As I get further and further into my freelance career and blogging journey, I’m finding that some things are absolutely nonnegotiable to stay productive. Working from home is such a blessing and I still can’t believe that I’m able to do it. I never anticipated, however, just how much discipline it takes to be successful in this kind of working environment. You can read more about my freelancing career here. Without having a boss walking through your living room to check on progress and an ugly office to keep thoughts of personal issues at bay, staying focused can be incredibly difficult.
Each week I try and evaluate how I spent my time and think of ways to get more work done next week. Honestly, half of this time I spend brainstorming is really spent just wishing I had like 6 more hours in each day. I can’t control how many hours are in a day but I can control how I spend them. Here are some things I do to maximize my productivity while working from home and I hope they can help you too!
Set Goals and Make To Do Lists
I don’t know what you do to earn a living from home but whatever it is (blogging, writing, virtual assistant), I’m sure you have goals for your work. I like to keep a notebook just for tracking my goals. Every year, month, and week I create a new list of goals. My monthly goals should take steps toward reaching my yearly goals and my weekly goals should help me meet my monthly goals.
This is where making daily to do lists really comes in handy. Every day I take time to look at my weekly goals and add something to tomorrow’s to do list to work towards it. Did you know crossing something off your to do list is proven to make you happy and keep you motivated? It’s true! So make your lists and if you want to use the same one I do check this one out. It’s a free printable and I absolutely love it!
Eat the Frog
One of my favorite methods for staying motivated and getting things done – eat the frog! If you haven’t heard of this, all it means is you do the thing you least want to do first. Doing this makes the rest of your work feel like a reward and it keeps you from dragging your feet all day to avoid taking care of that task you are dreading. Cross this off your to do list first and stay motivated all day!
This is another productivity strategy that seems to work pretty well. Take care of all your social media and then handle all your emails. This can be 2-3 hour chunks of time or certain days of the week assigned to taking care of specific activities. My only problem with batching is getting bored. For example, if I’m trying to take care of all the social media scheduling for my client all in one go, I get demotivated, tired, and annoyed which leads me to my next tip.
Just because you’re working in batches doesn’t mean you have to work nonstop. Taking frequent breaks is so important to staying productive! It prevents burnout and keeps you feeling refreshed throughout the day. So, take a break every 50-90 minutes for about 15-20 minutes. For more information on how often you should take a break and how long they should be check out this awesome article from Inc.
What better way to take a break than to take a walk around the block. I especially like to do this when I feel stuck or really drained from a project. Walking wakes me up and refreshes my mind. When you are “stuck” in your home from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, life and work can start feeling really heavy all of a sudden. Do yourself a favor and get moving.
Listening to my favorite podcasts has been something I’ve added into my day lately. When I’m working on a particularly monotonous, no creativity required task, I put on How I Built This to keep me inspired. There is something about hearing millionaires talk about how they started out by working less than great jobs that keeps me going.
Do Not Disturb
One of my biggest problems during the work day is seeing notifications and texts come through on my phone. Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I’m not wildly popular by any means but I frequently get email notifications from work. It really stresses me out to see these when I’m already working on a project. I start to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and like I’m getting behind. So I’ve started to switch off notifications and turn the “Do Not Disturb” feature on on my phone.
Keep it Clean
There is nothing that distracts me more than seeing a huge pile of dishes in the sink as I work. It is so hard to get started with work when I know there are so many chores to do around the house. This is why it’s vital to keep up on household chores. I’m not saying you have to do all the work (and you shouldn’t) but every night before bed make sure the sink is empty, toys are picked up, and the floor is swept. Make your bed the first thing in the morning. Basically, keep your home maintained every day so you don’t have to take hours away from important projects.
Take a Day
Sometimes you have to make a doctor’s appointment. Sometimes you have to run an errand during business hours. I like to choose a day of the week to do all of these things. It’s kind of like batching. For example, I will only set appointments for Fridays. Any other errands I have to run will be saved for Friday as well. If these errands are things you can do after work, do it then even if it means loading the kids up in the car. You’ll thank yourself the next day for getting the work done.
Stop Doing List
As important as it is to make goal lists and to do lists, it can be equally effective to make “Stop Doing” lists. This can include getting on Facebook during the work day for personal pleasure. Maybe you need to stop making your to do list in the morning instead of the night before. Pair this with your to do list and you will look like a productivity genius!
For more productivity tips, check out my Be Productive board on Pinterest!
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