6 secrets to successfully working from home

In a couple of months it will have been two years since I started this blog and a year since I started working on it full-time from home. Going from having thirty hyperactive bodies in a room as a teacher to just me at home alone all day was quite an adjustment, but I’ve learned a few lessons along the way…

6 secrets to successfully working from home | Alexandra Elise Photography | Read more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/6-secrets-successfully-working-home/


While working in your PJs is really fun for the first few weeks (or months…) once the thrill has worn off, get yourself dressed for work in the morning. Not office clothes but something you feel good in. Something you can leave the house in, something chic you can video chat to clients in or meet someone for a quick lunch, coffee, or happy hour in.


Working from home full-time is lonely. If you don’t already have a pet, get one. Getting a dog will force you out of the chair and into the fresh air or a cat will keep you smiling with his antics. Just having another living being in the household with you really helps.

6 secrets to successfully working from home | Alexandra Elise Photography | Read more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/6-secrets-successfully-working-home/ 6 secrets to successfully working from home | Alexandra Elise Photography | Read more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/6-secrets-successfully-working-home/ 6 secrets to successfully working from home | Alexandra Elise Photography | Read more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/6-secrets-successfully-working-home/


This cube is genius. You can set it to go off at certain intervals of time just by turning it. Once it beeps you’ll know to switch to another task. I use it all the time when working on inspiration boards. If that beeper didn’t go off after thirty minutes I’d spend another two hours on Pinterest looking for a ‘more perfect’ picture.


When it’s time to get down to it, close those social media tabs. It’s hard, but it works.

“Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, found that a typical office worker takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption.” – via The New York Times

Why is that? Well, once a social media notification interrupts the task at hand you’ll decide it’s also a good time to check your email, respond to a tweet, see what’s up on Instagram etc. It’s a downward spiral.

6 secrets to successfully working from home | Alexandra Elise Photography | Read more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/6-secrets-successfully-working-home/


Otherwise you will become a friendless hermit. This is also why it’s important to follow #1 and dress yourself in the morning. If you’re already publicly presentable, you’ll be more likely to say yes to a last-minute happy hour session with your girlfriends. If you’re still sitting there in your PJs at 4pm you won’t.

6 secrets to successfully working from home | Alexandra Elise Photography | Read more on http://burnettsboards.com/2014/01/6-secrets-successfully-working-home/


Let me explain this. Because working from home can be so lonesome and there’s nobody there to celebrate your little victories with you – you’ll start rewarding yourself with something. When I first started working from home that was with cupcakes.

Fast-forward a year and now I totally regret those tasty treats.

Reward yourself instead with a Pinterest session or 20 minutes with a new novel you’re loving. Poetry is my new favorite reward. They’re bite-sized, almost as delicious as cupcakes, and rejuvenate my creativity. After a thirty minutes of answering emails I always give myself a poem (most recently from this collection).


YOUR TURN: what tips do you have for working from home? I’d love to get a few more tricks up my sleeve.

I’d like to give a big mahalo to Alexandra Elise Photography for sending these images to accompany this post. Be sure to check out more of her features here!

About Sara Burnett

Editor of Burnett's Boards, which she founded to showcase global creativity in the wedding industry. Sara currently lives out of a suitcase while island hopping the Caribbean and beyond. Learn More // Follow on Instagram.


  1. Amazing advice. Gotsta get me one of them cubes!!

  2. I started working from home a little more than two years ago. I used to have the city and a large social circle when I lived in San Fran, but now I live in the ‘burbs and don’t know anyone in the area, so becoming a disheveled recluse is an ever more looming possibility. I take breaks by going on long runs and doing volunteer work at the library. I definitely miss my old office buddies sometimes.

    I reward myself with cheese and online shopping. I’m going to have to do something about that. Poetry is an excellent alternative.

  3. The biggest lesson I learned working from home is to build in meaningful breaks and downtime. I am so addicted to the computer that, left to my own devices, I’ll sit in front of it for 16 hours. I don’t eat properly; I don;t go to the bathroom when I’m supposed to; I don’t get enough exercise, and I end up feeling like shit.

    So I build in a 2-4 hour break in the middle of my day. For example, I’ll work from 4am to 8am and then ski for 2-3 hours, or hike, or mountain bike, or whatever.

    It’s kind of like your reward tip, but bigger 🙂 Taking large midday breaks has kept me focused, inspired more creativity, and saved my marriage 🙂

  4. LOVE THIS post so much. And I am going to Amazon RIGHT NOW to order this cube. Thanks!!

  5. Amen amen amen! Great tips… and such great reminders too!

  6. Great tips. I need to get myself that cube too!

  7. Great tips. I so miss being able to work and fit in breaks. Now my work is fit into the morning nap (when it happens) and after bedtime. Life has been amazing with 2 wonderful daughters but there are days, like today, that I really miss being able to work a regular schedule and have phone chats.

  8. Really great tips! I keep promising myself that I’ll make a to-do list everyday, write up a solid schedule, fit some exercise in, call up my girlfriends, etc. Then the week comes and goes and I’m still stuck in bad habits! I do try to take some breaks but I know I’m not getting enough sleep! I will definitely try to get it together with some of these ideas! Thanks!

