Working from home is awesome! But let’s face it – you can get easily distracted and get to the end of the day just to realize that you don’t have much to show for it. So today let’s talk about how to stay productive while working from home.
Set Your Office Hours
The first think you need to do to stay productive while working from home is to set your office hours. Whether you work for someone else or you have our own business you need to set your office hours. You might be wondering, why would I need to set my hours? Especially if I work for myself. The more hours I can put into my business the more I can get done.
I don’t think that is true at all. Occasional long hours at work are sometimes necessary. Maybe when you are just starting a new business or when you are working on a high priority project with the upcoming deadline. But you don’t want to make that your normal. For many reasons!
But most of all, you don’t want to make your company or your customers think that you are available 24/7!
Because they will take advantage of that. They will feel free to make requests at any time of the day (or night!) and expect to be answered right away. And think about what that will do to your productivity.
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You cannot work on your priorities when you have to work on priorities of other people.
I also don’t believe that more time will make you more productive. Instead, I think that setting specific limits for how much time you have to dedicate to a specific task or project will make you more productive. Read more about this topic on my previous blog post.
Set Your Work Space for Success
If you want to be productive while working from home you absolutely must create your workspace. You can create an office in one of your rooms or you can simply place a desk somewhere in your house.
You basically want to create a space in your house for your brain to know that when you sit there, it’s time to work and be productive.
When we first moved into our house, I used to work on the kitchen island. Simply because we were still renovating at that time. And while it was temporarily my dedicated space, I found myself being distracted all the time. I kept on looking at my kitchen thinking what I will be cooking for dinner. Not to mention constant snacking since I was right next to the fridge and pantry.
But once I had my own desk it made a huge difference. It is so much easier to get in to the work zone and stay there.
Having your own work space will also help you not mix home responsibilities with work responsibilities. Because you will know that during the office hours you have set for yourself, you are in your designated work space doing work related activities. And that is really important in order to stay productive when you work from home.
And make sure that your space is clutter free! Nothing hinders creativity and productivity more than clutter does! So keep it clear and clean ; ) Here is one of my decluttering videos for some inspiration!
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Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
This is key to being productive while working from home. You want to have a plan of what you will be doing that day.
Why? Because you will waste a lot of time each day trying to figure out what your priorities are for a given day! And what tasks you should complete in order to achieve those priorities. You will keep getting distracted by checking your email or chatting with your co-workers. Simply because you don’t feel the urgency to start working on something.
I plan my days a week at a time. So basically each Sunday night or Monday morning I sit down and look at my schedule for the week. I look at what meetings or appointments I have that week. Then I decide what priorities I will be working on that week. And I plan specific tasks throughout the week to help me accomplish those priorities.
And that leads me to the next tip, which is time blocking. I block times on my calendar – usually for an hour at a time to work on a specific task or set of similar tasks.
I basically create an appointment for myself with myself to work on my priorities. Might seem like an overkill to some, but it is really helpful when you are trying to stay on track and be productive.
If you treat it like a meeting that you have to attend, you are more likely to actually get it done. It took me a few tries to get a handle on it, because at first I simply thought of it as another item on my to-do list. But once I started thinking about time blocking as appointments with customers, I became much more strict with myself into honoring those appointments.
If I don’t time block, it will likely not get done. Because I will get distracted by other tasks or incoming emails throughout the day. Here is a great video resource from Jordan Page on time blocking for working moms.
Put Your Phone Away
The next tip for staying productive while working from home is probably the hardest habit to break. And that is to put your phone away. I will honestly say that phone is # 1 enemy of productivity. It has those magic powers that can turn the ‘let me just take a minute and check my Facebook’ to ‘what did I just do for the past 30 minutes on social media’?
It is so tempting to check your phone throughout the day. I have noticed that whenever my downloading a document and it takes forever, my instinct is to grab my phone and check something while I’m waiting. Or the need to just check if you have any new messages throughout the day.
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It will suck your time away from you. I have not completely solved this problem for myself yet. But I will tell you that the one thing that I did that made a huge difference is turning off my notifications. They only stay on for my messages and Facebook messenger. And that is because it is what me and my husband use to communicate throughout the day.
I honestly could not believe how much less time I spend checking my phone. So I would suggest turning your notifications off as the first step.
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Take Breaks Throughout the Day
When we work from home, we can get caught up with a specific project and sit in our chair for extended periods of time. But we have to remember to take short breaks throughout the day. Our bodies and minds need that break. Use those breaks to stretch, go grab your lunch, or go outside and get some fresh air.
Not only will this let your body relax but taking those breaks will help you be more creative and productive.
Interact with your Coworkers or People in your Network
Working from home is awesome. I have been doing it full time for the past five and a half years and part time for a few years before that. But it can be isolating at times because you don’t get to interact with our co-workers like you would in the office setting.
How is that related to productivity? You want to make sure that you remember about your co-workers and your network when you are facing a challenge.
Sometimes we get stuck when we work on something and spend hours trying to figure it out on our own. Simply because we forget we can ask someone for their opinion or help. So make sure you spend some time each day on building and maintaining your relationships with people in yournetwork and/or co-workers.
You will be much more creative and productive when you can bounce ideas off of each other.
What do you do to stay productive while working from home? What are your favorite tips for those who are just starting out? Share below!