Entrepreneurship · Mobile Productivity

Tips for being more productive working from home?

Sadie Gilmore Senior Software Engineer at Torque

November 22nd, 2015

Early entrepreneur working out of my home in the developmental stages of my startup but have had much trouble being very productive but cannot afford a spot in a shared space yet. From others experience, what are others tips/recommendations on how to make my office space at home more productive?

Richard Sachen CEO/Founder Sunspeed Enterprises

November 22nd, 2015

It helps me to have a separate work space.  For me, that's a spare bedroom that I use as a home office where I can close the door and be at work.  Even just a desk in the corner that is marked off for work helps.  You can keep home distractions away and focus on business in that space.

Gabor Nagy Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics

November 22nd, 2015

There are some great suggestions here. Different things work for different people and it greatly depends of the kind of work.

I've been working from home since 2013 and I kind of have the opposite problem (my projects are so exciting that I can't stop working until I drop dead and I have to force myself to get out of the house and get some fresh air...), but some things I found helpful are:

If you do creative work, distractions could actually be a productivity-booster.
Doing laundry or some yard work, or even going grocery shopping are great to keep my creative "sparks" going.
I actually solve most of the difficult engineering problems when I'm not sitting in front of the computer and my mind can wander freely.

A strict routine and fixed working hours would actually reduce my productivity and motivation.

It's also nice to be out and about and have some human contact, other than my family.
Unlike in an office, you don't have coworkers around you, so It's easy to get isolated if you don't make yourself leave the house every day!

What works for me is to collect those solutions in my head and try to only sit down at the computer when I'm ready to implement them.
This does two things:
- it keeps me excited and motivated about the work
- it reduces the time I waste Web surfing etc., because I always have a concrete task to focus on

If your work is more routine, then a work / reward system could be helpful:
- Set goals to be achieved, not a number of hours to work! E.g.: finish the first 10 pages of my presentation.
- Give yourself a "reward" when achieving a goal. E.g. I can go out for a 15-minute walk, once it's done.
- While you're out for a walk, you can start thinking about the next 10 pages of the presentation...
Also, remember that you are saving 30-minutes to 2 hours, by not commuting!
So, don't feel bad, if you "wasted" 15 minutes, going for a walk!
The energy you get from the exercise will pay dividends...

Brent Hultman Business and Leadership Coach/Consultant at Pursuits Coaching and Wellness Network

November 22nd, 2015

Aaron Glinski offered some great suggestions.  I would add scheduling "office hours" and only work on your business during this time.  It can be tempting to run a load of laundry or to mix household and personal tasks in to your work day when you work from home.  Work like you're miles away from that stuff.  A lot of home office people have to get out of the house and have people around them.  That's one reason there are so many people camped out on laptops at coffee shops.  I live in an apartment so I'll just go to my clubhouse and jump on wi-fi from there. 

León Lassovsky

November 23rd, 2015

Things that helped me out:
 - keeping perfect order + no rest-of-the-house things in my workspace.
 - waking up early,and getting started right away (from 6am) boosted my productivity
 - having 2 or 3 walks a day. If you stay for over 5 months working from home you´ll feel like you never leave work, having these walks gives you a different perspective of almost everything that happens.
- Not entering my workspace if I´m not working.

Hope this helps

Candice Hughes, PhD, MBA

November 22nd, 2015

I recommend having a separate room for your home office. That is critical for keeping organized and maintaining quiet. Set up a basic business type desk and chair (I prefer ergonomic chairs). Have a least one computer if not two (gives you a spare if main one goes down). Plus at least one printer. A good headset is key for conference calls. I have a separate phone line as well so I always know it's a business call when that phone rings plus I can maintain an outgoing business message when I can't answer the line.

If you have children, they should not be in your office when you're working. Hire a nanny or babysitter if they are young. Teach them your office is off limits from a young age. If they're older, same rules. They don't enter the office and put up a sign and let them know when you need deep quiet for important phone calls.

Robb Vaules Western Region Marketing Director

November 23rd, 2015

Library!  I have a home office, but I find that if I schedule time in my local library it helps keep me productive.  My library has turned into a co-working space for a number of us.  

Anton Chuvakin Research Vice President at Gartner

November 23rd, 2015

I've been working from home for a good number of years, so some of what works for me is listed below:

- definitely set hours - prevent work from *eating* all your time (due to exciting project) AND prevent [too many] home tasks during workday to get to WIN

- definitely a set work area i.e. home OFFICE / room

- periodic "work from Starbucks, etc for 1-3 hours" breaks add to inspiration

- make sure to meet actual "human people" :-) for lunch, coffee on top of work phone meetings  -- otherwise you grew sociopathic :-)

This is what I can think of...

John O'Duinn Founder. Author. Adviser and mentor at geo-distributed organizations

November 22nd, 2015

hi Sadie; I present at Haas (and various companies) on exactly this topic. An important part of this is a) physical setup and b) routine/schedule. If this is your first exposure to "working remotely", after being in a structured environment, you're going through a big mental gear change right now. So it likely feels unsettling. As someone who is "working remotely" since Feb2015, and has been managing distributed work-from-home teams for 10+ years, the change is disruptive, but once you get a routine going, I find this *more* productive then working in an office which has its own distractions. So, for me with my startup, I tried and decided *against* paying for a coworking space. You are correct that mental and social sanity is important. Setting up how you work correctly will help you be more productive then you've been - setting this up "wrong" will make you unfocused, lonely, demoralised and unmotivated. Good for you to ask about it. The slides from my last presentation at Haas cover all this as well as other related items - have a look at http://oduinn.com/blog/2015/06/28/we-are-all-remoties-jun2015-edition/ and see if they help. Happy to chat offline if you have questions. John. =====

Kelliane Lam Founder at Time To Go Social and Kelliane Parker Farmers Insurance Agency

November 22nd, 2015

I have been working from home for decades. What works for me is using a planner and scheduling my time. I never turn on music. 

Eric Broek Co-founder of Mutinerie and Copass

November 23rd, 2015

All tips people have given here are much valuable. I would add that if working from home impacts your productivity and happiness too much, you should still consider a coworking space. Not moving forward cost you a LOT of money. Way more than what you could spend in a coworking membership.

In addition, depending on your business, those shared office space can bring you some substantial by becoming customers, sharing insights, connecting you to the right people... You don't need to take a full time membership. Most of the time, working from home is OK as long as it's not everyday. I figured out that 1 to 2 days per week working from home and the rest from coworking spaces works well for me. You can definitely check out Copass that can give you flexible access to 500+ coworking spaces worldwide. (disclaimer: I cofounded the platform, but because I needed it ;) ). 

Good luck!