Office and Admin Work-Life Balance

5 Hacks to Improve Your Home Office Productivity

5 Hacks to Improve Your Home Office Productivity
Written by Miranda Pennington

The experts at have put together a list of suggestions to improve your working-from-home productivity! The independence is priceless but the distractions are endless—these tips will help you make the most out of working from the couch or coffee shop in your sweats.

1. Have an Office Space

The couch is your enemy when you’re working from home. No, hear me out! The couch is where you watch TV, read, snooze, cuddle with loved ones, put your feet up. Your brain is wired to unspool when you feel its comfy embrace.

Even if it’s just a basic dining room chair and a laptop desk, try to carve out a dedicated office space in your home. My husband and I each have ownership of a corner of the living room, and I rearrange my desk and bookcase configuration every 6 months or so to keep it fresh since I get tired of staring at the same walls all day.

2. Schedule Your Work Week

This one has been huge for me as I start a full-time freelance and teaching schedule—I have to plot out deadlines for my classes and fit freelance writing and editing projects in around those. If I don’t know what’s coming, I won’t know when I need to pull a late night and when it’s okay to knock off early.

Every week, take a few minutes to plan ahead—it’s vital time well-spent that will save you stress and scrambling down the line.

3. Have a Regular Routine

The beauty of working at home is that if I wanted, I could work from noon to 8 p.m. and lounge around every morning. But I’ve found that while I am the world’s crankiest morning person, getting up early, walking the dog, having breakfast and coffee, working diligently from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then doing smaller, less demanding projects in the afternoon hours is the way to go.

Come up with some rituals that replace the morning commute (mine is an extra long shower), and reward yourself with a trip to the kitchen or the corner store when you’ve accomplished your goals for the day.

4. Know Your Motivation

There is something about noise-canceling headphones that immediately puts me in a ready-to-work mindset. Even if the apartment is quiet, confining my senses to my immediate surroundings helps me zero in on the work at hand.

Figure out what motivates you to buckle down. Is it consistency? Variety? Do you need a different coffee shop table every day of the week or are you better off wearing a groove in your home office floor from sitting in the same spot?

5. Get in a Working Mindset

A tricky part about the omnipresence of Gchat or texting when you work from home is that you can actually stay just as connected to your friends at work as you could when you shared office space. Sometimes my husband works from home and I wind up relocating to the bedroom because I’ve gotten so used to the empty space around me.

Figure out how to filter out the distractions that might derail you—and remember, you are the only one responsible for getting your work done! Be gentle with yourself as you adjust, be realistic about what you can take on, and don’t be afraid to draw firm work-life boundaries. Just because your home office is right next to your couch station is no reason you have to be on call 24/7!

And truthfully, working from home isn’t for everyone. There are likely co-working spaces near you where you can set up shop on a weekly or monthly basis if you find you need a background hum of things happening.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.