Working from home has its perks – the commute is the best, you can wear what you want, you can work to your own schedule, there’s no punching in and out, you can eat peanut butter out the jar without anyone judging you and hellooo extra time with your furbabies (or actual babies…). The list goes on!
However, it definitely comes with its challenges too. Trying to mentally separate work from play when you physically work and live in the same space is really hard. As is trying to maintain focus when there is a plethora of distractions around you – whether it’s the comfy couch, the full fridge, the mountain of laundry, or the pesty pooch… Some people find working from home isolating and get cabin fever, while others can find it detrimental to their health and end up binge eating and getting super lazy or unmotivated.
Whatever your challenges are, I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve to massively improve your efficiency AND your happiness and most of all stay productive while working from home!
TIP #1 – Treat your business like a business
“Treat your business like a business and it will pay you like a business. Treat your business like a hobby and it will cost you like a hobby.” Some seriously wise words to keep at the forefront of your mind when running a business from home. Watching day time TV while you work and only putting in a couple of hours a day won’t get you anywhere…
TIP #2 – Set an alarm
When I started working from home I didn’t set an alarm for the first three months and wondered why despite not having to commute or get myself dolled up each morning, I still ran out of time in the day!? Duh. It doesn’t have to be at the crack of dawn as each body clock is different, but it’s so important to get yourself up and at ’em each day – as a routine massively helps with productivity. Early bird gets the worm and all that…
TIP #3 – Get up, get dressed
The idea of working in your PJs with your hair in a topknot is pretty dreamy when you work from home once a month, but doing this on a daily basis is not a great habit to get into. By no means do you need to get dressed up to the nines, but pulling on some jeans instead of yoga pants each day will really help you take yourself more seriously as a professional and feel like you’ve got your sh*t together. Plus, catching your reflection and feeling good about the way you look will do wonders for your mood.
TIP #4 – Create a morning routine
Having an efficient morning routine leads to a more productive day because it eliminates any unnecessary decision making tasks. You therefore spend less time dawdling and more time doing! It also allows you to factor in the things that you love to do in the morning like walking my pooch with a cup of tea, without feeling guilty about “wasting time”.
TIP #5 – Move your body
In my opinion one of the best ways to set yourself up for a productive day is by moving your body first thing in the morning. The temptation to slither from your bed to your desk (or even to work from your bed) is all to real! But this does nothing for your productivity as you barely give your brain a chance to wake up. And think of all the extra endorphins exercise brings you that will help perk up your mood and focus!
TIP #6 – Meal prep
Resisting the urge to graze on leftovers and stop yourself from snacking all day can be difficult when the kitchen is so, so close. Prep your meals for the week as if you were going into work at an office. You will keep yourself nice and healthy, as well as fuel your brain with what it actually needs to help you concentrate and keep those creative juices flowing.
TIP #7 – Create a working space that you ADORE!
Tidy space, tidy mind is all well and good. But inspired space and inspired mind is even better! Firstly, you will feel so much happier if you are loving the space that you’re working in. Secondly, if you have a set area in your house that is dedicated to work, it really helps you to mentally separate work and play – as at the end of the day you are able to literally close the door on that part of your house and relax in the other areas of your home that feel like an oasis of non-work related calm!
TIP #8 – Structure your day
I am perhaps on the OCD side when it comes to organisation and I cannot comprehend how people run a business without structure each day – but that is just personal preference. My top 2 techniques for structuring my day are writing to-do lists and blocking out time on my google calendar. When I first started freelancing I used to do my client work in an ad-hoc manner, but it became impossible to track how my hours were spent and I often found myself spending far too much time on things that weren’t important and absolutely no time on working on my own business, as well as never taking breaks.
Now I spend 15 minutes at the beginning of the week dividing chunks of my weekly google calendar out to certain tasks across my client work and personal business work. For example: 9-11am Client X Work (see to do list for Client X), 11:30 – 1:30pm Blog post on productivity, etc. etc. I leave gaps in between each activity to ensure that I take a break from my screen (and have time to cuddle my pooch and squeeze in another cup of tea) which helps me to start a new task with a fresh and relaxed mindset.
As I set these time allocations out at the beginning of the week, it means that when I get to my desk every morning I know exactly what I’m going to be working on for the rest of the day. My google calendar sends me push notifications 10 minutes before the next activity is due to start, which also acts as a great reminder to stay on track. Obviously a level of flexibility is required to allow for more time consuming tasks or last minute projects, but having the framework there truly does wonders.
I strongly recommend trying this method out and seeing how much more you get done with your day! Click here to take a closer look at google calendars.
TIP #9 – Take breaks and leave your house
There are so many pieces of contradictory advice out there when it comes to taking breaks. I think it’s important to do what’s best for you. If you want a break, then take one! You are your own boss after all 😉 I find it great if breaks are already structured into your day (see tip 8!!) as then you can relax guilt free.
Getting outside and into the sunshine is an awesome way to take a time out! Breathing in that fresh air and soaking up some vitamin D is obviously fantastic for your health, happiness and productivity for the rest of the day. And so is getting yourself out of your work cave and actually seeing other humans… in real life *shudders*.
To stop yourself from going totally stir crazy by the end of each week, try to get in the habit of leaving your house and working from a coffee shop or co-working space at least once a week. The switch up in environments and social interactions do amazing things for your mood.
TIP #10 – Set your hours and switch off!
When you’re structuring your day, work out when to stop and just DO IT! If your laptop is in the living room, it’s easy to allow yourself to juuuust send one more email and before you know it it’s 10pm! Claim your evenings and weekends back for yourself and enjoy some non-work related time out with your significant other, your friends or yo’self. Keep your work things in your work area until Monday morning. You will find your productivity is significantly better next week if you actually stop at the weekends.
TIP #11 – Set boundaries and say NO!
Setting boundaries with your clients and customers is super important. It is so easy to manage peoples expectations by informing them of your working hours (or adding them to your website / email footer) and not making exceptions to those rules, just like how a more established business won’t open up shop on a Sunday night – why should you?
Setting boundaries with your partner, family and friends is incredibly important too. As soon as you start working from home, people seem to think that all your time is ‘free time’ and imagine you spending your days watching Jeremy Kyle and doing backward rolls across the carpet. Although no one ever means any harm in asking, consistently taking time out of your working week to do favours for other people can have a negative effect on your productivity and stop you from reaching your full potential. Set your boundaries and respect your time!
TIP #12 – Remember that it is all worth it!
I absolutely adore working from home, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I strongly believe that the pros outweigh the cons. Connecting with likeminded people and practicing daily gratitude for where you’re at – running your own business from your own home – is a great way of remembering that despite the challenges, it is all 100% worth it! Woohoo!