Image of designer working at home

How to stay productive.

I’ve been working from home for the last five years. Thats not new but self-isolation with the whole family definitely is. We are all heading into new territory but here are some things I have learned as a work from freelancer to stay productive. 

Keep to a work schedule

Many of us are waking up for the first time thinking, “how is this going to work?” Your work colleagues are spread out all over the city or even over the country. You don’t have the routine of your commute to get you mentally prepared for work. You can’t drop in to your local coffee shop or the familiarity of a desk to get you in the work mood. Keeping to a work schedule really helps. So, obviously, get dressed to work. If you are still lounging around in your jim jams, you’ll be attacking the refrigerator and binging on Netflix in no time. Getting mentally prepared for work is half the battle.

Create a work space

Just like you have your place in the office, create a space for yourself for working at home. There is a physical element too. Working in bed, hunched over papers spread all over the duvet is just going to result in a cricked back and a trip to the chiropractor. But there is also the mental side – you are ready to work. 

You have everything you need at hand – phone, computer, comfortable chair, pens, pads. Let you family know that this is your work space and you are not to be disturbed. This can be very tricky when kids are around – but if they know you take breaks and they can get your attention then, it will all work out. Which brings us on to the next point.

Take breaks

You can get burned out working alone – there are no distractions, just a screen, so when you are in the zone, you quickly lose track of time. “That’s great” I hear you say BUT if that is all you do, you mind and body will suffer and you will be no good to anyone.

Screens will damage your eyes and inertia will damage your body. We are not meant to stay in one place. If you were at work you’d be moving around, going to meetings, the kitchen, stopping for a chat. Schedule in ten-minute breaks, eat lunch, take the dog for a walk. Play with the kids. Your body will thank you later.

Keep on track

I am a very dis-organised person, easily distracted, I get curious about way too many things. That has its upsides but working at home can be disastrous. Some people can just put their head down and just churn. I have to map out my day, then I don’t have to think. Small, easily achieved goals keep me on track throughout the day. Some people swear by a daily to-do list, items they can tick off one-by-one.

Other people will block out each hour of their calendar. There is a very interesting book by bestselling author Nir Eyal called Indistractable.He details how to control your attention span. He has method which allows him to quickly schedule every 15 minutes of his day. It puts you in the driving seat of what you want to accomplish.


If you have not worked at home before it is very challenging to make the switch. It is a mental challenge more than anything. Technology will keep you connected with your workmates. All of your work cues will have been removed, your home is usually the place you relax. There are so many distractions around, especially when you have to home school kids, cook and clean – it is easy to let work slip. Get in the right mind space and set up yourself for success and you will be able to overcome it.