7 Expert Tips for Working Effectively From Home

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woman working in home office

According to Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people working from home increased by 73 percent between 2005 and 2011. Running a business from home may seem like a dream, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Follow these simple tips to ensure smooth sailing and maximize productivity.

1. Make Filing a Priority

As an organizer, you’re well aware of the importance of a good filing system. Paul Robert Edwards, author of Working from Home, suggests  that using color-coding, labels and a strict digital filing system be priority number one. Whatever system you choose, take the time to keep it up to date. Don’t suffer from shoemaker’s children syndrome!

2. Minimize Errands

You may work from home, but you still have to pop over to the post office or Office Max. Errands eat up valuable time and money. Services like a Pitney Bowes mail machine can cut costs and time spent idling in the car dramatically.

3. Invest In a Separate Landline

A separate telephone line is a must for business organization, even if you’re trying to cut costs. Julie Phillipi-Whitney, CEO and founder of Phillipi-Whitney Communications says getting a landline was one of the first things she did. A dedicated phone ensures children won’t answer and you never run the risk of your mother-in-law calling, among other things.

4. Buy Separate Business Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance does not cover your business in any capacity. Erica Bell of Business.com previously shared important information about the various types of business insurance.

5. Learn About Tax Deductions

Tax law isn’t a very fun or glamorous endeavor, but you could save thousands by being “in the know.” Sam Fawaz, accountant and financial planner suggests you learn the top 15 deductions like the back of your hand. This will lower your tax prep fees and make potential audits painless. Entrepreneur Magazine lists the deductions here for easy reference.

6. Set Ground Rules, Don’t Blur Them

Without a rigid schedule, your personal and business life can become a tangled mess, with neither functioning effectively. Richard Rabinowitz runs a workshop series called Digital Photo Academy from his home and brings in over $2 million dollars a year. His staff of six works around his dining room table from 10 AM to 6PM, then it promptly turns back into his apartment. He manages his success by adhering to strict rules:

  • Work designated hours
  • Clean up after yourself
  • Prepare food in advance
  • Stay in designated area
  • Handle family issues outside of work hours

7. Quality Software is Your Friend

Take time and effort to find the right software for your needs—this might be a challenge, but it’s worth it. It took me years to find Swift To-Do List but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

You’ve probably got a few strategies of your own for working effectively in your home office. What would you add to this list?

Image © Bill Holden / Image Source – 34BH0001RF

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.


  1. Avatar Sabrina on July 30, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Great Tips! Thanks for sharing. Making filing a priority is a great reminder. A lot of my clients, do not file anything away until I get there and then they take care of it. I don’t mind being a catalyst for their motivation. =) If they can’t motivate themselves, they can use our next appointment as motivation. =) Have a productive day.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Great that you can be a motivator for your clients! I wonder if they wait until their in-laws (or other guests) are coming to dust the baseboards too? 🙂

  2. Avatar Debbie on July 31, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I’m sure this isn’t what you are looking for, but I think one strategy is to spend some time, albeit limited time, reading blogs like this one. There’s no question that working from home has its distractions, so its easy to get tunnel vision. We are sometimes full steam ahead and forget about tips/techniques, etc. that will be helpful. Having them brought to the forefront again gives you a chance to revamp. Or better yet enlightens you that something new is on the market that will make your work easier, like when you found Swift To-Do List.

    Thank you for the tips, especially the tax deductions ~ always a good reminder.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

      That’s a good point, Debbie! It’s so important to keep up with professional development, whether it’s simply reading blogs or attending major conferences. It’s too easy to think “I’m too busy” but how else can we be exposed to new ideas and trends?

  3. Avatar Andi Willis on August 2, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Great tips, Janet! I love the freedom that working from home brings. One tip I would add is to have an aesthetically pleasing space to work. I used to hate working in my office and would drift around the house with my laptop. Then I painted the walls, made new curtains and hung inspirational and beautiful artwork. Now I love to spend time in the room which in turn has made me more productive.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I agree – in fact, I chose this particular photo because it portrays such a pleasant workspace! I’m working on fixing up my office right now – replacing the dark curtains with a nice light-filtering roller shade, and planning to replace my big old desk with something that won’t take up so much space. I can’t wait!

  4. Avatar Lisa Mallis on August 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Great post, Janet! My favorite tip is to “set boundaries, don’t blur them”! For many of my clients, I find when they set work hours, they are so much more productive. Especially in regards to setting an “end” to the work day . . . w/o an end, the tendency is to flit from activity to activity (some work related, some home related) thinking you still have tons of time . . . yet . . . 9 or 10 pm arrives and the #1 priority of the day still wasn’t accomplished. When they set a start and end time – then they tend to plan out their attack.

    Loved this!


    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Excellent advice, Lisa! It’s a good thing for me that my husband is a stickler for having dinner at a set time, or I’m sure there would be many days I’d try to squeeze in “just one more thing” that would end up taking much longer than I expected. And since my business has been my full-time job, I keep my evenings for personal activities, unless I have a speaking engagement, networking event, or an impossible deadline to meet.

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