Do you work at home? Here are 6 tips to stay productive
After five years, I’ve definitely figured out what works and what doesn’t in terms of being productive when I work at home.
I’ve figured out what gets me motivated and I’ve determined when it’s the best time for me to do particular tasks. I’m better at writing in the morning, emails are better in the afternoon and I know how not to let myself get sidetracked.
I know for a fact that I don’t deal with disruptions well and that I need LOTS of quiet and focus, with a little bit of relaxation music playing in the background.
I praise women who can work with children at home, it’s simply something I haven’t found productive. I am lucky that my son is in year one and my daughter in childcare. I admit to having looked forward to the end of holidays so my son can go back to school, my husband to work and my daughter to childcare; it’s at these times when my productivity is at an all-time low.
Since first starting my business using my untapped virtual assistant skills and then moving into content marketing, there have been challenging times. But, working from home is definitely rewarding. I would not have the flexibility I have if I worked in an office or for someone else, but the reward only comes with staying focused and productive.
When working from home, it’s so easy to let bad habits form. The kitchen, the laundry, the television…they’re all right there teasing you into switching them on, cleaning them, using them. So, I’ve put together some tips for those of you working from home and looking to improve productivity, and those of you considering whether working from home is for you.
1. Get out of your pyjamas
I see so many people who say they work at home in their pyjamas. I don’t think I can count on one finger the times I’ve done that. Why? Working in my pyjamas puts me in the wrong mindset and if I were to stay in my PJs, I’d feel like snuggling up on the couch and that’s BAD!
Instead, I’m a big believer in dressing as though I’m still going out to work or going to a meeting. I’m not talking corporate wear, but what I do do is change my mindset by boosting my confidence in 5 minutes flat by throwing on a nice smart casual outfit, I do my hair and I put on some bright lipstick.
2. Set yourself some boundaries
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re all of a sudden free to meet friends for coffee, clean the house or do the laundry. When will you get your work done? If you were working in an office, you wouldn’t have time to do this so working from home shouldn’t be any different. Focus on work first and then the personal stuff after your work is done. This is also why it’s so important to set yourself some work hours.
3. Set your work hours
Setting work hours means it’ll be easier to turn off and separate your work from personal life. Having set work hours also means it’s easier to plan, easier to allocate time for personal things and it’s easier to communicate to family and friends.
Stick your work hours up on the fridge, give them to your friends and family and it will reduce the chance of unexpected visitors and tempting requests.
4. Get out
It can be draining to see the same four walls every day when you work from home, it can also get quite lonely. This is why it’s a great idea to get out often and change the scenery; it’s a sanity saver and production booster.
Consider working at a local cafe, a library or a coworking space. “But what if I have kids?” I hear you ask. There are some indoor play centres in Brisbane with free Wifi and cafes that I love to visit. Wherever you are located, I’m sure there will be similar options. Bundle up the kids and your laptop and head to these play centres for a couple of hours to let your kids burn the energy while you work.
My other favourite thing about getting out is the good old adult conversation. Since working from home, I’ve never enjoyed talking on the phone more!
5. Plan your lunches
I’ll be the first to admit that there have been many times when I haven’t eaten healthy while working from home. When it should be the easiest place to eat healthily, it’s also the easiest to pick up something unhealthy if you’re in a rush to meet a deadline. Prepare something for yourself and you will be least likely to reach for the leftover pizza from last night. For inspiration, check out these low carb snacks.
6. Reduce distractions
Distractions, distractions, distractions! You know the ones, they are everywhere at home and they’re always calling your name! This would have to be one of the main challenges people with stay at home jobs face when trying to be productive. Here’s how you can limit some of those pesky distractions:
Make a dedicated workspace away from distractions like the television or living room, preferably with a door that can be shut at the end of your work day and which will keep out the noise when the family is home (and to indicate that you are busy). A ‘she shed’ is my ultimate home office dream!
If your family still don’t understand what a closed door means (this happens to me all the time), put a sign up on the door that says ‘I am working until 2 pm’.
Create a space
If space is limited and you don’t have a separate room for an office, create a little nook as far away from distractions as possible. Little nooks that can be closed up in a cupboard are a great idea because you can hide your workspace at the end of the day.
Closing the door on your workspace is an important part of being able to separate work and personal life when you work at home, any reminder of work quickly makes you think about it.
Minimal prep dinners
If you have to put dinner on, do it during your lunch break and select recipes that are quick and have little preparation e.g. slow cooker recipes where you pretty much throw everything in. If there is prep involved like peeling and chopping vegetables, do it the night before or on the weekend, prep the vegetables and meat, add them to a large snap-lock bag along with the sauce and freeze it. All you have to do then is take it out and put it straight into the slow cooker.
Say no to TV
Just say NO to television during the day. It’s a time waster. Don’t even turn it on otherwise you’ll be tempted.
Yes, working at home provides flexibility but to be as productive as possible it’s important that distractions don’t get in the way. By setting boundaries and good habits, you will not only see your business thrive because you’re able to reach your goals, you will see your stress levels reduce as well.
How do you stay focused when working at home?