6 Tips for Keeping Your Business on Track While Working From Home

by | BiggerPockets.com

One of the hardest parts of running a home business, whether you are a real estate investor or in an entirely different business, is separating your work from your home life, family and friends. I believe this is especially true for women entrepreneurs. It’s very tempting to do a load of laundry, fix dinner or start one of the other tasks around the house that needs to be done while you work on your business. But if you are to be successful in your business while working from home, there are some ground rules you need to follow.

6 Tips for Working on Your Business from Home

  1. Create a work schedule and stick to it!  It may be tempting to take personal calls during the day, but if you do people will expect you will “always be there for them” when they call. By the same token, try to return your business calls during business hours.
  2. Just because you have set up a work schedule, it doesn’t mean you need to work 9-5. This is one of the best parts of being your own boss. You can work those 8-10 hours whenever you want each day. 

    Early birds get up at the crack of dawn. Night owls may begin later in the day and stay up half the night. Maybe you want to work in the morning, take a break when the kids get home from school, then work some more in the evening.  That’s ok. It is your schedule and you get to choose the times when you are most productive to work.

  3. Your friends may consider “working from home” an invitation to chat or drop their kids off for an hour or two. Or, they may ask you to go shopping or for coffee in the afternoon. You will need to make it clear that these are your business hours and they are for business. After asking a time or two they will gradually understand that this is your work schedule and it is really no different than if you had an outside employer. If you agree to meet a friend for lunch, stick to your allotted time and get back to work on schedule.
  4. Real estate investors that are landlords have a saying that you need to “train your tenants”. What they mean by this is that you should let them know what you expect from them, and what they should expect from you. Spell out your procedures and your hours for doing business. Even if you are working at odd times, you should give the appearance to your tenants that you have regular office hours.

    If they figure out that they can call you for a minor problem at times other than regular business hours, guess what!  They will call you when it is convenient for them such as in the evening or on the weekend. Unless they have an urgent matter such as a furnace going out in the middle of the winter, their calls fall into two categories: “It can wait until the next business day” or “call 911”. It really is that simple.

  5. Have a separate business phone. It’s OK to use your cell phone so long as your voicemail has a professional message, and always answer the phone by stating your name.  Even though you are working from home, no one needs to know.  
  6. Have a separate home office if possible. When you are talking to clients the last thing you want your customer to hear is the kids, the TV or the dog barking. Having your own dedicated space will also help you to be more productive. If you don’t have the luxury of having a whole room to yourself, using a screen will give a visual separation from the other part of the room. Just because you work from home, this doesn’t make you less of a professional.

One last bit of advice.  Invest in the technology you need to get the job done. You may be working out of a tiny room in your home, but you can project the image to the world that you are a first class company. How the internet has changed the face of business!

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Sharon,

    Great advice. I find this is true for us part timers. When working full time, it’s especially important to stick to a schedule. If I don’t let folks know that during certain hours I am working, its amazing how quickly my time gets allotted for me. I fall behind very quickly when
    I’m not in charge of my time.


  2. I can definitely relate to #3 and #6!

    In my case, those who are home have a tendency to forget that I have to WORK from home. My wife suggests that I just go out and work at a coffee shop to avoid the noise and distractions.

    Our dog (which we all love, don’t get me wrong) also ends up barking most of the time when I am on the phone on a business call while working at home… sigh.

  3. Joe –

    Those two are really important, and perhaps the most difficult to master. If my dog happens to bark when I am on the phone I just “fess up” and apologize, and I tell the person I am working from home today. They don’t have to know I always work from home. That’s the main reason I have a UPS Mailboxes address. It shows up as an actual address instead of a PO Box.

  4. Great article! I work from home and find that I am constantly being distracted from my work. There is always housework that needs to be done and I also have two dogs so they keep me busy as well! But I love working from home and although some days may be less productive than others, I wouldn’t change a thing!

    • It’s always a challenge Natasha. Here’s how I do it. If I need to throw in a load of laundry, I will do it before my work day starts. Then I throw it in the dryer at lunch time. I haven’t taken any time out of my work hours that way. Same thing with cooking. I will put something in the slow cooker when I stop for lunch. Even if you don’t really take a lunch “hour”, you need a break so this is the perfect time give yourself permission to do those things.

      Overall, I try not to do things that aren’t work related during working hours. I am successful most of the time. At this time of year however, I just take some extra time to get ready for the holidays and don’t stres over it. That’s one of the perks of entrepreneurship.

  5. Well when I come from work, I go straight to my computer to work at my second job in a way, My misses who does the housework in the day while im at work, moans at me to this and that when everything is done anyway. So the point im making is its impossible to run a buisness from home especially when you have a very demanding wife who constantly is on my back about doing things that are not needed to be done. Im less stressed at my day job, maybe thats because im alone all day!

    • Stucco – I understand what you are saying, and I know what the solution is. Whether you can get her to do it or not is another matter.

      Is there some way she can be included in your business and begin to share your “vision and your dreams” so that she becomes interested in it? So that she feels like a part of that business?

      Right now she probably feels like you are spending all your time on something that doesn’t include her rather than spending time with her. Couples that can build a business together reap huge rewards, and it is so much less stressful.

      If you can’t do that, then how about choosing some days that you will work on your business and other days that you will spend only with the family. That might work for you. I’d be interested to hear how this goes in the upcoming months.

    • Josh. That is so funny. I’m guilty too.

      I just read your post while listening to Darren Hardy’s video on how you should stop doing EVERYTHING but the top 3 things on your list Quit reading articles online, visiting facebook etc. LOL.

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