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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published on March 24, 2019.
There’s serious allure in working from home. But how do you keep that allure from messing with your productivity?
Because after all, you are still working to earn an income. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of that. If you are struggling, you’re probably feeling down enough without me harping on you. I know just how you feel.
I’ve been exactly where you perhaps are right now. You feel like you’ve got endless freedom, and the world is your oyster. Yet you feel like no progress is being made because at the end of the day, (well, during the day, actually,) you’re waffling. Flipping around from task to task, thought to thought with no plan of attack.
I am here to tell you that yes, you can be successful working from home. But yes, you do need serious self-discipline. This is my foolproof 10 step plan for being productive every single day.
Okay, maybe not really set-in-stone, but you get the idea. Honestly, it is 100x easier to drag yourself out of bed in the morning when you know exactly what needs to be done, and by what time. Freedom sounds like a great thing, but it really isn’t, not when you are trying to accomplish big goals.
Remember the whole “be your own boss,” thing? Morning is the perfect time to pull up your “Boss” pants and let the employee side of you know that she’s got work to do.
Want to know more about my morning routine? Click here to see the post!
This goes along with the morning routine, and I think it is the most important part. Something about remaining in the clothes I slept in just makes me lazy. It doesn’t matter if I slept in jeans or matching jammies. Like I said in my morning routine post, even if I am only changing from one set of loungewear to another set, it makes a world of difference in how put together and ready for the day I feel.
Repeat after me: I will not work in bed. Designate a space in your home that you use just for work. It can be a spare bedroom or as simple as a desk in the corner of the living room. Your subconscious is signaled that it is work time whenever you enter the space. Make sure this space has everything you need to be productive and comfortable. A comfy chair, plenty of pens and notepaper, a safe spot for your coffee so you won’t spill it on your laptop, etc. This arrangement is also very helpful in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, which we’ll talk more about later on in the post.
Getting too absorbed in your work is an unexpected issue when you are working at home. Having little to no distractions is awesome for productivity, but it’s also way too easy to lose track of time and not drink enough fluids. That’s not healthy. I recommend setting a timer for every 60 minutes, reminding you to stand up, walk to the kitchen and fetch something to drink. In the mornings, I drink multiple cups of green tea, with one cup of coffee thrown in somewhere. In the afternoon, I aim to drink 1 glass of water every hour. Your body and your productive brain will than you.
You have no one telling you what to do when you work from home. That means you have to figure out your priorities for yourself, and fast. Instead of falling into a disorganized frenzy, struggling to know what to do every minute of the day, schedule a block of time every morning to figure it out. List making and goal planning cannot be afterthoughts when you are managing your time all on your own.
When you have a solid planning system, you can focus on work right now, rather than dwell on the work you need to do later. Managing both your work and your household is no small feat. I keep everything in check using a system I created using few free Google apps and my bullet journal. Likewise, working on keeping my lists, notes, and calendars are not up for discussion. If I am ever super pressed for time and I have to choose between updating my planning system and finishing that last bit of work, I’ll choose the planner. I can always come back to work, but it’s much more difficult to get back on track if I lose my work flow balance.
If you’re interested in precisely how I keep my life under control, I have a post all about my planning system. >> Click here!
Break-taking is a contentious subject for work-at-homers. On one hand, we feel like breaks are frivolous and lazy. But on the other hand, there are plenty of moments when we’ve been sitting in the same chair for hours and out productivity comes to a screeching halt. You might as well take an actual break at this point, because things aren’t getting done anyway. Which makes you feel even worse, by the way.
I compromise with myself by setting a schedule for my “work breaks” so I never feel guilty walking away from the computer, or just sitting in my desk chair and spazzing out. The last 10 minutes of every hour is my “break time.” This way, I work intentionally for 50 minutes, uninterrupted. I know exactly when I will get to check my phone and decompress, so I can work deliberately during this time. I also give myself a whole hour for brunch.
One of my favorite things about being on my own schedule is that I can set aside time for learning each day. For me, the easiest way to start feeling unstuck in life is to learn new things, even if what I learn about just turns out to be a hobby. Plus, some recreational reading a good change of pace during the day that can be helpful for boosting your productivity and focus during the times when you are trying to work.
It’s no secret around here that I am not a fan of exercise. I have to nag and bribe myself to do it. One of the perks, (or curses,) of working at home is that I have no excuse for not making time for exercise. Whether you love it or hate it, exercise is necessary for getting your body moving after long days of sitting in your desk chair. All you need is 30 minutes in the morning or afternoon. Perhaps 45, but if you need time for freshening-up afterward.
Personally, I exercise in the evenings close to the time I would be showering anyway. I simply step away from work for 30 minutes, do a quick power walk on the treadmill or YouTube yoga, and get right back to work to finish my day. Surprisingly, this is often my most productive hour of the day. Something about moving your body really gets your mind going too.
Just like how it’s important that you are ruthless with your precious morning time, it is also imperative that you are equally uncompromising about regarding “quitting time.” Otherwise known as the fine line between your work and the rest of your life. My quitting time is 6:00 PM. I even have a calendar event to remind me. Sometimes I even finish a bit early, but never later. At 5:45, I know that it is time to start wrapping up whatever task I am working on, and jot down must-do’s for the following day. I then pack up my laptop and move away from my workspace.
And when I do decide to take a day off, I don’t feel guilty about it. I know that I did all the work that I possibly could during my “work” time, and therefore my break is well deserved.
That’s all for today!
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Till next time ♥︎
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