I’ve worked from home since 2010, and while I LOVE the freedom it allows for travel and personal life, it has not always come naturally to me to work from home the way I used to work in an office setting. Over the years I’ve developed some systems that help me stay focused and get things done. These are my best tips for working from home:
- Have a space dedicated to work + make sure it inspires you
I know that not everyone has a dedicated office space in their home and that’s totally ok. Whether you’re working from a lap-desk on your couch or at your dining room table, just have a space that you go to when it’s time to work, so that you can get into the mindset “I’m at work now.”
As a creative, it’s really important to me to feel inspired by my work space on the days that I’m sitting behind my laptop instead of out in the world creating. I do have a dedicated office and my desk is covered in found treasures, coastal memorabilia and photos of my husband and I enjoying life.
But even if you’re working at the bartop counter in your kitchen, think of a few things that make you happy that you can pull out when you’re pulling out your laptop and your days work (like a photo of your kids or your favorite oils in your diffuser) and set your space up for some dedicated productivity time.
- Get dressed for the day
I’m not saying I take a shower and put on makeup and fix my hair every day of the week. If I’m honest, I only do that when I have meetings outside the house or shoot days. But I do make a habit of getting out of my pjs and putting on shoes. I don’t know what it is about shoes, but studies show that wearing shoes puts you in the productivity mindset. I’m a perpetually barefoot kinda girl, so there’s something about getting my shoes on (even if it’s flip flops) that puts my mind in the habit of getting things done. Even if it’s workout clothes, I just feel more productive.
- Work like you’re on the clock
This is probably my most important and biggest tip.
One of the appealing things about working from home is the idea that you can also get a lot of stuff done around your house during the day. While that’s true, I find that those things majorly distract me from productivity. Every time you get up, it can take 3-5 minutes to find your place again and get back into the groove of working. Do that 10-15 times a day and you’ve just lost yourself anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes of productivity each day.
Multiply that by 5 days in a week and that’s anywhere from 2.5 hours to 6.5 hours lost. Ummm… 6.5 hours is like almost an entire work day. Not good.
I’ve found that setting blocks of time to work really helps me stay on task. I use the timer and the alarms on my phone to help me stay in the work mindset.
I may hear the washer chime go off and want to go move the laundry along, but until my alarm signals it’s time to switch work blocks, I don’t get up. That goes for getting another snack and throwing the ball for my dog too.
I’m a creative, so I need my time blocks to be unrestrictive. I set 2-4 time blocks for myself per work day. A time block is a chunk of time dedicated to specific tasks I need to get done that day. I schedule them around meetings and phone calls, and give myself freedom within those time blocks.For example, here’s what my day looked like today:
5:30-7:30AM morning routine
7:30 get dressed + transition to work time
8:00-9:55 WORK BLOCK #1
break + throw the ball for Fawkes
10:00-11:00 WORK BLOCK #2
11:30 phone meeting
12:00-1:00 WORK BLOCK #3
1:00 phone meeting
1:30-5:00 WORK BLOCK #4
break at 3:00 to feed + throw the ball for Fawkes
5:00 wrap things up for the day + look at tomorrow’s schedule, make adjustments based on what I completed today.Today I had 3 main tasks/projects that needed to get done + a bunch of smaller tasks. So I set 4 time blocks according to how much time I thought I would need to complete everything on my list. That’s 1 time block for each of the big projects + 1 time block for getting all of the smaller tasks knocked out.
I don’t always get everything done within my assigned time block and I never want to rush my work or get sloppy, but knowing I’m working within a specified time helps me to keep my mind on task and off of Instagram or digging through the pantry for a snack. And knowing I’ll be switching tasks at the end of the block keeps my mind engaged and from getting bored and sluggish.
You guys know how much I love my Simplified Planner, and it’s my go-to tool for planning out what I’m going to work on during each time block + keep all my meetings, appointments and shoots straight throughout the week.
- Brain dump + keep lists
I have a brain dump notebook with me at all times because it seems like my best ideas always come right when I’m in the middle of trying to complete an important task and I’ll waste precious time if I pause to start contemplating something new. So I write it down along with any details that come to mind right then, and get right back to work. Then, throughout the day if I think of anything else, I jot it down there too. This frees my mind to keep trucking ahead on what I’m working on, knowing that I’ll come back to that idea and schedule time to think about it/work on it later.
I also end each day by making a list like this. Any rogue ideas, things I didn’t complete that day or reminders for myself go there. I’m guilty of having a terrible memory, so if I don’t write it down, I will probably forget it. This saves me a lot of frustration and anxiety later.
- Plan your week out according to tasks
Similar to time blocking within each day, I try to keep my schedule pretty segmented within the week as well to help me fit the maximum amount of productivity into a week. It doesn’t make sense for me to drive 45 minutes into town every day of the week if I can plan everything I need to do there in 1-2 days per week. Travel time takes up a lot of space and while I use that time to listen to business books and podcasts on work days, it can really eat into work time if I let it get too frequent.
On an ideal week, I try to keep all my personal appointments, grocery shopping, etc to Mondays and meetings and networking lunches/coffees to Thursdays so that I have all day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to get my head down and get bigger tasks and projects completed, whether that be photo shoots, editing, or work from home.
I hope this was helpful!! If you have other tips for work-from-home productivity, I would LOVE to hear them! Drop them in the comments below!!