Tips For Working At Home

Some of you may be new to working at home. Lise and I have been running our web design business like this for over 20 years, and it took some getting used to.  Here are a few tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years:

Have a dedicated work area

If you can keep your work and play separate, it helps. Try to find a bit of space that can be for “work” so that you can get away from it later on.

Try really hard to keep your home office out of your bedroom. Work and sleep do not mix. : )

Get dressed, put on shoes, and go to work.

You’ll feel a bit more like working if you are dressed for it. Plus, you’ll be ready when someone tries to video-phone you for a meeting.

Decide how to divide the day up

If your goal is an 8 hour day, you now have the luxury of deciding when those 8 hours fall. You might work 9 to 5, but you might decide to change your shift to something else.  It isn’t a crime to take some daytime to do something important that is easier done during the day.

Be careful not to overwork yourself. This was a problem for us when we first started our business. It was hard to know when to stop, and we often felt guilty stopping because there was (always) more to do. Eventually we learned that taking breaks helped us work better.

Make To-Do lists

Making a daily or weekly to-do list will help keep you organized. Write down the tasks to accomplish, and cross them off as they are completed.

It’s also good to write down your tasks and track your time for everything you do. You never know when someone will demand to see proof of your work. It helps if you can send it to them right away.

Have personal projects to work on in free time

There will be times when you don’t really have much work to do at all, or you can get everything done quickly and have a big blank slate ahead of you for the day. This is a good time to work on a personal project of some sort. Learn a language, write a story, draw a picture, read a book, clean the house, or practice what you need to practice. 

One of the ways we filled time was doing demonstration projects – things no one asked us to do, but we wanted to experiment and maybe build up our resume. A lot of our writing, animation, and games have been unpaid side-projects.

If you have no personal projects in mind, consider helping others. Volunteer with a local organization to do something from home – just writing about and talking up your favorite non-profits would help them out. Write a story about your organization. You have time.

Take breaks

I mentioned this above, but want to say it again. Breaks help!

One of the best break-enforcers I’ve found is a pet. Long ago, I would work and work and if the cat came by to meow at me, I’d ignore it and keep working. Then the meows would get louder and more annoying. And I’d keep working. This would go on until I gave in.

Later, I realized I could use this to my advantage. The cats didn’t need constant all day attention, but when they asked for it, I began to immediately stop work and see what they needed. Food? Go out? Love and attention?

Pretty soon I had my daily breaks taken care of. If a cat needed something, I took a break. It would be over in 5-10 minutes in most cases, the cats would be happier, and I’d go back to work refreshed.

No pet? Go step outside. Walk around the block, or in the woods. Take a bath or shower. Get in touch with family or friends.


It is very easy to get into bad eating habits. Try to avoid the bowl or bag of snacks near your work area. Take breaks for lunch (or dinner, depending on how you divide up your work hours). Try to eat healthy food rather than junk. Try to avoid living on caffeine.

Don’t overdo it

This should be obvious, but some of us are workaholics and don’t know when to stop working.  If you find yourself replying to work memos after midnight, you are probably overdoing it.


Hope this helps. If you work from home on a regular basis, feel free to share your tips and tricks.

Comments | 1

  • A Note on Breaks

    One thing that has helped me over the decades is to come to a good stopping point before taking a break. That makes the work easier to get back to.

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