How to Stay Crazy Productive When Working From Home
Anyone who has ever worked from home has had that embarrassing moment when the UPS driver rings the doorbell at 3 pm, and you are still in your pajamas, eating Doritos for lunch.
The fact is, working from home is a blessing. But it also presents its challenges. Without the structure of an office, many of us are susceptible to falling motivation and productivity.
Luckily, there are some super simple ways to stay productive when working from home.
7 Tips To Stay Productive Working From Home
1 – Start Your Day Right
People new to the work-at-home life might feel like a significant perk is getting to hang out in sweatpants all day. But over time, how we look on the outside starts to impact how we really feel about ourselves and our work.
Start your day with a shower, a fresh set of clothes, and a healthy breakfast. You certainly don’t need to be in a suit, but let’s shoot for, “I could run to the grocery store without feeling like a slob.” Then settle in to kick off your routine energized and focused.
2 – Know Your Most Productive Hours
We all have a natural rhythm to our days and our work. Maybe you work best early in the morning, right before lunch, or late at night. Figure out what works for you and build your schedule around it. One of the best parts of working from home is flexibility. Make it work for you!
For me, trial and error have shown that I am most productive from around 8:30 in the morning until mid-afternoon. By 2:30, I know my son is awake from his nap, and I want to spend some time with him. So, I shut it down, enjoy some family time, and finish my day once he is in bed. I still get my 8-9 hours a day, but I’m not trying to force it when my mind would rather be doing something else.
3 – Have a Game Plan
Whatever you do, don’t fall for the temptation just to take each day as it comes. Sitting down at your laptop in the morning and tackling your email at random will almost certainly mean spending time on things that don’t matter or have a low return on investment.
Finish each day by creating a to-do list for the next day. This will let you jump in full speed when you are most productive. If you need a way to organize your tasks, I love the app Todoist. It allows you to prioritize each task 1-4 and encourages you to do the big things first.
4 – Defend Your Workday
Working from home is becoming a much more common practice, but friends and family still often forget that it means you are actually working. Communicate your working hours loud and clear to those in your life. Sorry, you can’t pick up their kid from soccer practice or grab coffee at 10 am.
This is particularly hard for some parents with young kids who are trying to be the full-time childcare provider while working from home. If this is you, defining and defending your workday is even more critical. Just remember that “no” isn’t a dirty word! (And your kids won’t be ruined by watching Lion King when you have a deadline!)
5 – Find a Backup Workspace
Whether you are trying to work from home with your kids and spouse or going stir crazy sitting by yourself all day long, you are going to need a backup workspace sometimes. The change of scenery is good for creativity and can kick your brain into high gear.
Test out a few places and discover what works for you. For many people, a busy coffee shop is actually a nice change of pace from a quiet home office.
Alternatively, I’ve learned that my best backup workspace is actually the local library. My house is far from silent thanks to the two-year-old who likes to poke his head into the office and inform me, “Mama is working!” Thus, two days a week, at least, I head to the library and put in five to six super productive hours. And when I’m in a time crunch, I know the best place for me to set up shop.
6 – Silence Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Google chat, Snapchat, and on and on. If we let every alert and phone buzz distract us, we would never get anything done. It is a complete black hole. When you sit down to work, be sure to shut down anything not work-related. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and log out of all social media on your laptop. There is nothing there that is really that urgent.
If you absolutely can’t stay away all day, build a set time into your schedule. Allow yourself 15 to 20 minutes to check-in and then get back to work. Be sure to set an alarm for when your time is up, however. Otherwise, your short break could last all day.
7 – When You’re Done, Be Done
One of the dangers of working from home is that your personal life leaks into your work life, and vice versa. Your spouse thinks you’re always distracted. You find it hard to sleep because you’ve been working in your bedroom.
When you are outside your defined work hours, be done. Shut down your computer, silence your work email on your phone, and leave your to-do list for tomorrow. I promise, working around the clock will only burn you out. Taking your time for family and friends will let you start energized and refreshed when it is time to get to work again!
Time is Money. Make the Most of Yours.
It may seem fun to fit an afternoon movie date with friends into your Tuesday schedule. Or to watch the most recent Game of Thrones episode while you answer emails. But these choices make us less productive, which means stretching our work time over more hours. And for entrepreneurs, being distracted during work means bringing in fewer dollars.
So, treat your work-at-home job like what it is. A job. Implement these easy strategies to maximize productivity. Then bring in the big bucks and get back to the things you love!
How To Get Started Working From Home
Thank you for taking the time to read these 7 tips on staying as productive as possible when working from home. If you’re not already a member of the work from home workforce, make sure to check out these helpful links:
Do you have any tips for staying productive when working from home? We’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below!