Whether you freelance, run an online business, or just snagged a remote job, you get to enjoy the ultimate freedom of working from home.
But with all this flexibility come certain challenges, such as staying on task and avoiding the distractions of napping and Netflix.
According to Rescue Time working remotely can be far more productive than in-person at an office.
To help you be productive, happy, and sane, we’ve gathered 27 of the best work from home tips. From designing an inspiring home office to optimizing your schedule, this advice will help you succeed in a work-from-home role — and avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and burn-out.
27 Work From Home Tips To Stay Productive And Happy
While ditching the office and working from anywhere might feel like the ultimate luxury, working from home isn’t always easy. Fortunately, you can set yourself up for success by following these work from home tips.
1. Set up a dedicated workspace
While you’ve seen Instagram photos of telecommuters working from bed or a hammock on the beach, this setup doesn’t work so well in reality. Not only is it rough on your posture, but it’s also way too easy to get distracted by your environment.
To stay focused, it’s important to set up a dedicated workspace in your home. Ideally, you’ll have a home office with a door that you can close to shut out distractions. At the very least, set aside a corner of a room for your desk and work materials.
Without your own workspace, you’ll have trouble switching your brain into work mode. So make sure to create space in your home that’s specifically dedicated to doing your job.
2. Optimize your schedule for when you’re most productive
Unless your remote job requires certain hours, you get to design a schedule that works for you. Start by reflecting on your natural rhythms. Think about when you’re most productive and what times of day your energy and attention lags.
Working from home often means that you don’t have to follow the typical 9 to 5 schedule. So whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, make the most of this flexibility by designing a schedule that lets you get more done in less time.
3. Set your alarm in the morning
Even though it might be tempting to sleep in every day, doing so could eat away at your productivity. People are creatures of habit, and establishing routines is a lot more conducive to getting work done than having your schedule change on a daily basis.
Even though you don’t have to show up at an office, setting your alarm and having a morning routine will help your brain get prepped and ready to work.
4. Don’t work in your PJs
Working from home means you never have to put on pants again, right? While that might technically be true, it’s not so conducive to being productive. Lounging around in your pajamas all day can make you feel lazy and eat away at your motivation to get stuff done.
Plus, there’s just a different energy that comes with getting dressed for the day. While you don’t have to put on the business casual outfits you’d wear to an office, changing out of your PJs and into real clothes will put you in the right frame of mind.
5. “Eat that frog”
In his bestselling book Eat That Frog, productivity expert Brian Tracy encourages readers to tackle their most demanding task first thing in the morning, so they can get it out of the way and feel a sense of accomplishment right off the bat.
This phrase comes from a Mark Twain quote: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
When you’re working on your own, you might not feel as accountable to your coworkers or manager as you would in an office. But pushing off unpleasant tasks will only make you fall behind.
So instead of giving in to procrastination, take on your hardest task right at the beginning of the day. “Eat the frog” now so you won’t have to worry about it later.
6. Anticipate (and eliminate) distractions
Another work from home tip to increase efficiency has to do with anticipating distractions. If you know you’ll be tempted to watch the latest episode of your favorite show one day, consider working out of the house so you won’t turn on the TV.
Or if you can’t work in a cluttered space, tidy up the night before so you don’t end up cleaning your apartment when you’re supposed to be working. Think about what your biggest distractions are, and try to set up systems and habits that will eliminate them from your day.
7. Carve out blocks of uninterrupted time
One of the great things about working from home is the freedom to carve out uninterrupted time for yourself. When you’re sitting in an open office space, you can’t control the conversations, meetings, or noise levels in your environment.
But when you work from home, you have the freedom to carve out blocks of time when you can focus without interruptions. Having a chunk of time where you can focus solely on work is especially important if you’re a “maker,” such as a writer or programmer.
If you work with a team, perhaps you can label a few hours in the morning as “Busy Time” on your Google calendar or set an away message on Slack. Maybe you can designate Tuesdays as a “no meeting” day or save conversations with colleagues for the afternoon.
By setting aside blocks of uninterrupted time, you’ll find it much easier to get stuff done.
