I’ve been working from home full time now for nearly five months. It is what I’ve always wanted. Working from home gives me a chance to set my own schedule, be my own boss and be home for my kids. What I didn’t really count on was how hard it is to stay focused and get all of the things accomplished that need to be each day.
Working from home means that I have time for all of the things that were being pushed aside while working outside of the home, right? I should have more time for things like home made dinners, cleaning the house, and ugh…exercise!!
What I’ve learned is that working from home is actually hard, real hard. Amazingly awesome and fulfilling, but hard. In the corporate world, the biggest distractions are bosses and co-workers. Other people dropping by your desk to chat or ask about projects and such. But at home, it is me, all me. There’s no obligation to anyone else to get things done, and no one else making sure I stay on task. There is no one to impress, heck I don’t even have to wear pants if I don’t want to. Of course, why wouldn’t I when I have stacks of leggings in my house, but I digress.
I tried adding more hours to the day, but that didn’t work out. So, my answer has been to find ways to be more productive and focused.
Here are my top 10 tips for being more productive when working from home:
1. Get up, and get ready for the day as if you are going to the office.
If I take the kids to school in my PJs then try to sit down and work, I find that I’m not as productive. I settle into weekend mode and not work mode. Getting up and getting ready for the day just as I would if I were going to an office helps me get into the right frame of mind and as a result, be more productive.
2. Find the time of day YOU are most productive and maximize it.
A lot of people say, “get up early”. Well, that only works if you are a morning person. For me afternoon and late night are my most productive times. So, I tend to do non-work related things in the morning then work like crazy until the kids get home from school. Then, I work like crazy again after they are in bed. That’s what works for ME. If you’re an early bird, by all means utilize those early morning hours!
3. Give yourself a carrot.
Not literally, well, unless you REALLY like carrots. I like to set little mini-sessions for myself. Little goals I suppose. Work on this “thing” for 20 minutes and then you get to take a break. Write this blog post, then you can go get a piece of chocolate. That sort of thing! Any time I stray from the task I remind myself of the prize.
4. Along with the carrot…set a timer.
Anytime I set a mini-goal I like to use a timer to help me stay focused. Even better, make it your laundry. Put in a load and work like mad until the load finishes washing, then again until it is dry. Sometimes I challenge myself with the timer. Last time I got this many photos taken in 20 minutes, let me see if I can beat that. No, I’m not competitive, why do you ask?
5. Prepare meals the night before.
This sort of goes along with acting as if you are going into the office. Have meals ready to go, so you don’t have to use your work time to prep.
6. Have theme days.
If you always do paperwork on Mondays, Social Media tasks on Tuesdays, Photos on Wednesdays….or whatever, you don’t have to think too much about your to do list. Theme days help you stay organized, focused and on task.
7. Set your hours and stick to them. Designate a quitting time.
It is really easy to let work take over your whole life when you live and work in the same place. It is important to set hours that are work time and hours that are family time and stick to it.
8. Make it hard to reach Social Media.
Oh Social Media, how I love/hate you. The biggest time suckers in my life…Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Take the Social Media apps off of your phone and out of your bookmarks on your computer. If it isn’t staring at you, taunting you, it isn’t as tempting to click it. This is a little harder if you use Social Media for your business of course. But, set times that are for working on Social Media for your business then shut it all down.
9. Work at a desk, not the couch.
My favorite place to plop down with my laptop is the couch. Not the smartest idea though. I find that I tend to stray from my task when I try to work on the couch versus the office. If at all possible set up an office or a corner of a room that is designated work space.
10. See other humans.
This is especially useful if you are a natural extrovert. Just going somewhere where there are other humans and working there is often enough to get you motivated to get things done. Sometimes, heading to the local coffee shop that has free wi-fi is the answer. I mean coffee, too…humans and coffee.
How about you? What are your top tips for being productive when you work from home?