Well, y’all, it’s official. I’ve been working as a full time freelance from home for nearly five months. That’s crazy and somewhat hard to believe. While I was still in Clarksville there was an abundance of coffee shops that I could pop into and work. However, now that I’m back in my (very small) hometown, there are no coffee shops. So, that makes things a little more difficult, ultimately meaning that I’m working from home every day (or driving 20+ minutes to get somewhere that does have a coffee shop).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining here. I love working from home! I get to hang out in my running shorts or yoga pants, throw my hair up, and have unlimited chai lattes oh and lunch for free. That’s the life, y’all. However, there are some days where it’s hard to feel inspired to work, especially since I don’t have a desk (never got around to following through with my goal of having a dedicated workspace here, oops). I know I’m not alone in my situation, so today I wanted to share some tips to help you stay productive while working from home.
Set designated work time and stick to it This has been a big one for me. If I didn’t have a set work time, I would probably work all the time on some days and never work on other days. After being home for a couple of months I settled into a routine where I found myself jumping into work around 9AM and quitting work around 5PM (or a little earlier if my schedule was light). Now I have those times as my set “office” hours, and that’s when I do all of my client work. Some days I go a little slower in the morning, but if at lunch I look at my to do list and feel like I haven’t done anything, I’ll step it up afterwards to make sure I can still be done when I’d like to be. Having these set hours can also help with family. Although mine know I’m able and willing to take breaks to run errands throughout the day, they also have a good idea of when I’m working and tend to let me work instead of popping in every few minutes for a conversation.
Take several short breaks throughout the day As studies have shown, the Pomodoro method works and actually helps us be more productive. I don’t use a set timer for this, but generally throughout my day I’ll work for about an hour and then take a break to see what people are chatting about on Twitter, making another cup of whatever my drink is for the day (in case you’re wondering, recently it’s been Vanilla Chai Lattes and Apple Cider!), or just catching some news. Don’t be afraid to take breaks throughout your day. If you work nonstop from the minute you start in the morning until the second it’s time for dinner, you’re going to find yourself getting burnt out within a week or so. Give yourself room to breathe. Take a break to go for a walk, meet a friend for lunch, or just watch an episode of something. For example, recently, I’ve been watching a few episodes of Community during my lunch break to make sure I give myself plenty of time to get away from my projects and relax.
Get a calendar and track your to do list This has been another big one for me. Partially because if I don’t write something down I forget it, and also because it helps me stay on track throughout the day. I use a cheap planner (pictured above) and every time I say to a client, “Okay, this will be done and I’ll shoot it over to you on ____.” I immediately add it to that day so I remember to do it. I also jot down when I need to do things for the blog like take photos or schedule tweets. Having a to do list is great for productivity not just so you actually know what you need to get done, but the act of crossing something off or checking it encourages you to keep going. I mean seriously, how many times have you checked off something on your list only to feel so ready to get to your next task? Having this sort of set up also helps keep track of your work in a way that can keep you from taking on too much. For example, a few weeks ago my MTW were stacked with things to do, but the end of the week was pretty open. So, when someone contacted me needing something turned around in that period, I knew when exactly I’d be able to get to it.
Those are just some main things to help you stay productive while working at home. I’ve read that getting dressed like you’re going to work somewhere else can help (though really, who wants to wear real pants all day?). I’ve also read that having a designated workspace can help you be more productive!
If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share in the comments below!