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6 Ways to Work From Home (& Actually Get Things Done!)

Whether it’s a freelance job or a remote internship, or you’re just trying to get a bit of studying done, working from home sounds like a dream come true—that is, until you actually try to get things done. While working from home sounds easy in theory, avoiding distractions (Roommates! Netflix! Facebook!) can be a struggle. Need some help staying focused and motivated? We’ve got you!

1. Set up your workspace

It may seem obvious, but the easiest way to actually get things done at home? Make your space feel a little less, well, home-y—meaning doing work in bed is probably not the best idea. Ally Meyerowitz, a junior collegiette at San Diego State University, says a desk makes all the difference when it comes to her work as the editor-in-chief of The Odyssey at SDSU.

“I would suggest sitting upright at a desk because if you work in your bed you are just going to be tempted to fall asleep and not do any of your work,” Ally says.

Just because you’re at a desk doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your workspace! Taylor Carson, a Her Campus intern who works remotely, says that creating a comfortable and inspiring workspace is the key to her success.

“Set up a space in your house that is perfect for you,” Taylor says. “For me, this is my bedroom, where I designate a whole corner of the room to my desk and workspace. I also recommend decorating the space with things that motivate you. I have one of my articles framed on my desk.”

Decorate your space in a way that will make you want to spend time there. Whether you put up inspirational wall art, invest in a coffee machine to have at your desk or even get some cute plants to put on it, having an organized, pleasant workspace will make focusing and actually getting things done so much easier.

Related: 8 Things You Should Never Do at Work

2. Look professional, feel professional

That whole thing about making sure to leave your bed? That includes taking off your pajamas and getting dressed for the day. We know, we know—but Erica Maybaum, a collegiette who interns remotely with financial company Fiserv, says dressing the part is the easiest way for her to get into a productive mindset.

“As odd as it sounds, my biggest tip is to get dressed as if you are heading to a casual day in the office!” Erica says. “I find that if I roll out of bed and start working in my pajamas, I never really get into that ‘workday mindset’ and end up getting nothing done.”

Feeling ready to take on the day doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pull out the business casual wardrobe—no need for pencil skirts, blazers and heels here! However, when working from home, try getting up, showering and getting dressed for the day like you normally would. When you look put-together, you’ll feel more put-together.

3. Get out of the house

Sometimes, successfully working from home means actually leaving home. Erica says that having an alternative location to go to in case your home is too full of distractions is always a good idea. 

“Another tip I have is to go to a coffee shop or a library and work from there instead of home,” Erica says. “It keeps me from wanting to go on Facebook or to make something in the kitchen, and sometimes it’s nice to just get out of my ‘home office.’”

Places like coffee shops or a library, if you’re on campus, are great to head to if your roommate wants to have friends over or you’re having trouble keeping off Netflix. Plus, who doesn’t love a little caffeine to fuel a productive day?

4. Unplug

We’ve all had the experience of sitting down to start a paper or get some studying done, only to find ourselves Facebook-stalking our exes or browsing our favorite online shop. Iris Goldsztajn, a senior at the University of California—Los Angeles, uses an app to keep distractions at bay.

“I use this app called Self Control for Mac!” Iris says. “You can create a blacklist of websites to block, and it will block them for the amount of time you want. Then you literally can’t open any of those sites, even if you restart your computer.”

If you find yourself constantly pinning away on Pinterest or scrolling through Tumblr to procrastinate getting work done, consider downloading an app like Self Control to keep yourself in check.

Can’t stop checking Instagram on your phone? Keep any technology (aside from your computer, of course!) out of sight, out of mind by turning it on silent and placing it in a drawer across the room from you or even by asking a friend to keep it from you until you finish your work!

5. Musical motivation

If music doesn’t distract you, consider turning some of your favorite tunes on as background noise to keep you focused. Ally says classical music especially helps her avoid getting off task.  

“I like to play classical music in the background as well when I’m in my room,” Ally says. “If you need a little music, this is definitely the trick. The music will really help you focus and stay focused and it’s also very relaxing.”

A major bonus about working from home is that you can play whatever your music of choice is to motivate yourself and make the weekday grind a little more enjoyable. Spotify has plenty of productivity playlists (yes, it’s a thing!), which are the perfect way to soundtrack a long workday.

6. Give yourself a break

Last, but certainly not least, make sure to avoid burnout. Ally says that sometimes, planning a time to step away from working for a few minutes and recharge is the best motivation.

“Allow yourself to have breaks,” Ally says. “Since I’m in charge of editing all of the articles on my team, I tell myself, ‘If I edit X amount of articles, then I can take a 5 to 10 minute break of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and get a snack if needed.’ It helps you stay focused so you don’t get fidgety and uneasy while working.”

When you’re busy #GirlBoss-ing it all day at your desk, it can be easy to lose track of time and spend hours working. Whether you grab some coffee or lunch or respond to texts from friends, make sure to get up and take breaks every now and then! You might be surprised by how refreshed you feel when you come back to your desk after allowing yourself 5 to 10 minutes of “me-time.”

Like with anything else, the more you work from home, the better you’ll be at it! Once you learn what works and doesn’t work for you when it comes to staying focused, you’ll be a productivity queen in no time! 

Caroline is the Evening/Weekend Editor and Style Editor at Her Campus, a senior public relations major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leather jacket enthusiast.  You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @c_pirozzolo.