There are so many people working from home right now, and the more people I talk to, the more I hear are not loving it.

I understand. I’ve been working from home full-time for 8 years now. And even before that, in my corporate job, I worked from home as often as they’d let me (not much)!

The good news? It gets easier. With practice. A few good practices help too! Here are a few things that help me:

#1 – Measuring your writing by output, not time

Note, this is goes against some of the typical work-from-home advice which urges you to make a schedule. Making a schedule doesn’t work for me as a writer, because I measure my daily writing on word output, not time-spent.

I don’t want a gold-star for sticking to my “write from 8-10am” plan. That makes it way too easy for me to say, “Well, I only wrote 150 words in 2 hours, but at least I tried!”

I’ve found my writing is stronger, and my procrastination less when I set production goals, not time goals.

If you don’t have the luxury of “writing all day,” you can still measure your output words/pages. Your goal may be smaller than mine, but if you’re focused on results instead of the passage of time, you’ll feel more accomplished.

PS—Exception. If I’m having a surly “don’t wanna!!!!” day, I’ll set a timer for 5 minutes, and tell myself I just have to open the manuscript and “be with it” for five minutes. Try it! I bet you’ll write more than you think!

#2 – Write your to-do list the night before

I try to write tomorrow’s tasks down the night before. When I can wake up, and get right to work, I get more done, and then can end my work day earlier.

#3 – Limit your number of to-do items

I only ever write down 6 to-do items on a given day. Any more than that, and I’ll just pick the “easy ones” rather than the important ones. I also list them in order of importance and difficulty.

The hardest and/or most important task always go at the top of the list. I don’t move onto task #2 until I complete task #1.

Note—I do keep a Master To Do list with lots of stuff! I reference that when I’m picking my Daily Six” based on importance and urgency.

#4 – Wear headphones, even if you not like to listen to music

This one really only applies to people that live with other people, but headphones are a universal (and polite) way to say “don’t talk to me.” It won’t work on babies and Littles, obviously. But older family members should get the hint (or be taught the hint). You don’t even have to listen to music! I usually don’t! But the headphones signal to my husband (and to myself, honestly), that work is underway.

Pro tip—while I used to only ever work in silence, I’ve discovered something fabulous: Brain.FM. I was skeptical about it at first, because it sounds so gimmicky! But I get so much more done with it, than without it.

#5 – Get Organized

I know. Eye roll. “Thanks, Captain Obvious.”

But seriously, having a system makes a difference and keeping everything in its place, especially if you’re an information worker. I’ve been good at organizing my physical space—digital space? Not as much.

Recently, I’ve dedicated time to streaming my digital workflow and processes, and it’s been a game-changer. I spend less time looking for things on my computer. Plus, my head is clearer, so I’m able to focus on strategy and big picture stuff!

Lastly—be flexible with yourself! Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get as much done as you think you should, or when you have a hard time focusing. You’re not doing anything wrong—remember it’s a learned skill! 

Work From Home Tips for Writers