Being productive when you work from home can be such a challenge. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be! Setting clear boundaries between your work and personal life will allow you to get more done during your office hours. If you take the time to set an intentional schedule then you will be more productive when working from home. You will also finally have that flexible schedule that you always dreamed of when you were still working that 9-5.
Take some time to think about what your ideal working day looks like. This could mean that you work a full 8-hour, or more, day or you might prefer to work part-time. Either way, think about which hours you are usually the most creative and productive. Make those your office hours.
For me, this means that I generally work from 9-5 each day. I know, that’s pretty basic, right? After all, I did leave a 9-5 job to have more flexibility in my schedule. I usually end up working these hours because they work for me! My husband also works from 9-5, so it’s nice to be able to spend our evenings together. I have considered waking up earlier so that I can finish up around 4 pm. So far, that hasn’t actually happened yet haha. I’m not a morning person!
Whatever hours you decide on, try to stick to them as often as possible. I understand, that you left your job to pick up more flexible hours, and you should definitely take advance of that sometimes, but not every day. Trust me, grabbing long lunches with friends is nice, but when your business is suffering because of it, you won’t be happy. By all means, take that long lunch if you’ve scheduled it intentionally. Then, make that time up later by working on the weekend, getting up a little early or working a little late one night.
It’s important to know when you’re going to take your breaks each day so that you can stay on track. You don’t necessarily need to your break at the same time each day, but consider how many breaks you want to have and how long they will be. I like to schedule about 30 minutes for lunch and then, another 20 minutes or so where I either run a quick errand or take my dog on a walk.
I don’t always have time for the extra 20-minute break, but I do take at least 30 minutes for lunch every single day. After that short break, I’m rejuvenated and motivated to start working again in the afternoon. If you find that you’re working through your lunch break often then think about how you change this in the future. Maybe you need to take on less work and raise your prices to make that happen.
Believe me, I know, there are so many distractions, all around us, at home. It’s so easy to hop onto any one of the many social media platforms that you visit regularly and get distracted for the next 30 minutes to an hour. Even if you’re in a business-related Facebook group or chatting with your internet friends on Instagram, this isn’t exactly the most productive work that you could be doing.
If it is business related, by all means, you should take care of this during your business hours. But, make it a part of your daily routine so that you don’t spend more time than necessary on the platform. I dedicate 30 minutes a day to hop onto social media and actually be social (not including scheduling my own posts). This means, two 15 minute increments, one in the morning and one in the afternoon so that I can stay up to date.
Pinterest is another big time-suck for me. I log in and instantly see all of these awesome articles that I want to read, like NOW! Then, I find myself an hour later still reading articles about, something like, Facebook ads and not doing any actual work. To stop this from happening, I created a secret Pinterest board where I can quickly pin any content that I really want to check out. If I see something interesting, I’ll pin it to that board and come back to it, in my free time, to read the article. Then, if I found it insightful, I’ll share it with my audience on a public board.
Not all distractions are online. Your house is probably a big one! I know that it is for me. If it’s not clean, I get distracted and sometimes find myself cleaning up, instead of getting work done. To fix this, I tidy up the house right before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning, the house is clean and all I would have to do is rinse my dirty dishes throughout the day. If this doesn’t work and you’re still having trouble keeping things neat, then it might be time to consider, hiring someone to clean your house.
Organizing your business is especially vital to stay productive throughout the day. Not only that but being organized will ultimately, speed up your workflow so that you can get more done. Or, even, take an extra break!
Here are a few tools that I use to stay organized in my home office:
I seem to always mention this tool in my blog posts, don’t I? But, seriously, I can’t say enough good things about this tool! I use it to manage all of my client projects so that they stay on track. I’m not a day planner, type of gal, so I also prefer to have all of my own business related to-do lists in Asana. I have a separate project for Jules Design and I put all of my to-dos for the week/month in there.
I use this tool to brain dump ideas that I have for my blog or to write down goals that I have for my business. I love it because I can add information on my phone or desktop and then it syncs up automatically. In my personal life, it’s also great for list making – usually, for things that I want to fix around the house or for groceries.
If I’m ever feeling a little overwhelmed and just feel the need to write all ideas down on paper, then that’s when I break out my business journal. I also use it for note taking during client meetings and any classes that I’m taking online. I always like to move my thoughts from my journal over to the digital world. So, I’ll move some things into Asana (that are tasks or projects) and others into Evernote (notes/brain dump)
I use Google calendar to organize my entire week/month so that I know what is coming up. I only have one calendar, for both my work and personal life, but I use different colors to highlight what each activity is. I have a color for client meetings, webinars that I’ve joined, coffee chats, and other biz related things that come up. I then use another color for things that I’ve planned with family/friends and another for exercise that I’ve scheduled.
I kind of already touched on this, above, in the scheduling section, but I think it’s really important to separate your work and personal life as much as possible. I know, it can be hard when you work from home and your computer is only a couple of seconds away. But, I always feel my best when I set clear boundaries for my time.
For example, if you’ve scheduled an hour of your day to exercise then don’t break that commitment. You might decide to move your schedule around to accommodate someone but never do something that makes you uncomfortable.
For me, this means not working on the weekends. I sometimes work a little late or get up early during the week to hit deadlines but working on weekends is something that I just don’t do. If I did, I would be compromising my free time and would feel like I’m always working…because I would be. I need that break to unwind and prepare for the week ahead. Ask yourself, what’s your non-negotiable? How can you ensure that you always have a clear separation between work and personal time?
Being more productive really comes down to scheduling your time, sticking to it and getting organized. When I took the time to do all three of these things, my productivity shot up. Because I was able to get more done during my office hours, I was also able to shut down and appreciate my free time. If you haven’t already, go ahead and create a schedule for your business that also allows you to enjoy your personal time. After all, we started our businesses so that we could have the freedom to create our own schedule and, ultimately, live the life that we want to live.
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