How to Make “Work at Home” Work

Tips on how to make working at home work for you so that you stay productive

Working from home has been an interesting experience for me, and one that I truly enjoy. Since I have my daughter at home with me, I feel very lucky to have been able to freelance as a writer for the last few years and bring in some money. It’s been ideal, really, to stay at home, earn an income, and build up my writing skills and resume. However, working at home does present some challenges, especially if you have a family in the house. I couldn’t have made this work at home situation work for so long if it weren’t for these few tips that I’ve picked up along the way.

Have a Designated Work Space

For the longest time, I would do my writing while sitting on the couch or bed with my laptop. Sure, it sounds comfortable enough at first, but eventually it became really uncomfortable!

Not only was my posture suffering from sitting and slouching for hours on end, but I also found it harder to avoid distractions and get into “work mode” until it was really crunch time.

I finally got myself a very inexpensive writing desk from Target and set up a little work space in our bedroom. It has done wonders for my productivity, as well as my posture. Now I can sit properly and get into the zone while writing. If you can carve out a corner of a room to set up a table or desk, you’ll probably find it more comfortable than the couch or bed. You may be in the comfort of your own home, but you are still working 🙂

Resist Distractions

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself checking my email and scrolling through Facebook far more often than necessary during the day.  It’s become almost a subconscious habit at this point.

If you have trouble staying focused, give yourself set breaks. For example, you can say to yourself, “once I finish this assignment, I’ll check my mail for 5 minutes”.  Hold yourself to a timed break. Set the timer on your phone so that you work for 30 minutes, break for 10. Find a system that works for you. If you really struggle with it, consider adding an extension to your web browser that will block you from specific sites at certain times of the day.

Fuel Up

I can’t start my day without a cup of coffee, but sometimes I try to skip breakfast out of laziness. This is definitely a mistake, as I find my energy and attention start dwindling after an hour or two.

You would think that being at home means you would be more inclined to snack, but sometimes I just don’t want to take the time to eat.  I make it a point to stop and eat something. Hunger is definitely distracting, so it’s much better to fuel up before starting an assignment. Keep some snack bars on your desk so that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing when hunger hits.

Have a Cut-Off Time

When you’re freelancing at home, you basically get to make up your own work schedule. This can be both a good and a bad thing.

Since your income depends solely on your own amount of hustling and output, it can be tempting to just work, work, work, and search for more work in the meantime. It’s great to be motivated, but don’t let it be at the expense of your personal life. I could sit on my laptop day and night, seeking new opportunities, but there has to come a time to put it all aside.

I now cut myself off in the evenings, usually right before dinner time. I need to spend that quality time with my family. Once my daughter is in bed, I may work on a few more things, but typically the laptop stays shut.

The trick to making work at home work is to treat it like a regular job, minus the commute to the office. Get up, have breakfast, and settle into your designated work space. Take breaks when you need to, but set up a timer so that you stay productive.

So what about you- have you worked at home?  Share your tips below!

04 comments on “How to Make “Work at Home” Work

  • Michael@Save-Invest-Grow , Direct link to comment

    Your idea about a designated work space is key I think. For me, I will get too distracted if I try to work in front of the TV or somewhere else. I haven’t worked from home full-time before, but I can see that it has its own set of challenges. Like anything, it seems best to have a good plan and stick to it to stay productive! Nice post!

    • Lauren May , Direct link to comment

      Thanks, Michael. The tv can be such a productivity killer- especially these days when I’m caught up in the Olympics coverage!

  • Jon @ Our Fine Adventure , Direct link to comment

    For me, whenever I try to work at home, it seems like the distractions are always the hardest thing. I like your idea of set breaks, it seems like that could help a lot!

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