Working from home is fantastic.
I make my own hours (most of them…the kids make the rest). I decide when I take time off. If I’m late, no one yells at me. And getting stuff accomplished while still wearing my fluffy robe is absolutely awesome. Unfortunately, there is a giant sand trap: productivity. People ask how I stay productive working from home and, for a while, I had to say, “Yeah…I really don’t.” Several times a week I would get a bad case of the lazies. I’ve had nine years to try out all kinds of motivational strategies and I’ve finally found 7 core practices that work for me.
HOW I STAY PRODUCTIVE
WORKING FROM HOME
1. PLAN A MONTH IN ADVANCE & WORK A WEEK IN ADVANCE – Have you ever noticed there are thousands of free printable planners available online? That’s because they work. If you don’t know what you’re doing before you do it, you’re guaranteed to get behind. I always plan my work calendar a month at a time and try my best to prepare my work a week in advance. Life happens, so you will need to change that schedule up several times before you’re done. But, better to adapt than be run over.
2. HAVE A DEDICATED WORK SPACE – For the first several years of blogging, I worked in a common room of the house. First the living room, then an open side room. Even though I had a desk, storage, and other designated “office” items – everyone else came walking in and out, all day, distracting me. I could hear the television and when other family members took phone calls, or played, or grabbed lunch in the kitchen. Now, I have a dedicated office, upstairs and away from noise and foot traffic. My productivity and rate of completion has more than doubled.
Not everyone has an empty room sitting around that they can convert into an office. If you lack space, create your own. Hang a curtain or put up a room divider. Put on headphones and listen to classical music while you work. Plan your work day when your family members are typically busy with something else. Do your kids only get video game time from 4 – 6? That’s two hours they’ll be too occupied to bother you.
Tools That Will Help:
3. LOCK UP FACEBOOK – Or Pinterest, or Netflix, or whichever site is your online black hole. If you find yourself spending more than 5 minutes on a site, and it has nothing to do with getting your work done, lock it up. You can use an online program that stops you from logging in or even shut down your account all together. I’ve taken complete hiatus periods away from Facebook more than once. My longest was 75 days. And guess what – the result was awesome. If you need to access a Facebook page as part of your daily work, switch to using the Pages app on your phone or use a browser extension to blank out the newsfeed.
4. HATE IT? DO IT FIRST – We all have tasks that we despise. It could be returning phone calls, editing, or scanning through your spam folder. Whatever that boring, arduous task is for you – get it done first. Dreading a task all day can not only put you in a funk, but it will slow you down because you know once you’re done with everything else, it’s time for…that. If you complete it and get it out of the way, you won’t have it to deal with later.
5. MAKE YOUR PLANS & TASKS VISUAL – If you are an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of procrastinator (Hi, that’s me!) then you need to keep your job right in your face. Literally. Ok, maybe not IN your face, but in front of it. All day, every day. Sticky notes, a bulletin board, and dry erase boards are the perfect way to keep your important task front and center where you can see them.
Tools That Will Help (the exact ones I use in my own office) :
Bulletin Board / Dry Erase Board / Wall File Basket + How To Turn Your Dry Erase Board Into A Washi Tape Calendar
6. BREAK TIME = MOVE TIME – Even if you can grab coffee or a snack any time you want when you work from home, it’s still important to set specific break times. But, if you use that time to lay on the couch or catch up on a tv show – you’re mind will go into hibernation mode. The goal is to move. Do things that loosen you up (both mentally and physically) but also energize you. Walk through the house, do stretching exercises (increasing blood flow wakes up the brain), or step outside and take in the sunshine and fresh air.
7. STICK TO YOUR WORK SCHEDULE & MAKE EVERYONE ELSE RESPECT IT TOO – Set hours for yourself. I drop my son off at 8:30 and I know I don’t like to rush through my first cup of coffee, so my day starts at 9:00 sharp. I break from 2:00 – 2:30 pm, and then I shut down and clean up my desk at 5:00. On the days I deviate from that (by choice) I notice a distinct difference in my level of motivation. Equally important: Once you’ve set your work hours, let your friends and family know they need to respect them. No calls (“Mom, it IS a real job. No, I CAN’T just take the day off”). No texts. No heads popping into your space to chat. No calling for mom unless there is blood, poop, or a rabid animal involved.
Tools That Will Help: Willpower. You respect their schedules, so they need to respect yours.
Ultimately, the worst enemy to your daily accomplishments is your own resolve. You have to determine to complete your tasks and not let things distract you. If you aren’t serious about making the most of your time, no program or tip is going to force it.