9 Productivity Tips for Working at Home

These 9 work-from-home tips will help you stay productive whilst allowing you to strike the perfect balance between family and work time.

Working from home is a great way to juggle the responsibilities of family life with the need to make money. If you work from home, or are a stay-at-home-mum who’s considering starting your own business, then these tips will help you stay focused, productive, and on track.

how to work from home and be productive

I worked from home for eight years on The Organised Housewife before moving out into an office. I loved the flexibility that working from home gave me, but I did need to be very disciplined when it came to avoiding distractions and staying productive. I had to make sure I wasn’t distracted by housework or television, and by the same token I needed to ensure that work didn’t distract me from my family. It took a lot of discipline to work from home, but it was achievable to create a good home/work balance. Here are the top productivity tips I learnt that helped me successfully work from home.

Whilst we are all different in how we work – messy vs tidy, daylight hours vs night, the different routine of our families – these tips for working at home can be easily adapted to suit you and the way you like to work.

1. Create A Designated Workspace

As comfortable as it may be to work from the couch, this delightful and comfy setting will hinder your productivity. Create a corner or room in your home as a designated space for your work instead. If your dining table needs to be your office, try and ensure you have a tidy kitchen so you aren’t looking at the mess while trying to work.

Organised home office desk

I used to share my office with my hubby (who also worked from home) and my assistant. We created a great space that was light and fresh. I purchased the desks and drawers from Ikea, and on the wall I had a big blog editorial calendar (I work well with visual aids) and above an inspiration board to keep me motivated. I am a huge advocate for having positive affirmations in your work space and still have them to date. That’s why I created these affirmation cards last year – they come with a tidy timber stand and feature a unique card for every week of the year!

Inspirational cards for work desk home office

2. Create Working Hours

The beauty of working at home is you can choose your own hours and the amount of hours you work.

I love my work and could easily do it 7 days a week, but this balance is not healthy. When I was working from home I set hours to work during the week, strictly from 10am-3pm. I didn’t enter the office after these hours or on weekends, which helped me stay away from all things work related. If I wanted to go online I used my iPad or laptop – never the office!

I could easily fill up all hours in the day with tasks I needed to for the blog. It was not uncommon (and still isn’t!) for me to switch the computer off with tasks still on my to-do list and over 100 unread emails… but my theory was that it was my time with the kids and it could all wait until tomorrow.

3. Find Time To Exercise

It’s so easy to get caught up in the “I have so much to do and no time to exercise” excuse. I put my hand up that I used to be like that, but it’s not good for our bodies to sit all day without moving. When I was working from home I started to integrate a morning walk into my routine (and still do this now!). It’s important to fit in time to move your body and get some fresh air and sunshine, and it has always helped energise me for the day ahead.

My fur-baby Zoe agrees with the importance of a morning walk – LOL!

morning exercise important to start day and feel productive

4. Create A Routine

Treat working at home like a regular job. Get up in the mornings, have breakfast, exercise, shower, get dressed, do tasks around the home like cleaning and washing, then start work. Being showered and dressed will help you to feel refreshed and ready to start the day.

Create a routine for the areas that you know can swallow up time, so you can be more productive. Social media can be a huge time waster, which is why I used to schedule Facebook and Instagram time into my coffee breaks at home. I would start writing a blog post, then have a coffee after one hour. This is when I would check social media, and once I’d finished my coffee I would switch Facebook and Instagram off.

I created this A4 Weekly Planner Notepad to help me plan out my week at a quick glance, and ensure that I stuck to my priorities for the week.

Plan your working week weekly planner

5. Screen Calls & Limit Distractions

Phone calls can become a distraction and before you know it an hour of productive work time has just gone out the window and your deadlines are not met… which means you end up eating into your home/family time. If you don’t need your phone, turn on the ‘do not disturb’ function so that you don’t get sidetracked.

I truly love my family and friends but they often assumed that because I worked at home, I wasn’t busy. I would screen my phone calls through the day and message those that had called to check they were okay and to let them know I was working and couldn’t take the call right then. If they had called for a chat, I would call them back later that afternoon, on the weekend or schedule a time to catch up for a coffee.

Organised work desk with phone dock

I have even stopped answering the door for those dear lovely people who would come around and see if I was interested in putting solar on my roof, or signing up to something they were trying to sell. In the end they only served to distract me from my work.

6. Keep Your Desk Tidy

I love the saying “tidy workplace, tidy mind” because for me a messy desk is a distraction and disrupts productiveness, especially when I’m trying to find paperwork. When I worked from home my office didn’t have doors, so my desk was visible to everybody in the house. For my own sanity and love of being organised I liked to keep it tidy. It drove me crazy starting work with an untidy desk – it was like starting the day with an untidy mind, so I made sure that I left it tidy before I picked the kids up from school. It’s a habit that I still do today, even in my office away from home.

Productivity Tips for Working at Home

On the flip side though, there is an article by David Burkus on Forbes which explains when it makes sense to have a messy desk and when to keep it tidy. If a messy desk resonates more with you then go with that – it’s all about finding your style of productivity and working with that.

