dinner plate

It’s 2pm and you’re sitting in your pajamas when, suddenly, the phone rings. It’s an old friend calling for a catch-up. After a 30-minute conversation, you put down the phone, trying to decide whether to make a sandwich or do the laundry. You know you have a 100 emails waiting to be opened but decide they can wait until later. I mean, let’s face it, they’re not going anywhere, are they? Welcome to the world of home working where, if you’re not careful, no actual work will ever be done.

I’ve worked on/off from home for the past eight years, after 25 years spent working in an office. The first six months were the hardest. I felt isolated and lonely. And, yes, there were often days where I really didn’t see the point of changing out of my dressing gown and slippers. Thankfully, since then, I’ve developed good habits that help to maximize my productiveness while ensuring I don’t go mad from starring at the same four walls 24/7.

I asked a variety of start-up entrepreneurs working from home if they could share with me their top tips for how to get the most out of home working. Here’s what they told me:

  1. “Always get properly dressed,” said Max Bramwell, CEO of personalize.co.uk. “Whether it’s a shirt and trousers or jeans and a tee-shirt, always get dressed as if you were going to your place of work. A hoody and jogging bottoms are a big no for keeping motivated and sane during your home working hours!”
  1. Damian Wilk, freelance Multimedia Producer suggests that “after a certain time you make yourself out of your office (even if you’re staying in), no matter how tiny this one last request at 8pm is.”
  1. “Go out for a coffee and work for an hour or two there,” says Vesna Planko, CEO of Habitual.io.
  1. Nick Stein, a start-up marketing consultant, suggests, “incorporating some movement during the day. Do a short work out or stretching.”
  1. “Make yourself accountable,” says Dom Rodgers, CEO of Brandjourneys.co.uk. “Keep track of things you have done well, and areas you need to improve. Being your own boss, means you have to boss yourself around occasionally!”
  1. “Stop and break regularly!” says Philippa Main, MD at Oscar & Owl (oscarandowl.com). She recommends an app called Focus Keeper, a work and study timer available from the App Store. She adds, “In my breaks I put on a wash, unload the dishwasher, put lunch on, pop to the supermarket (while it's quiet), water the garden.”
  1. Nandita Narayan, CEO of Designraaga.com says, “Block social media pages – it’s an easy time suck! Also, put your phone on silent and away in the other room (unless you are in customer service). One ping can take you 20 min to get back into the groove. And time is money when you are working from home.”
  1. “Get up earlier then you need to and clear your mind in preparation for the day,” says Nadine Sancroft, CEO of justentrepreneurs.co.uk.
  1. Neil Sheth, CEO of onlywayonline.com advises, “Change your space regularly to create new ideas and freshen up your thinking. I move from my office to my lounge and kitchen island whenever I’m starting to feel that lull coming on.”
  1. Many entrepreneurs I spoke to suggested list making as a great way of making sure tasks are accomplished. Dave Booth, CEO of Visitedme.com (launching soon) goes one further and says, “Take 10 minutes every morning and list the top things you need to get accomplished. If a specific task would take longer than 30 minutes, then break it into smaller tasks that you can complete in 30 minutes.”
  1. Dominic Ahern, CEO of bestsuited.co.uk adds, “My tip is start work early and use the quiet time whilst everyone else is commuting to clear your 'to-do' list, then take out the amount of time you would have been travelling to work during the day to go gym or yoga classes.”
  1. Sarah Carty, Global Growth Marketing Lead at Visyond, says “so far the thing that keeps me sane is taking breaks to take my dog on an extended walk!”
  1. Social media consultant Corrie Jones says, “Where space allows, don't work from your bedroom - it can be difficult to motivate yourself for work in the room where you sleep and relax!”
  1. Richard Das, Founder at cleverbit.io says, “Begin your day by reminding yourself of what you accomplished the day before. End your day by setting your goals for the next day.”
I’ve got my own routine. I hit the gym most mornings at around 8am. It’s a four-minute walk from my flat and I find my 30-minute workout a great way to start the day, focus and ensure that I get off my butt! I usually take an hour out during the afternoon to cook myself a large, healthy meal. This is my ‘me’ time and I find cooking meditative. Last but not least, I love lists and use Asana or my notebook to make sure that I keep on top of everything I have to do. There’s nothing more satisfying than putting a tick in a box!

By Suzanne Noble, co-founder of Frugl