How to Work From Home (and Still Get Things Done)

Whether it's an occasional event or your routine, working from home can be tricky. Lines blur, and it's easy to feel as if you're on both clocks 24/7. Austin, Texas-based career expert Holly Reisem Hanna offers strategies. 

woman-working-from-home
Photo by Juzant/Getty Images

1. Go toward the light. Work where you feel most energized. Typically this will be in the room with the most natural light and the nicest view, says Hanna, who tends to work in her kitchen for these very reasons. Some spots feel stagnant, and “you want to be in a space that gives you positive energy and flow,” she says. Pinpoint your peak productivity times, then schedule high-energy periods for the bigger challenges.



2. Think like an I.T. person. There’s no summoning John from the 14th floor when your computer goes on the fritz, so bookmark troubleshooting pages and post numbers to call for complicated fixes. While you’re at it, set up your own supply closet—a shelf for chargers, paper, toner—so you’re not running around the house like a madwoman every time you need a Post-it. If you can, swap your desktop for a laptop, which you can tuck in a drawer when you’re off duty. This helps you say buh-bye to the workday.

3. Walk off the job.
A daily stroll gets you out of your bunny slippers and in a better state of mind. Designate a set time so you’ll be more likely to stick to the routine. Consider a Fitbit bracelet, which can be programmed to vibrate and remind you to get moving. It will track your steps, so you’ll be inspired to walk a little more each day. Afraid the boss will need you midstroll? Move files to cloud-based storage, like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Mozy, and you can access info on the go via your smartphone.

4. Step away from the Swiffer.
If you’re tempted to throw in a load of laundry when you should be filling out TPS reports, work for 25 minutes, then allow for five-minute housework breaks. This way, you can set a timer to tackle some chores, then get back to work. Along the same lines, treat doctor visits and other appointments as if you were in the office: Go first thing in the morning or at the end of the day.