In my last post I asked my readers for tips to help me be more productive as an at home worker. They responded with a boatload of tips–thanks all! I also did quite a bit of online surfing and reading to see what I could turn up. I found some great stuff.

So, I thought it’d be a good idea to summarize what I’ve learned in the last few days.

h3. Tips for working from home

* Start out with something easy, fun or interesting. This helps you build momentum throughout the day.
* Stick to a schedule. Treat your days like a “regular” work day. Many people have found that a 9-5 or 10-6 schedule really helps keep them on track and productive.
* Separate your “work” area from your “living” area. This includes your phone and computer. If you’re a gamer, you should use a separate computer, or maybe a separate alias. Or hit up the Xbox like me!
* Get out and about as often as you can. Take a walk, go outside, meet people for lunch–that kind of thing.
* Work on networking. Since you probably don’t have coworkers, it’s good to get to know people who are doing the same things as you so you can socialize a bit, etc.
* Reward yourself when you’ve done something significant.
* Get dressed everyday. Don’t wear pajamas all day. It’ll make you feel less work-like.
* Set, and stick to, deadlines. Even when you don’t need them.
* Take breaks. Get away from the computer and don’t work through lunch. I’ve noticed this can be hard already. I’m beginning to force myself up and about every hour or so.
* Keep your weekends. Working from home shouldn’t change the work/life balance you’ve got. Well, unless it lets you do more “life”! ;0)
* Limit distractions. Keep your work area clear from things that might get you off track. Guess I need to move the PSP…
* Have a plan and goals for what you want to accomplish each week.
* Request feedback from clients and other folks you work with on a regular basis. This can help you identify shortcomings and keep you motivated to keep improving your skills, etc.

One thing I noticed is that using a system like David Allen’s Getting Things Done really prepares you to be productive in many situations, including working from home. For me, I’ve gotten so much accomplished this week–my first week working from home–it’s amazing. AND I’ve had more free time. I don’t think I’d have done half as much had I not had my systems in place and been able to adapt them.

Thanks again to everyone who sent me tips and who commented with their own lessons learned. While not all of it is helpful to me now, I expect that at some point I’ll be referring back to this post for guidance.

21 Comments on How To Be Productive Working From Home

  1. Max says:

    To help with the “take frequent breaks,” I highly recommend the freeware app “Break-o-Mat” which you can find at

    It sits in your system tray and reminds you with a popup every X minutes that it’s time for a break. Not ready to break? Click Cancel and it snoozes for a user-configurable amount of time. Ready for the break? Click OK and it brings up a user-configurable image and pops up a “break is over” dialog after a user-configurable time. Good stuff!

  2. How to be Productive Working From Home

    Here is a great post at To-Done! Working to Live. It contains a great list of tips for working from home. Start out with something easy, fun or interesting. This helps you build momentum throughout the day. Stick to a

  3. RouXx says:

    Thank you ufor this article, I work at home, and it’s true, sometimes it’s very hard to separate work and life !

  4. Matthew Margolis says:

    Great list of tips! I have a somewhat specific piece of advice for those working from home in the software business or another incremental development oriented industry.

    Set bogus deadlines via email with your boss or client. The productivity trick here is that you tell them feature x will be done by 3:00 tomorrow knowing full well that you could have it done by 5:00 today. No you are not doing this to get extra hours, the boss and client are aware of the added time. You are doing this so that you lock yourself into a deadline that you know that you can meet. This relieves the pressure and lets you challenge yourself to get feature x done today without all the stress a looming deadline introduces.

    As stated above you should make your clients fully aware that you are giving a bogus estimate and that barring any weird mishaps you plan on being done before then. I introduce this idea when I first start working with a new client and explain that I will usually be done way before my estimate. So far I have had several clients tell me that this is a great idea and no one has objected to it. In an industry where delays are an accepted and expected occurrence it is hard to object when you are consistently delivering the product ahead of schedule.

  5. Get dressed every day. I hear that one.

    I like to start out the day by making a list of concrete accomplishments I’d like to get done. And if I finish that list, I call it a day, which is a good motivator to actually work on it. If I’m productive enough during the day, I can “get off work” an hour or so early. Of course, this isn’t recommended during tight deadlines, but if I do it realistically enough, the deadlines are met naturally without any last-minute rushing (assuming I’m working with a good client, and lately I’ve been blessed).

  6. Tom McKay says:

    Great post, Keith. As a self-employee freelance copywriter (marketing communications) for the past 4-1/2 years, I hope you’ll enjoy working at home as much as I do.

    You’re the productivity expert, of course, but may I add a couple of suggestions? These have worked pretty well for me.

    First, a suggestion: Kiss a frog every morning. I.e., do your LEAST desirable task first. Whatever you dread, do it first (assuming it’s a priority, of course). That way it’s out of the way and not lurking over your shoulder, distracting you.

