For twenty years I worked in an office.  When not in an office I worked while commuting from courtroom to meeting room to boardroom to airport to hotel . . .you get the picture.  Then I stopped working in an office and opened a retail bakery.  Then I switched to a home office, which is where I spend most of my days now.    Working from home is VERY different than working in either an office, from the road or in a shop.  There's just no structure.  I can see how easy it would be to fail in this environment.  So many people covet working from home but--- it's not as ideal as you would think when it comes to being productive.  I had difficulty getting used to it and then I realized I had to get set up for success, just as my structured office of the past.  Here's what's works for me:  1.  Set up a good place to work  It's important to have a "work space".  I call mine my "home office".  When I first started working from home I used what was available.  I used the couch, the dining room table, the kitchen table and the desk in my bedroom.  At the time, I was personally in transition and thus, my "office" was in transition.  I didn't own the "working from home".  Rather, I owned a shop and worked at home some days, or I practiced law but was just working from home temporarily until I could find an office, etc.    For a long time I was unproductive because I felt "less than".  Did I even have a real job if I worked from home?  My husband and I created a running joke:  once he asked me what I was doing and I responded "Bonbons and Netflix".  That became code for "working from home" and that was the perception---that people working from home weren't really "working".  AND THEN, I BURNED THE BOAT.   I realized that working for myself was the only way I was going to be happy.  I committed to a future---to working from home and my home office, or anywhere in the world I wanted to work.  I went all in.  When I did that, I "officially" set up an office.  I claimed the unused den as mine, I cleaned it out, I set up my works space and it became my official office.  Let me tell you, the effect that shift in mindset had on me was astronomical.  Now I don't care if the perception is "Bonbons and Netflix" because I LOVE where I work and what I am doing.  I have an official space.  I own my day.  Keep reading and find out more.  2.  Set up a Schedule  When you work a job where you have to go to an office or a shop or a factory or a place:  you have a schedule.  A schedule sets you up for success.  It's no different when you work from home.  Everyday I get up at the same time when my alarm goes off.  When I first started working from home, I didn't keep a schedule because I just worked until I got my work done.  Often I was working at 2 am and I would sleep until 7 am.  Looking back on it I realized that I was not set up for success.  While that may not be wrong for some people, I have a family and I realized that my work schedule needed to mimic the parts of my old schedule that worked for us.  Plus, I was happier and healthier with my old office schedule.  I clearly wasn't getting enough sleep, and even if I went back to sleep after the kids left for the day, I wan't effectively using my alone hours.    So I changed my pattern.  I set up a schedule whereby I go to sleep at 11 pm and wake up at 6 am.  At first, it was really difficult because I am a night owl.  Now I love my schedule because I am highly productive:  I get into my home office at 8 am and I leave it somewhere between 3 and 5 pm.   There are days that I do errands, go to the gym, meet clients, go to the shop, go to a meeting, take the kids to appointments, etc.  But my "office" hours are more structured and I'm not working in the middle of the night.  I may still do emails from the couch from time to time or take calls on the patio---but having a "work" schedule equates to productivity for me.  3.  Eliminate Distractions  To increase your productivity if you work from home, you need to eliminate distractions.  I just follow a  practice I had in an office setting that worked for me.  I NEVER turn the TV on during the day.  I have set times I look at social media.  I schedule calls between 8 and 3 when nobody else is home.   When I first started working from home, Social Media was my biggest time killer.  We've all been there---you start scrolling through your feed and bam!  It's suddenly two hours later and you've gotten nothing done.  When I recognized that time zapper I set a New Year's goal to reduce my social media usage and keep a schedule for it.  That has created a huge shift in my productivity.  Because I work from home I have to keep my cell phone nearby so it does take willpower to not check my social media accounts.  However, I allow myself to make a post for marketing reasons during the day or to do some research---no social scrolling.  I'm a happier person since the change!    4.  Eat balanced meals  In a structured work setting you often have a lunch ---whether that's a sack lunch or eating out.  When you work from home you don't officially have "lunch", unless you're meeting clients or friends for a luncheon.  For some people, like me, that meant I could eat whatever, whenever.  So I would sit and do a little work, get up and stroll to the kitchen and eat a little. . .do some more work, get up again and get some more food. . .and so it went.  It's a time killer and while smaller more frequent meals can be a good thing, I was just snacking a lot.    So I got rid of constant snacking by eating more balanced meals.  I eat breakfast before going into my office and take a break to fix lunch.  I also keep a box of multigrain crackers on my desk and some granola bars in my drawers to prevent using "getting a snack" as distraction.    5.  Set Daily Goals  We work from home for a variety of reasons and one of them is freedom.  This means if you want to paint your family room on a Tuesday in the middle of the day, then by all means do it.  If you want to do the laundry then run to the grocery store---do that too.    That being said, you still "work".  Sometimes our tasks of daily living can cloud over the fact that we still have a job even if we're home.    My family takes advantage of the fact that I work from home.  "Mom, I forgot my P.E. clothes, can you bring them to school?"  "Honey, I scheduled the HVAC guy to come at 1 pm on Wednesday."  "Can you take the dogs to the vet at 10?"    IT DRIVES ME CRAZY SOMETIMES.    I don't know what they would do without me, and I am blessed and thankful to be here for us.      However, all these family errands and things around the house are sometimes a time killer.  It's like they think it's all "Netflix and Bonbons" and not something professional going down here.  I realized that I need to set daily goals to keep on track.  That helps me know how to balance out the errands and chores.  If I have an errand in the middle of the day but I haven't yet finished my goals, I know I may have to work after dinner.  I put together my list, balance it with my professional appointments and personal errands and stay on track for the day.  It's not any different than when I worked in an office.  If there's a day I don't have a big list, then running all the little errands or doing chores is a piece of cake.  If my list is huge, I set limits by saying "sorry, I can't do that today because I'm busy."  Nearly everything can be rescheduled (except the urgent runs to school).    I hope these tips have helped you.  If you work from home, let me know your own tips!  
Working from home_.jpg

