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I program from home. What can I do to be more productive?

What about if your office is your home? I'm not talking about a self-employed devoloper. I'm talking about been hired and work from your home.

Do you have some tips for been focus on work?


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marked as duplicate by Michael K, Josh K, Walter Jan 24 '11 at 21:06

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

freakily I was just thinking about asking this very question a few minutes ago. –  LRE Jan 24 '11 at 19:36
This is really a duplicate of programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/257 –  Walter Jan 24 '11 at 19:38
Can this question be merged with the other ? –  user2567 Jan 24 '11 at 21:20

12 Answers 12

Have a separate room as an office that you use only for work. It helps delineate work and home.

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+1 I can't work at home without this. –  Pawka Jan 24 '11 at 19:14
+1, though I often find myself in that room to do other stuff as I'm most comfortable in there. –  LRE Jan 24 '11 at 19:37
If this is not possible (even temporarily), try to explicitly isolate yourself from the rest of home (wear headphones, etc) and tell people around you that you've gone to work, you're not at home now. –  9000 Jan 24 '11 at 20:55

Here are few recommandations:

  • Use same schedule as you were in a formal office. You will be tempted to work late. Don't do that.
  • Replace commuting by physical excercises or meditation.
  • Since you don't have your environment anymore to remind you it's time to take a pause, use the pomodoro technique.
  • If you feel you are procrastinating too much, solve that problem before continuing.
  • Social interactions are very importants. Try to do at least one lunch a week with another person. Even if not with someone else, try to go outside at noon.
  • There must be a clear limit between your work and your normal life. This means you have a dedicated office/room you don't use for your pleasure but only work.
  • Working at home is not a good idea when you have kids. Be sure to think about it.
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I work at home with kids and it' ok; but my wife does take care of them during the day. They have one level and I have the basement :) –  LWoodyiii Jan 24 '11 at 20:19
My son is a little (wonderful) devil. –  user2567 Jan 24 '11 at 20:37
+1 I agree -- great list. But I'd also add that if you have the flexibility to choose your work hours, do so, but keep track of your time so you don't work all hours and knock your life out of balance. Even have a family member help you track your time in the office, if you lose yourself in the work. –  Mark Freedman Jan 24 '11 at 20:50


You would also benefit from:

  1. A silent office space
  2. Bigger monitors with anti-glare
  3. Secure and periodic backup of your data
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+1 On the Internet connection and secure (and automated) backups. Also, if you can afford it, consider a backup Internet connection, especially if your company is willing to allow you to expense your main line. When I worked at home a lot, I had both a cable and DSL line. Saved my skin numerous times. Worth the flexibility of working from home and offset the gas savings. –  Mark Freedman Jan 24 '11 at 20:54

On days that you are working from home, treat it in all other respects as a day that you are going to the office. Get up at your normal time, do you normal morning routine, and dress as you would when going to the office.

If you slack off on these simple things, you may find that you start slacking in other areas.

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Develop a routine and stick to it. Get up and the same time, eat breakfast, work, take your breaks the importance is in consistency.

Also if you are the only one or very few with this arrangement understand that you probably will be under greater scrutiny. Therefore I would make sure you are readily available to those in the office if needed and make sure there is no possible appearance of "slacking off". Not insinuating that you would be by any means, just saying don't give anyone the slightest opportunity to make that claim.

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If you can with your position, get out and go work at a coffee shop or somewhere occasionally. It's very very easy to become a hermit when working remote, and even just working in the same room as some other people will help to make you feel connected to the world outside your home.

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+1 for the hermit comment. And that's just the start. It becomes very easy to say things like "I can shower later". –  LRE Jan 24 '11 at 19:41
+1 Great idea, but make sure you can secure your connection since most public places have very insecure wireless access by default. –  Mark Freedman Jan 24 '11 at 20:56
@Mark - Great point! I use a personal access point so I don't have to worry about security or sharing bandwidth, but if you use public access points, try and get in using a VPN –  Jesse McCulloch Jan 24 '11 at 20:59

I've been working from home out of necessity for the better part of the last five years. With that, I have found the following to be very helpful.

  1. Make time to get some physical activity each day. It helps.
  2. Make time to see and talk to people (co-workers too).
  3. If there are others in your home, make clear to them that during designated work hours, you are to be considered "at the office working", and NOT at their immediate disposal.
  4. Ensure your manager and other co-workers knows what you are doing, and that they value your work. Being remote to them makes it easier for them to forget/overlook that.

Hope this helps.

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+1 for point #3. Don't know how many times my wife has just tried to "pop-in" and ask me to do something :) –  LWoodyiii Jan 24 '11 at 20:23
Yep, @LWoodyiii, but sometimes those pop-ins can be a good time for a needed break, especially if you find yourself the overworker. –  Mark Freedman Jan 24 '11 at 20:58

If you have external clients, see them as often as you can justify. It helps with the cabin fever.

Also, try to convince your employer to send you off to meet other staff at their offices from time to time.

The short version: you need to spend time in the presence of other humans.

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Sounds simple, but a smart phone to route all communications (e-mail, phone, etc.) is absolutely vital so you are not tethered to your home office.

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Create your work hours and don't let anybody interfere you. Turn off your phone, email, instant messengers. Also as @John Straka said, separate room is most important.

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You may want to get permission to set your own hours; it's not a given in many companies. –  JeffO Jan 24 '11 at 20:42
The fact you are working at home implies your more then likely setting your own hours. As long as the work gets done. Clearly there are limits to this, if working at home means being offset by 12 hours, then you will create more problems then solve. –  Ramhound Aug 26 '11 at 15:17

In all of the cases I had to do this, I was the only company employee working from home, so you have to take some extra precautions. People at the home office will joke and ask if you're in your bathrobe watching TV. They'll get over it as you demonstrate an ability to get things done for them.

Make sure everyone is aware of any time difference due to time zone and/or a flexible schedule. They won't always get this right at first. Expect calls at some strange times but remind them you are on a different schedule.

If you're not doing it already, get use to not printing things out to paper. Sometimes this gets too convenient when you have the super laser copier in the office. The photo inkjet home printer is slower and much more expensive (If it weren't for airplane boarding passes, I'd get rid of mine.).

Beware of the temptation to take on too many home duties/chores/honey do's etc. You may have saved time off of your commute, but now you'll have to make a special trip to the cleaners instead of just stopping after work. There still are weekends.

Keep up the communication and let people know where things stand. You don't have all those little meetings around the coffee pot. Take the time to call people up and ask how they are doing to maintain the social goodwill you built up. And if you didn't build any, get started. If you have a problem with your pay check, you want the payroll people to recognize that it is a human being that needs their money to pay bills and not some 'computer guy' they've never met.

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Make sure you have a good internet connection and communication devices to help people from the work place to contact you.

Also make sure to sit breaks like every 3 hours and leave the room for 30 minutes just like in the office.

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