Advice for Effectively Working from Home—From People Who Know

Many of our members are people who run their own business by working from home—bloggers, consultants, artists, you name it. Though some people think working from home sounds like the easiest thing in the world, you people know different. It takes a lot of work! There’s no one looking over your shoulder, making sure you stay on task and produce good results.

We’ve gathered advice from a wide variety of sources to help you make the best of each workday at home. These people work as anything from freelance writers to CEOs—and they know what they’re talking about.

Tell others your work hours

“This is an ongoing issue in my home business life. It’s mainly about how other people make assumptions that because you work from home, you must be available 24/7…. Make them aware that you work regular business hours and direct them to your email if they need to leave a message.” – Dana Fox, blogger

Take breaks

“Every two hours, I take a break from the desk and laptop and get small chores done through the house…. But this is strictly time-bound and I ensure I am back in my favorite executive chair within 20-30 minutes. Why? Because if you take a longer-than-expected break from work, you will end up stretching late into the night, hurrying through several assignments and doing a hack job of a task that could have been completed without any glitches.” – Nilofar Haja, researcher

Become your own IT guy

“If you run into a technical glitch with your computer, you may very well be left to your own devices…. You might be able to find tech support at Apple’s in-store Genius Bar (if you own a Mac) or at Best Buy. If you really do get computer freeze, cut it off at the pass by taking a computer class at a community college or, if you’re a Mac user, at an Apple store in your neighborhood.” – Kerry Hannon, columnist

Pretend you’re not home

“Don’t answer your home phone or door during business hours. That way, I’m never tempted to chat or take time off or slack off in any way, and I remain focused on business.” – Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research & Consulting

Dress up for work

“Since working from home can often blur the lines between work life and non-work life, I remain disciplined and adhere to a routine, following the same beauty and fashion regime as if I were planning to hoof it into the city that day. If I sat around in PJs all day, I would feel like a sloth with no delineation or demarcation between each facet of my life.” – Amy Sciarretto, music journalist

Evaluate how you’re spending your time

“The biggest thing that helped me keep myself accountable was when I started diligently tracking my time and how I was spending my days. I had my friend set up an Excel document for me with all these fancy formulas (though I’m sure there is some app out there that helps you do this) and I started tracking how much time I was spending on client work, business development, my blog, taking breaks, etc. The findings were really telling and have helped me structure my day so I can get the most out of it.” – Rashi Birla, graphic designer

Make sure you’re doing the right thing

“The easiest way to encourage yourself to work is to really like your work. If you survey your home, with all its distractions, snacks and comfortable napping areas, and you decide that the thing you most want to do is your work, you’re probably going to be productive. So do please try to love your work – and I mean in the sense of changing your job to do something you enjoy, not trying to convince yourself that an awful job is actually great.” – Matt Gemmell, software consultant

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