A Guide To Working From Home Successfully

Written by Jane Wardle on January 29, 2019

Updated March 10, 2022


Working from home is arguably considered to be on the major benefits of being a freelancer, a business owner or a sole trader but unfortunately for some, certain problems arise from being given the freedom to operate in your own home.

Finding motivation and being productive can definitely be tough when you’re working in a less rigid, structured environment so giving yourself the best chance for success by ensuring the following things could make your working from home experience an incredibly positive one.

Try not to get distracted

This is obviously a lot easier said than done, but at the end of the day, whether you’re working for yourself or you’re employed by someone else, working from home is exactly that – work. Ensuring that you remain on task can be especially difficult. Especially if you have the comforts of being in your house while you work.

It takes serious willpower to stop yourself from getting up to make another cup of tea, stare longingly into the fridge for the 5th time or browse through Twitter. It can be incredibly difficult unless you remain tough on yourself and avoid procrastinating. There are a number of productivity apps out there that encourage you to stay focused. What’s more, there are apps available that can block certain sites on your web browser too. Ideal if you’re known to mindlessly turn to that web page before you’ve even realised you’ve done so.

When working at the office, the amount of time you’re allowed to take for breaks- whether that be lunch breaks or toilet and cigarette breaks are monitored, scrutinised and, if you take too many, frowned upon by senior leadership. The same mentality should be used when working from home. Treat working from home as an office position and your productivity will increase. Make your lunch in the morning before you settle down to work, prepare snacks and drinks during your designated break time and if you do need to get a snack at some point during the day, stay energised by selecting something healthy, like fruit or a handful of nuts.

Work away from the house if possible and create a good working environment

Some work needs to be done distraction-free, and often such solace cannot be found within the home. Being able to distinguish between your home and your working environment is essential in the sense that you need to be able to differentiate between where you work and where you relax.

Whilst it’s fair to appreciate that not everyone has an outdoor space where they can set up their working environment, such as an outhouse or an adapted garage, finding a space within your home away from the hustle and bustle of family life could be the difference between productive, effective work and work that lacks the quality it requires.

Work should be done in a quiet, secluded area where you are able to truly focus on the task at hand – just as would be the case if you were working from the office.

Limit the amount of time you spend away from your desk – procrastination can hit at any time and allowing yourself to be distracted by household chores and activities won’t benefit your working day. By blurring your work life and home life, you are making yourself more prone to further distraction and what might seem like an innocent ‘quick tidy’ of the kitchen could end up in hours of cumulative wasted time.

Structure your day as you would in the office

Working from home has the same deadlines and the same expectations from your superiors as would be the case if you were working in the office. If you would normally work through a particular number of tasks within a period of a few hours, make sure you match this working from home.

Make lists and prioritise tasks based on their importance, manage your time effectively, so you’re not eating into your own personal time attempting to finish things off and take short breaks as a method of refocusing your mind when you inevitably start to feel distracted. Some freelancers, renowned for working at home, would recommend dressing for work as if you were going into the office as it gives you the professional feeling of being at work.

Because there won’t be anyone pestering you during the day, set yourself goals and expectations and stick to them. Slacking off might seem like a good idea at the time but will do you absolutely no favours further down the line when you’re chasing your tail attempting to catch up. Give yourself some time during the day to reflect on the tasks you have completed and the ones you are still to complete- how can you achieve the maximum possible and what lengths do you need reach to do so? Working from home can still have its risks and it’s important you are adequately insured against risks working while from home.

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