How to Work from Home Like a Pro

The ability to work remotely is becoming an increasingly sought-after perk among job seekers who value companies that are flexible when it comes to both hours and location.

It’s not hard to grasp the appeal of working from home: zero commute, no need to dress up, and fewer distractions from coworkers. Working from home can result in a major productivity boost, but it also comes with its own set of challenges — at least for the inexperienced. Here’s how to do it like a pro.

Make a schedule.

A great thing about working from home is that you have plenty of free time. Conversely, a terrible thing about working from home is that you feel like you should be working all the time.

Even though you’re not in the office, adopt the same mindset by giving yourself designated work hours, like 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lunch break. Of course, you can allow yourself a little wiggle room, but try to stick to the schedule so you can reach your goals for the day.

If you work with people who are in an office (or other home offices), be available to coworkers who need to communicate with you during the day. And, if you’re going to be away from your computer, let them know when and for how long. When you’re done for the day, send them a “sign off” email and, if applicable, give them the status of the project you’re working on.

Finally, when your “office hours” are over, stop working.

Set a routine.

It’s tempting to be the “anti-office” version of yourself while working from home: wearing your pajamas all day, staying in bed, and otherwise blurring the lines between a weekday and the weekend. But to be successful at working remotely, you need to take it seriously.

Adopt some healthy workday habits. Set your alarm in the morning so you’re getting started at a consistent time every day. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, and get out of your pajamas. You don’t have to dress up, but changing your clothes really does change your mindset. Respect your home workday, and you’ll feel better about yourself and get more accomplished.

Create a work space.

One of the challenges of working from home is that you’re surrounded by personal distractions, from your family to pets to the pile of laundry that you can’t escape. If you have the space, set up a designated home office. Preferably, it is a place where you can close the door and shield yourself from disturbances. (It’s best that this space isn’t in your bedroom, which you should try to maintain as a restful, tech-free zone — one that you associate with relaxing, not working.)

Outfit your office with everything you personally need to work uninterrupted for a significant stretch of time, like computer, printer, phone — even beverages and snacks. That way, you don’t have to keep getting up and disturbing your flow.

If you don’t have an extra room, remove as many distractions as you can. For example, move the pile of unopened mail from your sight line, turn off the TV, and close any browser windows on your computer that aren’t related to work.

If you work from home consistently and going into your company’s office isn’t an option (especially if you are an independent contractor), coworking spaces are a great option. Not only do they have everything you need, but they also help you avoid the isolation and loneliness that can come with working from home.

Be active.

As mentioned above, working from home can be incredibly isolating, so it’s important to get outside every day. Whether it’s going to the gym, running a quick errand at lunch, or walking your dog in the afternoon, make sure to take some time to breathe some fresh air and clear your head.

If you know other people who work from home, consider planning meetups to discuss challenges, bounce ideas off each other, and just have some fun together. That way, you won’t completely lose out on the social aspect of working in an office.