7. Consider Your Attire

I love my PJs and could happily wear them all day, but it would also make me feel lazy and sluggish which in turn wouldn’t be very productive. Speaking of sluggish, when I was working from home and felt tired or knew that I had to get through a long to-do list, I would work in my gym clothes. It improved my mentality, made me feel more active, and helped me complete tasks quicker.

8. Use A To-Do List

When I worked from home around my children’s schedule, I had limited time to waste. This is why I created a Things To-Do List. I am such a forgetful person, and still to this day rely on my to-do list daily. I put all tasks onto my list, then prioritise each one and add due dates. I usually look at my to-do list before I shut down each day so I know what is due the next day, I can then create a game plan with a quick glance at this list. I ensure that I complete my regular daily tasks before I start on my to-do list. I also spend some time managing my to-do list on a Friday afternoon to help me structure the following week.

Things to do list for organised working week

9. Turn Off Notifications & Limit Multi-Tasking

Focus on one task and resist the urge to multi-task. Close down emails and switch off Facebook and Instagram… ooh the horror! It was amazing how much this improved my focus and how eliminating simple distractions like this allowed me to work more efficiently.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP TIP FOR WORKING AT HOME?


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38 comments

Chloe August 6, 2015 - 6:43 AM

Thanks Kat. I love the working in fit wear – you would be ready to do exercise whenever! I’m a sahm to two littlies under four and I find ‘oh we got to go for a walk’ and I’m in my pjs then it’s another half hour…. Great tip!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:18 AM

Yeah, no excuses then!!

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Emily August 6, 2015 - 7:53 AM

I’m definitely going to try working in my gym clothes, I find it really hard to switch off house/mum mode when I need to work on my business. Love these tips Kat, this week has been brilliant, certainly changed a few ways I look at things.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:19 AM

Hope they help Emily!

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Maria August 6, 2015 - 7:55 AM

Kat, I have often wondered how you do it and I just love that you are so structured with your time. I find it hard to switch off when I have so much to do, and honestly I probably do neglect the family and I feel so guilty for it. But your right there is always something, it’s never ending. You are just brilliant.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:23 AM

Maria there will always be something probably just as important as each other, running your own business is never ending, but for your own sanity you do need to switch off and take a break, you will be a better person for it tomorrow if you do 🙂

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Hayley August 6, 2015 - 7:57 AM

I have only just started working from home and I am really struggling already, especially with family thinking I am home doing nothing all day, they don’t get it. I’ve really enjoyed reading your tips, your honesty that you screen your calls as I have considered this but wonder what my family would think if they knew, but I need to if I want to get any work done. Thank you for sharing your tips Kat, I find these priceless.

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Nicole @ The Builder's Wife August 6, 2015 - 8:03 AM

This post is perfect. Just the advice I need right now. I work two jobs from home, and organisation is paramount to getting anything done. Must turn off my notifications!!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:13 AM

notifications are so distracting, if I don’t turn them off I wonder.. ooh what did Bobby just say, I should go look, Cathy just replied to a post, curiosity takes the better of me.

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Tea Poulsen August 6, 2015 - 8:15 AM

Great tips 🙂
I do love that one of the things about working from home is that I can choose to not to dress up some days for work – can wear my trackie pants and I always wear my woolly slippers not matter what else I am wearing 😉
And my office will never ever be as tidy as yours – no matter how much I try 🙂 – but I am working on getting it more organised.
And I do love the freedom by being your own boss like today I am going to help set up a Haven for Assist A Sista – any orders coming in have to wait till tomorrow – would not be able to do this if I worked for someone else.
Will come back next week to read this to remind me again to try and be a bit more organised 😉
cheers Tea

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:15 AM

Love that you are taking time out for such a great cause Tea. I must admit, I have worn trackie pants and bed socks each day through winter, which is probably as comfortable as PJs, but I love that too about working from home, comfort x

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Venessa O'Connell August 6, 2015 - 9:43 AM

Hi Kat,
Thank you for the great article. I also work from home and feel so very blessed to be able to. My 1 little tip that I try to follow is to have a general tidy and purge once a week in the office. I also Pride myself that I try to recycle as much as I can from packaging, cartons etc. Keep up the great work Kat.
Venessa

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:16 AM

That is a great idea Venessa, a once a week tidy up, fabulous idea especially if you are time poor and can’t tidy the desk each day 🙂

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Holly August 6, 2015 - 10:03 AM

These are excellent tips and most of them I am failing but well aware of it. The screening calls and to do lists I’ve got mastered but pjs and a clean work space I’m totally filing, plus set work hours. Would you believe it’s all on the to do list 😉

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 6, 2015 - 11:17 AM

Start with the clothes Holly, change to gym clothes and see if that helps energise you and then do the next task on your to-do list!

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Jen @ Lifewrangling August 6, 2015 - 1:58 PM

What fantastic tips! I think the biggest thing for me was turning off email notifications. They used to be automatically set to beep and show a box on my screen every time one arrived. So distracting! Sometimes I would find myself taken off on a huge tangent and not getting back to my 9am task until after 2pm. No longer. Now I only check them when I have finished the task I set myself, not before.