For twenty years I worked in an office.  When not in an office I worked while commuting from courtroom to meeting room to boardroom to airport to hotel . . .you get the picture.  Then I stopped working in an office and opened a retail bakery.  Then I switched to a home office, which is where I spend most of my days now.  

Working from home is VERY different than working in either an office, from the road or in a shop.  There's just no structure.  I can see how easy it would be to fail in this environment.  So many people covet working from home but--- it's not as ideal as you would think when it comes to being productive.  I had difficulty getting used to it and then I realized I had to get set up for success, just as my structured office of the past.  Here's what's works for me:

1.  Set up a good place to work

It's important to have a "work space".  I call mine my "home office".  When I first started working from home I used what was available.  I used the couch, the dining room table, the kitchen table and the desk in my bedroom.  At the time, I was personally in transition and thus, my "office" was in transition.  I didn't own the "working from home".  Rather, I owned a shop and worked at home some days, or I practiced law but was just working from home temporarily until I could find an office, etc.  

For a long time I was unproductive because I felt "less than".  Did I even have a real job if I worked from home?  My husband and I created a running joke:  once he asked me what I was doing and I responded "Bonbons and Netflix".  That became code for "working from home" and that was the perception---that people working from home weren't really "working".

AND THEN, I BURNED THE BOAT. 

I realized that working for myself was the only way I was going to be happy.  I committed to a future---to working from home and my home office, or anywhere in the world I wanted to work.  I went all in.  When I did that, I "officially" set up an office.  I claimed the unused den as mine, I cleaned it out, I set up my works space and it became my official office.  Let me tell you, the effect that shift in mindset had on me was astronomical.  Now I don't care if the perception is "Bonbons and Netflix" because I LOVE where I work and what I am doing.  I have an official space.  I own my day.  Keep reading and find out more.

