Accomplish more when you work from home

Work From Home - Insider Advice

Now that you've turned your home into your workplace, how do you keep up your momentum and increase your income? Time management and productivity expert and Fast Company contributor Laura Vanderkam reveals that 50 percent of America's workforce will telecommute by 2020. Since you're among the early converts to telecommuting, discover some insider tips to boost your productivity and make your new work-from-home environment as much of a stress-free one as possible.

Watch the Clock

You can easily get distracted when you work from home. Instead of answering emails or completing spreadsheets, you could catch up on "Shark Tank" or browse Pinterest for home decor ideas. In an interview for RealSimple, author and productivity expert Edward Hallowell notes that the phone and internet create significant "time sucks" for telecommuters. Whether you're working for yourself or for someone else, you don't want to waste your workday.

Even though you work from home, structure your day as you would if you were at the office. Separate your home life from your work life. Between certain hours, focus only on work-related tasks. If you need to disconnect the cable or put your phone on silent, take that step to avoid tempting distractions. People who work from home often struggle to maintain adequate productivity, so setting a schedule from the beginning can prove useful.

Find Your Ideal Work Environment

If you can carve out a separate workspace in your home, you might experience better productivity. Make this workspace a dedicated place that you use exclusively for generating an income. Select furniture and decor that stimulates you, and choose an ergonomic desk chair that won't leave you stiff and sore every afternoon when you wrap up work for the day.

Some telecommuters, business owners, and freelancers love to work in their pajamas or leisure clothes, but that apparel choice is not always the best route. You might feel more professional if you dress the part — after all, your physical presence becomes part of your work environment. Veteran work-from-home expert Susan Baroncini-Moe says, "Even if you're working from home, you must still convey a professional demeanor on the phone and in meetings. For some, it helps to dress the same as if you were going to an office."

She also notes that you will produce better work quality if you're comfortable and motivated in your workspace. Claiming an end of the kitchen table as your desk or reclining awkwardly in bed while you work might not help you meet your goals.

Become a List Maker

When you work away from home, someone or something else probably dictates your schedule. For example, you might receive project deadlines that come from a boss who checks in 15 times per day. If you work from home, however, you're in complete control of your time. Making lists can help you set reasonable goals and learn how to manage your time more wisely.

In fact, science-backed evidence shows that creating a physical — rather than only a mental — to-do list helps lower anxiety levels and improve efficiency. You know exactly what you'll do after you finish your current task so that you can focus your energy on the work in front of you.

Plus, you'll feel good every time you check off an item from your list. That feeling creates a sense of satisfaction to motivate you to continue with the rest of your list. Consider writing your lists by hand instead of creating them on your computer or phone so that you get the physical satisfaction of crossing off an item on your list.

Manage Work-Life Balance

You might think managing a work-life balance when you work from home is easy, but many telecommuters experience the opposite result. Marie Forleo, an entrepreneur who built a multimillion-dollar business while working from home, recommends scheduling family and personal time as well as work time. Choose a time to get up and a time to close up shop for the evening, then factor in one hour or so for personal time in the middle of the day.

You can also schedule chores such as cleaning, cooking, and shopping, but keep most of your workday free for work itself. Nine-to-five jobs exist for a reason; they've proved effective over decades of use. If the practice works for Fortune 100 companies, it can work in your home.

When you work from home, you might feel obligated to work all the time. Instead of feeling distracted by other activities, you might find yourself at the computer from the moment you wake up until you finally decide to call it a night. Working constantly is as unhealthy as its opposite side. Even though your computer exists in your office, you don't need to sit at the keyboard for endless hours.

Find a Job You Love

Thousands of people search for work-from-home jobs each day. In fact, you won't find a shortage of opportunities, but you don't want to dive into the first advertisement for one that you see. Instead, consider many work-from-home jobs so you don't regret your decision. If you're not enjoying the work you do now at home, consider switching jobs to one that can offer more satisfaction.

For example, some people prefer to spend their days in creative pursuits, but they don't handle minutiae well. Others revel in routine, order, and details, but they leave the creative work to someone else. Maybe you're talented with numbers and could get a job as a remote accountant, or perhaps you'd like to pursue a career as a freelance web designer.

Whatever the case, you might never succeed while working from home if you don't find joy in your work. As noted above, many temptations exist to step away from work. If you love your job, those temptations won't be as strong.

Many people say they want to work from home, but now that you're actually doing it, you can refine your process and figure out what works for you. All work-from-home professionals need personalized schedules and approaches to meet their goals.