For people who don’t actually do it, the work-from-home life might seem like a pipe dream: you roll out of your bed at your desired time, make that perfect cuppa, stroll over to your desk still in your PJ’s, and, voila, work just “happens.”
But for those of us who actually do it, the reality of being productive while working from home is...let’s just say, not always so smooth.
It’s hard to separate yourself from your home life when you need to work, and even if your home is “quiet,” distractions abound. Kids, pets, laundry, even sneaky afternoon Netflix breaks...whatever you like or think you “need” to do at home, it will sneak up on you when you least expect it!
For many, working at home can be a godsend...but doing it well it takes a little (or a lot of) practice.
Here are a few things I do for myself to stay on track.
1. Beat the Rush
Because I live in a house full of people, it's incredibly important that I wake up 1 to 2 hours before everyone else to focus on what's most important for that day. Once everyone is awake, I then move onto the less important tasks, or at least the ones that require less focus.
For me, I know that two hours in the morning is primetime: no distractions, a "fresh" mind...it's super valuable. Night owls may like to work after the kids have gone to bed.
The key is to pinpoint about two hours during each day where you will have maximum focus and minimal distractions.
2. Reward Yourself with Distractions
The other day, I sat down to write a blog...then suddenly, out of nowhere, I found myself planning my son's Chuck E. Cheese’s Birthday Party!
So, I give myself tasks throughout the day. Generally, I have about five big things that I want to accomplish. If I get an item done, I reward myself with doing something off-topic - like planning that birthday or getting up to put that laundry in the wash.
We all know that small 'to-do' items can morph into whatever amount we allow them. So, give them a time limit and do what you got to do.
At home, there are so many other things that you can do besides “work”
3. Wear Your PJs & Get Comfy
When I first started working at home, my boss at the time told me the secret to working at home was to dress as if you were going into the office — which was a business suit in that particular environment.
He said it would create a business mindset. So, I did...for awhile. Then, I realized that it was kind of ridiculous, since I'm my best self when I am comfortable!
So now first thing in the morning, I put on cozy clothes before I get started.
Not only does it feel better for me, it also shaves that whole “getting ready” part of the day and ends up in greater productivity...and party planning and laundry-doing.
4. Create a Separate Work Space
I have a dedicated basement space to work. It's not a fancy office, but it is full of fun quotes, favorite business books, and vision board pictures. I've deliberately designed it as both a private space (with no distractions) and a zone of inspiration.
But the most important part of having a separate space is that you can leave your work "at the office." Working from home can easily become a 24/7 nonstop way of life. I had a hard time shutting my brain down at the end of the day while visions of client demands danced in my head.
So, I literally leave work at work (aka home basement office), which keeps me from doing that "one last email" thing before hitting the sack.
This lets me have a restful sleep so that I can get started bright and early again the next day.
Everyone has a different work style: night or day, PJs or work clothes, long stretches of work vs. broken up chunks. The best thing about working from home is that you have the freedom to find your own rhythm.
Do you work from home? How do you stay productive through the day? Share your tips below!