2.  Set up a Schedule

When you work a job where you have to go to an office or a shop or a factory or a place:  you have a schedule.  A schedule sets you up for success.  It's no different when you work from home.  Everyday I get up at the same time when my alarm goes off.  When I first started working from home, I didn't keep a schedule because I just worked until I got my work done.  Often I was working at 2 am and I would sleep until 7 am.  Looking back on it I realized that I was not set up for success.  While that may not be wrong for some people, I have a family and I realized that my work schedule needed to mimic the parts of my old schedule that worked for us.  Plus, I was happier and healthier with my old office schedule.  I clearly wasn't getting enough sleep, and even if I went back to sleep after the kids left for the day, I wan't effectively using my alone hours.  

So I changed my pattern.  I set up a schedule whereby I go to sleep at 11 pm and wake up at 6 am.  At first, it was really difficult because I am a night owl.  Now I love my schedule because I am highly productive:  I get into my home office at 8 am and I leave it somewhere between 3 and 5 pm.   There are days that I do errands, go to the gym, meet clients, go to the shop, go to a meeting, take the kids to appointments, etc.  But my "office" hours are more structured and I'm not working in the middle of the night.  I may still do emails from the couch from time to time or take calls on the patio---but having a "work" schedule equates to productivity for me.

3.  Eliminate Distractions

To increase your productivity if you work from home, you need to eliminate distractions.  I just follow a  practice I had in an office setting that worked for me.  I NEVER turn the TV on during the day.  I have set times I look at social media.  I schedule calls between 8 and 3 when nobody else is home. 

When I first started working from home, Social Media was my biggest time killer.  We've all been there---you start scrolling through your feed and bam!  It's suddenly two hours later and you've gotten nothing done.  When I recognized that time zapper I set a New Year's goal to reduce my social media usage and keep a schedule for it.  That has created a huge shift in my productivity.  Because I work from home I have to keep my cell phone nearby so it does take willpower to not check my social media accounts.  However, I allow myself to make a post for marketing reasons during the day or to do some research---no social scrolling.  I'm a happier person since the change!  

4.  Eat balanced meals

In a structured work setting you often have a lunch ---whether that's a sack lunch or eating out.  When you work from home you don't officially have "lunch", unless you're meeting clients or friends for a luncheon.  For some people, like me, that meant I could eat whatever, whenever.  So I would sit and do a little work, get up and stroll to the kitchen and eat a little. . .do some more work, get up again and get some more food. . .and so it went.  It's a time killer and while smaller more frequent meals can be a good thing, I was just snacking a lot.  

So I got rid of constant snacking by eating more balanced meals.  I eat breakfast before going into my office and take a break to fix lunch.  I also keep a box of multigrain crackers on my desk and some granola bars in my drawers to prevent using "getting a snack" as distraction.  

5.  Set Daily Goals

We work from home for a variety of reasons and one of them is freedom.  This means if you want to paint your family room on a Tuesday in the middle of the day, then by all means do it.  If you want to do the laundry then run to the grocery store---do that too.  

That being said, you still "work".  Sometimes our tasks of daily living can cloud over the fact that we still have a job even if we're home.  

My family takes advantage of the fact that I work from home.  "Mom, I forgot my P.E. clothes, can you bring them to school?"  "Honey, I scheduled the HVAC guy to come at 1 pm on Wednesday."  "Can you take the dogs to the vet at 10?"  

IT DRIVES ME CRAZY SOMETIMES.  

I don't know what they would do without me, and I am blessed and thankful to be here for us.    

However, all these family errands and things around the house are sometimes a time killer.  It's like they think it's all "Netflix and Bonbons" and not something professional going down here.

I realized that I need to set daily goals to keep on track.  That helps me know how to balance out the errands and chores.  If I have an errand in the middle of the day but I haven't yet finished my goals, I know I may have to work after dinner.  I put together my list, balance it with my professional appointments and personal errands and stay on track for the day.  It's not any different than when I worked in an office.  If there's a day I don't have a big list, then running all the little errands or doing chores is a piece of cake.  If my list is huge, I set limits by saying "sorry, I can't do that today because I'm busy."  Nearly everything can be rescheduled (except the urgent runs to school).  

I hope these tips have helped you.  If you work from home, let me know your own tips!