8. Download an anti-procrastination app
You have a deadline, but all you want to do is Gchat with friends or watch cute dog videos on Reddit. If you’re prone to surfing the web when you should be working, try using an anti-procrastination app.
Apps like AppDetox and BeeMinder will notify you when you’re spending too much time on social media. The Checky app reveals how much time you spend staring at your phone (this can be a serious wake-up call!). And the Focus and Freedom apps and web extensions actually let you block distracting websites while you’re working.
If you find yourself getting lost down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos or Netflix shows, an anti-procrastination app can help you set limits.
9. Try the Pomodoro method of time management
The Pomodoro method is another handy trick for boosting productivity. With this method, you break up your time into 25-minute cycles.
Basically, you choose a single task to focus on intensely and time yourself for 25 minutes. Once that time’s up, you take a three- to five-minute break. Rinse and repeat four times, and then give yourself a longer break of half an hour.
Splitting up your time into concrete work periods will help you focus, and the built-in breaks give your brain a chance to recharge. By experimenting with time management strategies like the Pomodoro method, you can figure out how to optimize your productivity.
10. Unplug at the end of the day
One of the most important work from home tips for remote professionals is to unplug at the end of the day. When you telecommute, it’s all too easy for your work life to bleed into your personal life. Before you know it, you’re answering emails at 11 PM and working 12-hour days.
To prevent overwhelm, set a clear deadline for your workday – and stick to it. When it’s time to log off, close your work apps, stop checking emails, and step away from the computer. If you’re working with a team, make sure to communicate your work hours so they know when you’re online and when you’re done for the day.
Although it might be tempting to keep working into the late hours of the night, this is a surefire way to get burnt out. Having downtime in your life matters!
11. Write to-do lists — and stick to them
Staying organized is another big challenge of working from home, and it’s all too easy to forget tasks. Save yourself the headache by writing to-do lists of all your tasks on a weekly and daily basis.
You might simply keep a running list on a Google doc or have some Post-Its and a pen handy so you can instantly record any new assignments that come your way. By writing them down, you’ll be a lot less likely to forget about an important project or deadline.
12. Use a planner to organize your time
Along with making lists of your assignments, you could also benefit from using a planner. The best planners let you set weekly, monthly, and daily goals.
Plus, you can visualize exactly how you’ll spend your day, perhaps blocking off the morning hours for working on projects and the afternoons for meetings or making calls.
13. Block social media during work hours
Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Facebook when you’re supposed to be working? Social media can steal hours of your time every day if you’re not mindful about how you’re using it.
To reduce the time you spend watching Instagram stories or sending Snapchats, try blocking social media sites during work hours and enjoy the productivity boost that results.
14. Put on focus-boosting music
Some sounds in your environment can be distracting, but others can actually help you focus. Certain types of music have been shown to improve your mood, enhance your creativity, and boost your efficiency.
Check out [email protected] for “scientifically-optimized music” that helps you laser into your work, or throw on your own classical music, nature sounds, or other soundtracks. You might be surprised by how powerful background music can be for your productivity.
15. Set goals for the week or month ahead
When you’re busy with day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds and forget about big-picture goals. So take some time to reflect on your priorities for the week, month, or even year ahead.
Seeing how your daily actions connect to a long-term goal will help you stay on track. Plus, you’ll be more motivated since you’ll see how your everyday tasks connect to a bigger mission.
16. Be proactive about communicating with your team
Another important work from home tip for remote employees is to communicate with your team. Since you’re off on your own, it’s important to make yourself visible within your company.
Hop on Slack, respond to emails, or set up meetings and conversations with your colleagues and manager. Let your team know when you’re available and be proactive about keeping in touch.
17. Establish relationships with your coworkers
Along with opening up lines of communication, you might go out of your way to nurture relationships with your coworkers. Strike up conversations over chat or set up phone calls to catch up.
Not only will you feel a greater sense of belonging with your team, but you’ll also be less likely to feel isolated or lonely working from home.
18. Set boundaries with your friends and family
When you work remotely, your friends and family might think you’re free to hang out all the time. Soon enough, you’ll start getting invitations to go out to lunch or take a beach day (or be asked to walk their dog or babysit their kids).
Make sure the people in your life understand that working from home is still working. Let them know what your work hours are, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries around when you and can’t socialize.