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Fiona August 6, 2015 - 7:53 PM

Thankyou Kat! What great advice. My downfall is consistency, on the exception of exercising and being dressed for success even if that means being in gym gear (they are so comfy).

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iAllure August 6, 2015 - 8:58 PM

Definitely a To Do list and sticking to it. I agree that working from home has its own set of distractions and without my To Do list I feel that I am constantly busy without being productive

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Catriona August 7, 2015 - 10:40 AM

Thank you Kat for a terrific post. I have been struggling with the work/life balance of late and this post has reminded of what needs to be done to achieve that balance! Thanks again.

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Jody August 7, 2015 - 10:53 AM

Hi Kat. Thank you for that article. I’ve just started working from home with my new venture, and I really have to sit down and think about how to balance work with everything else that comes with being a SAHM to two little munchkins (3 years & 9 months). Your article definitely reminded me off things I need to focus on to make it work more smoothly. Thanks again

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Kat August 7, 2015 - 10:54 AM

Great tips Katrina. Just wondering what is the name of your Ikea desks? I love how your work area looks. Thanks Kat

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Emma and Carla aka The Merrymaker Sisters August 7, 2015 - 11:24 AM

KAT… these tips are so good! Plus we have total desk envy hehe.

Note to merrymakers: get off Facebook! xx

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Laura August 7, 2015 - 4:05 PM

This is so helpful. I started working from home 9 months ago and I have been struggling to find balance. Some weeks I do heaps of work and the housework falls behind, other weeks I feel like I have stayed on top of the housework but have fallen behind on my work. I too found sitting on the lounge I wasn’t getting anything done so I have taken over one end of the dining table. I have been working on my hubby to turn the guest room into a study, but no such luck yet!

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Emma August 7, 2015 - 8:26 PM

You can download a “Do Not Knock” sign (used to be able to get it as a sticker) from the ACCC so that pesky salespeople don’t disrupt you. I’ve found it’s cut the door knockers down considerably!

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Janna August 7, 2015 - 10:24 PM

Thanks for the great tips. I have recently returned to study while still working full time and I think these tips can also be applied to my situation as well. I can be so easily distracted from my homework and assignments and as the study is all online I only have myself to keep me on track!

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Rebecca McFarland August 8, 2015 - 2:42 PM

I love it when a blog post multiplies and turns into two posts 🙂 love these tips although I am guilty of breaking pretty much all of them! I could definitely be more productive.

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Melissa August 9, 2015 - 2:01 PM

Great tips Kat! As a fellow WAHM I found most of them I already do but there are a few news ones there to try. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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desiree domingo mcfallar September 1, 2015 - 6:33 AM

Hello my new BFF

Your Blog and Site is just what I needed (as I sit here in my P.J.’s, hee hee) to read this morning. I had these exact thoughts this morning as I got out of bed before I read your blog post about not working in my office space in my pj again. I said to myself….I am going to wash up, get dressed just as I did when I went to my office, even a little lipstick, lol. Then no more TV while I am working, no more distractions. I have small a TV on my desk – kick that thing out of there, lol.

Get organized, I got a whiteboard; I am going to use it for my calendar – when to do my campaigns, newsletters, blog, inventory, etc.

I am just starting the blog, so your blog tips will help. Thank you for being here in this cyber world of madness, I think I can make it now. Dez

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 1, 2015 - 10:25 AM

whiteboards are great to help you stay organised, my hubby uses his as a to-do list. Wishing you all the best on your blog journey.

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Sophia January 5, 2016 - 12:20 PM

Hi Kat. Great tips. When do you do your meal planning? Is that part of your todo list?

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Janine June 21, 2016 - 9:19 PM

Hi Kat,
I was wondering where you got your beautiful tape dispenser, stapler & colorful bowls from?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 23, 2016 - 4:03 PM

Janine you can get these from Officeworks at the moment 😉

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Krissy June 21, 2016 - 10:23 PM

One I learnt recently in a time management course was to work to your energy levels – when you have the most energy you are more focussed so avoid distractions at those times!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 23, 2016 - 4:04 PM

this makes sense Krissy,sometimes in the afternoon I am ready for a nap and find I’m not very productive then 🙂

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wildliferazi March 13, 2020 - 2:54 AM

Thank you for sharing this great article.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 17, 2020 - 9:38 AM

You’re very welcome 🙂

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Jacky March 24, 2020 - 8:07 AM

It looks like I will be working from home shortly because of what is happening. I love your tips! Especially having a dedicated work area, not wearing my pj’s but getting dressed. I have set hours that I have to work so that won’t be an issue. I have today off so am going to put your ideas into practice and get prepared!
A big thank you Kat, I love The Organised Housewife!!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 24, 2020 - 9:34 AM

It’s definitely strange times at the moment Jacky… so very happy to hear that this working from home blog has been helpful for you. Have fun setting up your space 🙂 Kat x

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