Staying On Track When You’re Working From Home

Home Businesses

I work from home. Every day I wake up, take a shower, and get dressed in the same way that I would if I were going to an office, but the reality is that I then wander over to my home office, put on a cup of coffee, and sit in front of the computer for a bit as I read the morning editions of several online newspapers. I am the poster child internet entrepreneur, and some days I really hate my job.

Making the transition from working offline to working online has been the most trying and challenging thing I’ve ever tried to do. It’s not all butterflies, honey-cake, and sleeping in. It’s work, hard work, and I’ve had my fair share of it. However, I don’t think I’d run back to an office if my life depended on it- I’ve simply grown too accustomed to the freedom and flexibility that working at home offers. It’s as if I’ve been spoiled with it, and now I’m never going to let it go.

One of the main things that I needed to get used to when I started working from home was staying on track with what I was doing. Too often I found myself surfing the internet, playing with my cat, and running errands when I should have been working. It took me a while, but I figured out how to stay focused:

  • Get rid of all distractions
  • This includes the TV, video games, and any computer games or time wasters that you may have installed on your computer. When you’re at your desk, work. Leave the desk if you want to play or focus on other things.

  • Have a dedicated work area
  • Using the same space that you use for casual activities is more likely to cause you to lose focus. When you’re in your work area, work. Eventually you will simply associate your work area as a place where you conduct business.

  • Set a schedule
  • Work around a schedule that you set for yourself. This will allow you to judge how effectively you are using your time and will also provide a way for you to evaluate your overall performance. Remember, just because you work at home doesn’t mean that you no longer have expectations and deadlines to meet.

  • Come dressed for work
  • A suit and tie may be a bit much, but definitely approach your workstation dressed and prepared to work. This will help keep your mind in the right place and give your day a better start.

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14 thoughts on “Staying On Track When You’re Working From Home

  1. Good tips. I’ve also have found there is a large difference in my productivity and professionalism when I’m cleaned up and ‘dressed for success.’
    It’s especially critical if I’m going to be having a conference call. Don’t know why, but it always feels like the other people on the call can just see that I’m not pulled together if I’m not

    1. Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. When I’m dressed, even if it’s just a pair of nice jeans and a collared shirt, I tend to work harder, stay focused longer, and concentrate on my daily objectives.

  2. Definitely agree that you have to take a professional mindset when it comes to working from home. For the past 3 years, I’ve managed to have a full-time online business, but it’s just like you say…it’s NOT always fun.
    It seems like when you’re at home, it becomes easy to get distracted.
    Lately, I’ve played around with dividing my tasks into Non-Internet/Internet. For the ones that DON’T require an Internet connection, I grab my laptop and leave the house. Then I’ll go somewhere (park, Starbucks, library) and use a lack of Internet connectivity to do work with NO distractions. It seems to make a HUGE difference.
    ~Scott

    1. That’s a really great idea Scott! I should start incorporating that into my routine- I bet I’d get twice as much work done!

  3. I find that working from home allows me a lot of freedom, but if I’m dressed like a bum I’m not getting any work done. It’s a catch-22: you start working at home so you can work in your underwear, but you notice that you never get anything done.
    You never win.

  4. Great tips! I must be in the minority here though- I prefer to be in the most comfortable clothes- which usually means something I wouldn’t go out in public in, haha!

    1. I started following Scott’s no internet idea when I work and I’m getting things done twice as fast! Hooray!

  5. Numbers 1 and 4, but especially #1. That means closing emails apps and even switching off the phone for a few hours as well

  6. They always say to seperate work from home.. so if you’re working at home, you need to create the metal seperation somehow.. since you can’t physically..
    just my 2 cents

  7. I agree as well. It is too easy to lay down for a nap if I am still in my t-shirt and sweats.

  8. I think it depends on the person. I cant concentrate in what I’m doing if it’s too quiet. Also, I need to stand for a while, play or do other things when the creative juices in me dries out.
    Well I guess it’s just me who needs to be “distracted” to be able to do what I need to do.

  9. the last one “Come dressed for work”
    usually i dress what i want, from being towel to shorts + barebodied. haha
    overall good time there

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    As we near the end of 2007, it’s time to start making those goals for yourself and your business for 2008. After studying all the entrepreneurs I have come into contact with over the past year, both at StartupNation and in my marketing/webdev bus…

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