19. Make sure your technology is up to par
There’s nothing more frustrating than a shaky WiFi connection or a freezing computer when you work online from home. If your remote job relies on technology, make sure to get a strong WiFi connection, high-performing computer, and anything else you need to do your job without interruption.
If you’re working for a remote company, you might request that it provides you with the technology you need to do your job well. Some companies offer a new laptop or home office stipend to ensure you have everything you need to succeed.
20. Invest in ergonomic office equipment
Working online can be your ticket to a flexible, location-independent lifestyle, but it can also be disastrous for your posture if you’re not careful. To protect your neck and shoulders, invest in an ergonomic office chair that supports your spine.
If you want to avoid sitting all day, consider getting a standing desk or standing desk attachment. Finally, blue-light blocking glasses can protect your eyes from the harsh light of a screen and help you sleep better at night.
By investing in ergonomic and protective home office equipment, you can enjoy working from home while protecting your health and wellness.
21. Get out of the house sometimes
Even though you can work from home all day every day, it’s really important to get out and about in the world. If you stay cooped up at home, it’s easy to feel bored or unhappy — which is not why you started working from home in the first place.
So make sure to go out, and try switching up your workspace to boost your motivation. Maybe you work from a coffee shop one day and a library the next. Or perhaps you join a coworking space so you can get work done and meet like-minded remote professionals.
You might even take advantage of your remote position to travel to a new city or country. You have the freedom to choose where you work, so make the most of it by exploring new places around you.
22. Chat with other humans throughout the day
Outside of chatting with your coworkers, make an effort to connect with people throughout your day. Remote work can get lonely sometimes, especially if you don’t know other people who work from home.
Even interacting with a cashier at the grocery store or dog parents at the dog park can help you stave off feelings of isolation.
23. Take breaks
It’s so important to take breaks throughout your day and not be glued to your computer for eight hours. Your mind needs time to relax and recharge. So step away from work throughout the day and focus on something else entirely.
Even if you feel like you’re not working, you might be subconsciously sorting through ideas and processing information. After taking a walk or eating lunch, you might be surprised at how much more productive you are when you return to your desk.
24. Make time for exercise
Along with protecting your posture and eyes from all that computer work, it’s also important to make time to exercise. Whether you take walks, hit the gym, or take a mid-day yoga class, your mind and body will benefit from making time to move.
They say sitting is the new smoking, and you don’t want to sacrifice your health when you go remote. Make sure you’re still getting enough physical activity throughout the week.
25. Let yourself take sick days
When you work from home, you might feel like you need to power through and keep working when you’re sick. But work is demanding whether you’re based at home or in an office, and you deserve to take days off to rest and recuperate.
If you fall ill, give yourself permission to take the time you need to recover.
26. Be patient with yourself
Succeeding in a work-from-home role is a skill, and like any skill, it takes time to get the hang of it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re struggling at first. You might need to go through a period of trial and error before you’ve found the best strategies for managing your time and staying productive.
As long as you’re proactive about your schedule and work style, you can find the routines that work best for you.
27. Practice gratitude
As excited as you might have been to land a remote job and say goodbye to your morning commute, no job is perfect. There will likely be days where you struggle to check tasks off your to-do list or feel frustrated or lonely.
To make yourself feel better, remind yourself of all the perks of this lifestyle. And remember that you no longer have to sit through a traffic-filled commute or feel trapped inside an office building. When you’re having an off day, listing what you’re grateful for can flip your bad mood into a good one.
Final Work From Home Tips
While you might have dreamed of working from home for a long time, this arrangement isn’t without its challenges. As with any job, there might be some days where you feel super productive and others when you procrastinate the day away.
But you can find strategies to get organized, manage your time, and increase your productivity. By finding the right routines, you can become even more disciplined, motivated, and self-directed in your work.
And once you develop these good habits, you can enjoy the work-life integration of a remote job without ever having to commute to work or wait out the clock in an office again.
Rebecca Safier is the founder of Remote Bliss, a job board and resource for remote professionals and the companies that hire them. Having worked remotely for the past five years from countries all over the world, she’s passionate about helping people build location-independent careers they love.