  9. Seriously wonderful tips and what gorgeous photography… thanks so much for posting! Hopefully by August I will need to put ALL these tips to use 😉

  10. Awesome advice! Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Drink water. It helps clear your mind and your eyes (for all that looking at the computer you’ll be doing).

  12. Yes! Definitely adopt a coworker – there’s nothing better!

  13. These are great tips! I too am going to find that Cube.

    For me, I struggle with number 1 because it’s just so easy to roll out of bed and go to work. But I need to get better at making myself more presentable. I always feel like I work better when I do.

    I also feel better when I get out of the house and take a walk, mid-day. It refreshes me for the afternoon. And taking lots of little breaks, to take Quinley outside, helps me as well. When I do…I always bring the book I’m reading which helps me “escape” for a little bit every few hours, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

    Another great tip is to connect with others who work from home as well. Message with them on Facebook or Twitter or Text. I’ve found these virtual “water-cooler” chats actually make me feel like I’m not really working alone 🙂

  14. Great tips, Sara! I definitely need a cube to keep me on task! I love the poetry idea. I’m promising myself to read a chapter or two of a great book instead of taking a break and mindlessly still playing on the computer with things or doing laundry. I always find visiting other blogs helps me feel like I have coworkers!

  15. Great post! So many good tips! I’m SO not good at routine, so I never have set tasks, and like most bloggers can easily sit at my desk for far too long – but definitely having a pup helps that. Her whining at me is a great way to get me off my chair. And I’ve just started back with a personal trainer so it’s an appointment I can’t miss… without that I’d sit in my workout gear all day and tell myself I’ll get it done by the end of the day – and we all know that’s not happening!

  16. Great advice Sara! I will definitely share this one with our students 🙂
    I find the best thing for me is to create a To Do List at the beginning of each day as it keeps me on track. I also make sure I plan some form of exercise during the day as it stimulates me and seems to make me more productive 🙂

  17. I thought I was doing O.K. until I really looked at myself. I was driving to downtown Charleston at 9 a.m. in pink striped cotton lounge pants, a pleated wool peacoat, and cowgirl boots with bows on the sides. I basically end up in the wardrobe of the most modern (and awful) lady-circus-ring-leader ever to hit the streets!

    I’ve wanted to read this ALL WEEK. I just have to start scheduling so that I’m not actually pinning at midnight or posting at 6 a.m., but it’s so hard to think that social media works (somewhat) without me! xoxo

  18. Gotta get that cube! Also, I agree with #2 -having two dogs that need walks helps me get dressed and out of the house. And, it’s great exercise!

  19. What a great reminder! Another tip is to stay active!! Working from home it is so easy to through on some gym clothes and go for a run. I usually run up to Squaw and take a few laps for my lunch break. Feels so great to have that option.

  20. I start my day with a yoga session and then my working hours are from 9am – 7pm, before and after those hours I don’t do anything to do with work, not even check my emails. My stress level went down so much. I also found using a VA to do the tasks I hate also works, if I’m doing the stuff I like I enjoy my day more but as soon as I have to do a task I don’t like, my day goes down the drain and that is where my VA comes in. If anyone would like to use a VA I highly recommend using this http://www.vaplacements.com.

  21. Oh I love and agree with all of these! my dog Ollie is my constant work mate. He’s usually by my feet (or more likely on them) when I’m working at my desk, or at my side when I work on the couch. I find changing where I’m working helpful. Sometimes I’m at my desk, then a couple hours later I do a little work on the couch, then some standing, then some at the kitchen table. I find moving around helpful to make me feel like I’m not stuck at my desk. And I try and vary my tasks. If I’m getting stuck on something instead of taking a break to do social media (which I don’t always find gets me going or refreshed) I go and wash a couple of dishes or walk around the house putting away things etc. Taking my mind off and coming back is refreshing because really how many of us take real breaks right?

  22. That cube is brilliant! I work in a law office in the morning, which forces me up and out, and then I blog from home every afternoon – and though I wish I could blog more, I truthfully love the balance. It keeps me sane.

  23. Ok, So…
    #1 Getting dressed in the am, you’re so right about that…If I don’t put on my workout clothes first thing, I will not go for my much needed walk at 1 pm eastern 🙂
    #2. I reward myself by jumping on my hubby while he is still in bed.(seriously jumping)..He works overnight! The funny thing is that he is so supportive even when I wake him out his sleep, ha!
    #3. I try to take (fake) lunch breaks or coffee breaks…Man, I’ll go the entire day without eating it’s crazy! (still working on this one)
    #4. I had my son at 15 years old, and now he’s 19 (so he’s never around nor does he pay me any attention)…I have no more babies, my hubby hates pets, we have fish (boring) and my Co-founder is a radio DJ on FM radio mon-fri, plus my staff works remote 🙁 I’m a lonely camper! Help me Sara! ha-ha!
    #5 As for the timer I will grab it (much needed) using my Note 3 right now-constantly ignoring it when it goes off-
    #6 What gives me a lift is my FAVE audio books The Secret, Hero and The Power, so inspiring, have you read it?
    #7. I find myself constantly posting long comments on your blog…I never do that, ha!

    Thanks for this post Sara really helps! xoxo

  24. Absolutely great advice! I am not working from home full-time yet, but this has been my dream for the last 5 years to work somewhere in Costa Rica while watching the sunset. Ahh(:
    Do you have any help, I mean a team of virtual assistants? Or do you do everything yourself?

    Best Regards,