9 Ways to Stay Productive (and Sane!) Working from Home


I’ve spent the past year working from home, which has had a lot of obvious benefits; I make my own schedule, I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t want to, I don’t have to drive anywhere, I don’t have to worry about packing a lunch or eating breakfast on the go. However, there are some serious downsides as well, like getting lonely spending so much time cooped up or getting sick and tired of your workspace that you never seem to leave (since it doubles as your home). So here are some things I started doing to stay productive and not totally lose my mind working at the desk in my bedroom day in and day out.

01. ALWAYS get dressed in the morning! I used to consider working in my PJs to be a huge perk of working at home, but after a while it just made me lazy. Getting dressed and putting on makeup helps mark the end of sleep time and the start of productive day time. 

02. Don’t work from the same space you lounge in. When I started working from home, I loved curling up on my bed, propped up with pillows and cozy under the blankets when I was trying to get work done. It was REALLY hard to not be lazy when I was so comfortable and constantly in position for nap (especially since I was usually in pajamas too!). Having a designated workspace, like a desk or table, helps get your mind focused on the task at hand. Plus…why contaminate your lazy places with all that work stress? Leave them for relaxing! 

03. Work out first thing in the morning. It’s easy to drag your feet getting started with your day when you don’t have a boss looming over your shoulder and it’s in the back of your mind that you get to make your own schedule. Make a point of setting an alarm to work out; it’ll get you out of bed, you’ll be energized and showered, and you’ll already have something to check off your to-do list before breakfast. It really sets the tone for the day!

04. Allot yourself good break times. Don’t eat meals in front of your computer. Remember those cozy spots you’re saving for relaxing? Go there to take breaks and really enjoy that down time. You know if you had an office job you’d be dying to get a change of scenery come lunch time…so why not do yourself that favor when you work from home too?

05. Keep your to-do list or planner open next to you. I noticed a big difference in productivity when I stopped looking at the list in the morning and stowing in back in the desk drawer. Having your plan for the day right in front of you constantly helps keep you focused on your goals. We all know it’s so easy to get distracted by the Internet!

06. Find coffee that you really enjoy. Seriously…it makes a big difference. There’s just something that says “productive morning” when you pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew. If you don’t especially love or even like your coffee, it’s nothing to look forward to. I was stuck with a brand that I wasn’t too fond of but I was too lazy to spend time trying out new ones. Let me tell you…that first cup of amazing coffee peps up my mornings and is something that I ENJOY every morning. That old brand was just part of a routine to get me to wake the hell up.

07. Find a motivating playlist that keeps you in the zone and focused on your computer. This might not be for everyone (I know some people prefer to work in silence), but I work so much better when I have music on; without it, I feel like my thoughts float around in all that empty air if that makes sense. However it has to be the RIGHT music, nothing that I’m going to be singing along to or anything. Here are some playlists that I’ve found make me extremely productive:
Indie Electronica on Spotify
xxyyxx on Spotify
The Sound You Need on YouTube
Disney Study Mix on 8tracks (instrumentals from your favorite Disney movies!)
Hans Zimmer and Friends on 8tracks

08. Go outside. I can’t possibly be the only person that goes completely nuts being cooped up indoors day after day. Getting some sun on your skin and fresh air works wonders for a quick and easy midday pick-me-up.

09. Be willing to turn everything off and close up shop at a reasonable hour. When there are a million things to do and you’re working from home, it’s really really easy to keep plugging away long after dinner time. I’m not saying never do that, but definitely save it for emergency situations. You are your own boss…so give yourself some downtime! Any boss that forces employees to work insane overtime hours day in and day out would be a big meanie ;] Having a decent amount of time being “off the clock” will keep you motivated, refreshed, and ready to work when you wake up in the morning.

What do you do to maintain productivity and sanity when working from home?

  • I also had a job where I worked from home and getting ready in the morning definitely helps. I found myself actually not showing sometimes or even getting into decent clothing (doesn't have to be fancy but just even comfy pants and a shirt would do – i just washed my face, brushed my teeth and then went straight to work in my PJs). And breaks! Oh my goodness, I loved working from home because I got max hours to do what I needed to get done but I learned how to pace myself and really take those lunch breaks and regular 15 minute breaks as well and finish at 5 pm.

  • Interesting tip on getting up and getting ready even though you're staying at home; I need to get that a try! I got to school online full time so completing my courses is as close as working at home as it gets. Right now, I have a browser plug in to stop me from wasting time on Facebook and Twitter and I take walks/lunch breaks outside of my home. I don't know how people get any work done while lounging in bed! I instantly fall asleep if I were to bring my laptop into bed with me.

  • Let me know how it works for you! It made such a big difference for me. And omg is the plugin called Self Control?! If so I used that in college!! THE BEST APP EVER!!! And I don't know why I ever tried doing work from bed…so dumb of me haha. It's just impossible for that to work!

  • YES that's a key part of it…it doesn't have to be fancy! You can still be comfy but making the effort to get out of PJs helps so much. And yes yes it's awesome having so much time to get stuff done but I was SERIOUSLY overdoing it and would wake up the next day feeling so tired and worn out. Shutting off at 5/taking breaks is important!

  • I work from time to time at home and definitely agree with all your tips Marla, it is a great post! Specially I find it useful to separate the places between work and lounge, so when I'm also on the computer but for personal purposes I don't have that "work pressure/guilt" feeling. I also find difficult to be more strict with breaks when I'm working from home but eat much healthier (less snacks & more fruit), pros & cons! 🙂