Tips for Working from Home Effectively

By Richard Asa and Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 19, 2023
Tips for Working from Home Effectively

While working from home has benefits, it can also have drawbacks. Discipline and planning are the keys to happily working at home and performing at your best.

Anyone who works alone as a freelancer or telecommuter can tell you about the advantages and disadvantages. 

The advantages are easy to list:

  • No commute
  • More flexibility with at-home chores
  • Privacy for phone calls
  • Stretching and exercise breaks

Ideally, your home work space will be quiet with natural light. Depending on the situation, you may have freedom to work in comfortable clothing and take naps.


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Working from home pros and cons

When you tell people that you work alone at home, many say, “I could never do that.” If they work outside an office, they’re sure they would be lonely or get distracted and lack the discipline to perform well.

Those concerns are true for some people. You can easily find yourself sleeping in, working in your pajamas, following an erratic schedule, and talking out loud to no one in particular. 

All the while, you might not get much work done. 

To remain productive, coherent, and do your best work, you need to stick to at least some of the habits you had in an office job. But you can fine-tune them and make yourself a better worker.

Tips for working from home effectively  

  • Ideally, you don’t always need to be on call to suit other people’s schedules.
  • Think about your ideal routine. Then stick to it.
  • You might want to sleep later, but you should stick to your new wake time even on weekends. You’ll sleep better.
  • Decide when and how you will exercise.
  • Observe which are your most productive hours of the day and spend them working. For many people, that’s the morning. Forbes contributor Paul Tassi gets up every day at 7:30 a.m. 

“By forcing myself into this schedule, I’ve found that, over the years, my most productive time during the day has been from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.,” he says in Forbes. “After breakfast, my mind is sharper. It’s early in the day, so I’m motivated to work harder, faster, and more efficiently in the hopes of finishing up the day early.”

If you don’t keep a regular schedule, you’ll be less healthy and might lose entire workdays to chores or fighting sleepiness.

Shower, shave, brush your hair, and be ready for any video calls, wearing clothes your boss or clients can see. That may seem counterintuitive, since casual dress is a perk of working from home. But even if you won’t be on video calls, that ground rule helps keep the lines around work time clear.

As fashion psychologist Karen Pine told Forbes, “A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”

A shirt and tie might make you feel more focused. Maybe you’re thrilled to never wear a tie again. Just be sure you can take a business video call or attend a meeting without a lot of preparation.

Having a dedicated office space is a good idea. It gives you somewhere to go and separates your sleep space from your workspace. If there’s one way to assuredly get nothing done, try working in bed.

Take advantage of freedom from cubicles. You’re in luck if you can work in a spot with natural light, which will help with your mood and sleep. Open your space up as much as possible. Let in sunlight, face your desk toward a window, and open windows when weather allows.

It also helps to get outside during the day. Especially if you have night-owl tendencies, you need your daily dose of sun.

If you’re at a computer, stand up and stretch every half hour. That’s also true if you are hunched over a laptop in a coffee shop.

When you’re alone and enjoy your work, you might find yourself getting lost in it for hours. You’ll be productive, true. But get up. Sitting for many hours with no breaks is terrible for your health. It’s a top cause of blood clots, for example.

Although regular exercise helps, that time doesn’t entirely overcome the bad effects of sitting. Aim to sit fewer than eight hours a day (with breaks within those hours) and exercise at least 150 minutes a week. That’s easier to do without a commute.

An at-home schedule also may give you more flexibility to engage in leisure activities that don’t involve sitting, such as gardening or cooking.

Walk to the store if you can.

You may be a workaholic or under external pressure to work too much. You may fret that you lack work-life balance. Working at home probably won’t overcome that situation, but it can help.

Tips for staying at the top of your game

When you think about how to allocate your time, remember that any task will fill the time you allow. Be specific and realistic about when and how you will complete a task.

Think about the kind of help you need. You may want to establish a relationship with a computer tech or anyone with the kind of expertise you regularly drew upon at an office job.

Was there someone who kept you up on industry gossip? The person who told you about new software in your field? You still need to talk with them. Don’t be shy about reaching out.

You also need social interaction. You might find that you do better with people around in a café. Establish a routine. Try to make it happen every Tuesday rather than random days. You’re more likely to make a friend.

Working from home doesn’t need to be isolating. Find people with time during your workday and establish a rhythm of texting, emailing, phone calls, or even having coffee in person.

You can reach out to other freelancers connected to your employer — the same people you’d be seeing in person in an office. Your conversations can be about work or not, so long as they connect you to the outside world.

You still need to network — even more than you did when you had built-in interactions at an office. Go to meetings and other functions that relate to your line of work.

Working on your own doesn’t give you the luxury of forgetting discipline. It requires more. 

But don’t forget to take a vacation. 


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October 19, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN