.

As of this writing, we’re supposed to be socially distancing ourselves from others. But any other time, it’s important to get out and see people.

Join a mastermind either in person or on Zoom or Google Hangouts. Go to a gym class. Set aside one day a week to meet a friend for lunch. Otherwise working from home can be very lonely.

8. Do something other than work when you wake up.

I alluded to this when I shared about my morning routine, but I think it’s important to do something for YOU when you first wake up, not work. Write in a journal, paint a picture, meditate, read a book or the Bible, work out or take a walk. The possibilities are endless, but do something for YOU unrelated to your other roles or duties.

9. Find your sweet spot & prioritize work accordingly.

Notice trends in your productivity and do your most important work (your “Top 3”) during your most productive time. Put your phone on silent and turn off notifications during this time so you’re not tempted by distractions.

10. Eat a Real Lunch and Drink Lots of Water.

It’s easy to just dive into work and forget to take care of yourself during the day. You’ll be tempted to “work through lunch.” But make yourself stop for at least 30 minutes and eat real food. I like to stand at my kitchen island to eat lunch because I sit for so much of the rest of my day.

And don’t forget to drink water! I aim for drinking 3 large Yeti tumblers full of water each day.

11. Get Dressed for the Job.

While it may be tempting to live and work in your pajamas, it’s important to feel put together. Some people may advocate for dressing up like you’re going to the office, but I prefer to wear some comfy jeans or nice joggers and a nice sweatshirt or t-shirt. I put on some blush, mascara and lip gloss and I’m ready to tackle my to-do list!

12. Invest in quality headphones.

I have the hardest time concentrating on my work when other people are home and I can hear what they are doing. So, I invested in some AirPods a couple years ago. Best decision ever!

I also have to have headphones in while working if I’m at a coffee shop and there’s other conversations going on around me. I love this “deep focus” playlist on Spotify that I listen to when I need to get work done, but need to drown out ambient noise.

Bonus Tip: Give Yourself Grace.

If you are new to working from home, give yourself grace to do what is best for your mental health. Don’t worry about strictly sticking to a schedule at first.

Try different things and keep what works and throw out what doesn’t. What works for me, may not work for you, and vice versa. Do what needs to get done and go easy on yourself as you learn a new normal!

I hope those tips help you as you find your groove working from home. Do you have any other tips you would share for working at home? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

12 Tips for Working from Home & Staying Productive

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  1. Am I the only one that feels I cannot easily print off things you offer for free printing? There’s always a bunch of “gobledegook” along with your how to’s, making it hard to read. If You offer helpful things, can’t they just print off as a printed sheet? Really enjoy all Your things, but get very frustrated when I can’t get things to print off nice, so I can read and do what You day in Your “how to do it” essays. Thank You.

    1. Thanks for the helpful suggestions, Patti! Maybe I could offer a printable option for the posts so that you can print it off without the ads. I assume the “gobbledegook” is the ads and videos throughout the posts. I have to keep those so that I can pay my bills and keep offering helpful tips. 🙂 Thank you!! Laura

  2. I have been working from home for few years now and I love it. I really needed some tips to make my wfh more productive. The tips you shared about going to bed early and making 3 top priorities for the next day is really helpful. Thank you Laura.

  3. Very helpful post. I’m a teacher suddenly being forced to work from home. I’ve had several 12 hour days lately and I’m burning out fast. I’m hoping as we master this new learning curve, my day will shorten and get easier.

    1. Bless you! My mom is in your same boat as her school has gone completely online and she’s having to learn how to teach online at the same pace. It’s a LOT! MY husband’s school just isn’t doing school, so thankfully he’s able to homeschool our girls while I work. It’s all so much! Hang in there, Melanie! xo, Laura

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