    Second, a observation: Don’t be surprised if, like me, you find you’ve finished your work early, like 1 or 2 pm. (Shhhh!) Personally, it freaked me out when I first became self- employed. I couldn’t believe how much more productive I was (am) working at home. (Fewer distractions.) It’s one of the great perks! (Better coffee and nicer office, too!)

    You’re right — deadlines are crucial. That’s why I put each one right next to that item on my to-do list. When your entire income depends on doing the right things at the right time, you want to be careful about deadlines! Someone once said that a goal without a deadline is just a nice thought…

    Anyway, I’ll probably blog about your post on my brand-new blog (which has no trackback mechanism, unfortunately). My blog focuses on how improving your writing and speaking skills can help you achieve what you want in business — and in life. I’d love your thoughts and feedback, Keith.

    PS: Nice job filling in for Gina at LH last week! Big shoes (not literally) to fill.

    Tom McKay
    BBC: Better Business Communications

  7. Life Hut says:

    Sunday LinkFest #1

    The first set of LinkFest postings. Enjoy.

  8. Dustin says:

    Hey all,
    I find this all to be great advice. It’s extremely helpful learning the ins and outs of being productive at home from others much more experienced than myself. I have been working at home part-time to supplement income earned at a full-time internship (ok, you pegged me – i’m a student).
    I too did a bunch of research into tips and strategies to maximize productivity and stay focused on delivering work on time. I have to say that using the techniques above worked very well for me the first few weeks. I found that at times I would slip into an unproductive mode and not take full advantage of planning and being deadline driven.
    If you find yourself having bummer times the advice I have is to bring it back to the basics. I check back into the websites I found had the best advice and rethink what was working for me and what wasn’t. By periodically taking stock I am able to work through the funk I’m in. Works everytime.
    Keep fighting the good fight.

  9. Lifehacks

    Los blogs tienen un nuevo gnero, bueno no tan nuevo pero que ya est bastante extendido, el de los trucos, consejos, tips o how-to -palabras que tanto funcionan posicionndose en Google- para ser feliz. En el trabajo, en el estudio, con los hijos, la …

  10. inforedesign says:

    как продуктивно работать дома

    Начните с чего-нибудь простого, веселого или интересного. Это настроит вас на работу.
    Придерживайтесь расписания. Рассматривайте день к…

  11. George says:

    A couple more tips :

    Do not let yourself to be destructed; turn off TV, turn off you cell phone (if possible)
    If you have a dimmer, set the light to be soft and pleasant.
    If you have an AC and it can be used at the time, turn it on. Heat and cold are not good partners.

    A great write in all.

  12. Working From Home

    Since most of my job is currently done this way, I was quite interested, a few days ago, when Keith Robinson from To-Done posted his compiled list of things to do to be productive working from home. Sure, it can appear like the ideal way of working, a…

  13. Being productive while working at home…

    Being it that I work from home, I am always trying to find ways to be productive. I can’t say that I have the BEST work environment ever or atleast to my standards but I make due. If I could I would have a seperate room (perhaps location, an of…

  14. Marston says:

    I also find waking up early helps me, also to jump start the day with some exercise; a slight job perhaps. Gets my blood and body warmed up and gives me to think about and structure my day.

    Thanks for the great tips!

  15. How To Be Productive Working From Home

    Friend Tyrone ( sent me this link:
    How To Be Productive Working From Home from To-Done. Great stuff in there – I’ll try to elaborate on how I deal with some of those points in upcoming posts.

  16. Fariba says:

    I’m looking for a job that covers my emotionally and also give more money

  17. zairi mhamed says:

    I would like to start to work at home but i would like to know about this kind of jobs. I am moroccan student, Ba degree in English literature. i would like a help.

  18. Sheri Ables says:

    No matter how bleak things may seem, keep on working. Not everyone has a big dollar day, everyday. No matter what your role or business type continue putting all you have into it. You will see the fruits of your labor!

    A wise quote: Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting!

  19. Enzo Chiu says:

    Hi all,

    I’ve been working from home for 3 years now. I think the biggest problem is how to keep your motivation alive. Many people heard about “how easy to make money from home” and then misunderstand it (just like I did). They think that by working from home they can easily be the next millionaires. When finally this never happened, they get upset and give up.

    I have some advice:
    1. Working from home is not as easy as you think. It’s not different from your daily job; the difference is just where you work. You still have to manage your own schedules, maintain your clients, and handle many troubles with your clients. Yes, it’s hard.

    2. By working from home you will become the next millionaires. I agree with it. As long as you know what to do. But trust me, it’s not as easy as you think. I have tried it for the last 3 years and still unsuccesfull.

    Please realize these two things before you make your decision.

    Enzo Chiu
    Freelance programmer and web developer

  20. HGH says:

    Great site. Always keep on working.

  21. Working from home gives you such a sense of freedom. We have to break that servitude mentality and stop trading our time for money and making others wealthy.


Leave a Reply