An estimated two in five UK small and medium-sized companies are run from home, according to research by Barclays.

It can be a winning arrangement for business owners who don’t want to commute and can’t afford an office or co-working space. But productivity will always be the big challenge, says James McElroy, who launched his pet sitting service, HouseMyDog, from home. “I used to go between rooms and be distracted by cleaning and housework,” recalls the co-founder. “I just couldn’t zone it out.”

The entrepreneur fixed the issue by limiting his breaks and dedicating a corner of his living room just for work. “The appeal of being a so-called ‘homepreneur’ is that you can work anywhere, but if your environment changes all the time and overlaps with your home life, you won’t be in the right state of mind.”

Another difficulty was starting each day productively, which McElroy met by simply spending a few minutes each evening to write a list of three tasks for the morning after. “You sit down at your desk knowing precisely what you should be doing, instead of wasting valuable time planning and procrastinating.”

Air time

Stuart Brooks, founder of Blackbird Comms, often starts his day with a walk around the local park. “Fresh air can really invigorate you and spark new solutions to things,” says the marketing firm founder, who also gets out for regular catch-ups and meetings. “Chatting with like-minded professionals over a coffee will help to generate new ideas and is so important for mental wellbeing.”

Brooks has also dedicated a room (his garage) just for work, but warns against it becoming a prison. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of working 16-hour days, not pausing for breaks and eating at your desk,” he says. “Long hours don’t make you more productive; it’s about making the chosen ones count.”

McElroy suggests implementing set working hours, just like an office, while Brooks recommends being strict with sleep. “If I don’t get at least seven hours, my energy deteriorates.”

Into focus

Working in short intervals through the “Pomodoro” technique helps McElroy to refocus after an interruption. “Set a timer and commit to 25 minutes with 100pc focus – then take a five-minute break and start again,” he explains. “After one or two cycles, you’ll be back in the flow.”

Lucy Smith, who runs her gifts business, Postcards Home, from home, warns against doing work in your pyjamas. “Get dressed and put a pair of shoes on every morning,” she says. “Feeling professional will positively affect your mood and put you in the right frame of mind.”

This article was originally published in: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/