How to Get Work Done at Home

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Home is where the heart is, and increasingly where the office is too. I did a quick Google search to confirm it, and yes, the number of workers working from home is steadily increasing.

For me, it’s all I know. I have been a freelancer since I graduated from college. Every dollar I have ever earned came without the structure, discipline, or typical office environment. I used to have a coworking space, which I found to be very helpful for a time. But once I had a room to designate as a home office, I canceled my membership.

Even though I’ve always worked from home, I still understand the struggle of forcing myself to be productive when there are so many fun things to distract me. I could watch reruns of The Bachelorette, go to fitness classes, walk my dog, cook a meal, or hang out with my husband who also works from home. But with a few little tricks, I manage to keep myself focused and pushing my business forward.

So, based on all my experience working from home, here’s how to make sure you are actually getting things done.

1. Have a Dedicated Space Just for Working

My husband and I each have a room with a door that is just for working. (Some might call this an office.) If I didn’t have a dedicated room, I don’t think I would actually get much done at home.

This room shifts my mentality to work-mode because I know that when I’m in that room, I’m there for one reason and nothing else. Then, when I’m done for the day, I leave that room, close the door, and don’t go back in.

Obviously, not everyone is going to have a spare room to convert into an office. So if you don’t, try to set up a desk, a space, or some type of visual signal that can help you shift into work mode and block out distractions.

2. Set a Time to Clock Out

The biggest complaint I hear from people who work from home is that they work all the time. My response to this is: don’t let yourself!

I aim to “clock out” every day at 6 PM. Most of the time I am pretty good about keeping it.

Here’s the cool part, setting a time to clock out doesn’t mean I will work less. I actually am way more focused throughout the day when I know there is a deadline to meet.  

Think about how you would respond if you had a boss that expected you to be available 24/7. That would be crazy, right?

I talk a lot about how to set boundaries with clients by doing things like not answering emails in the middle of the night. But the other side of that coin is that you have to create these same boundaries for yourself if you ever want to have a healthy work-life balance.  

3. Figure Out When You Do Your Best Work

One of the best things about working from home is how much control you have over your schedule. Use this to your advantage and structure your day in the most productive way for you.

For me, I am more productive early in the morning. When everyone else is sleeping, no one is bothering me and I can get so much done.

There is something peaceful to me about sitting at my computer, drinking coffee, with no emails coming through or phone calls ringing in.

I would much rather wake up at 4 AM to knock out a project than stay up late, so that’s what I do.

Find the time of day that you can really get in the zone and make that a sacred time for working.

4. Work During Normal Business Hours

I honestly think keeping myself busy with work during normal business hours is the key to my success.

Being self-employed for the last nine years, I’ve been asked (so many times) how I stay productive without a boss looking over my shoulder.

I am my own boss, so I made the rule for myself that I work when other people are working. I’m at my computer from about 9 – 6 each day. I’ve never viewed it as having a ton of freedom because I still need to work like everyone else if I want to earn money.

5. Leave the House When You Need to

Working from home all day, then spending my evenings still at home… I can get a little stir crazy.

When I start to feel like I need to get out of the house, I go. But the trick is to go somewhere else you can still do work. I like going to a coffee shop or schedule a coworking day with a friend.

Both working for yourself and working from home are isolating experiences. Being around other people and new work environments are good for creativity. Plus, I will set a goal to finish a task or project before I come home, and that gives me a little extra focus while I’m out.

But again, it all comes down to making sure the scene is set for work and getting to it. I don’t think there’s any “secret” for getting work done at home, it’s just about starting the work and seeing it through.

Rebekah Epstein