It kind of goes without saying that you need a designated place to work. It should be the same place everyday so your brain gets into “work mode” when you get there. When I had my second baby, we had to turn our 3rd bedroom into his nursery, so I downsized tremendously, my desk went into the garage and all of my things went into a tiny closet. I lovingly referred to that tiny closet as “my office.” I organized it well and knew where all of my files were, but pulled out what I needed – my computer and notebook – and sat at the kitchen table. Even if you don’t have a full room you can dedicate to your office, find some sort of spot that you can set up to be productive. I didn’t need to sit in the closet in order to get work done, but opening it up and getting my things out of it, got my brain into work mode. Additionally, putting everything away in there, shut my work mode off.
Know your distractions
You must get clear with what distracts you from getting work done when you are home. For me, it’s dishes and laundry. I can’t stand it. What ever it is for you – take care of it before your work day starts. Make sure all dishes are done the night before, coffee pot is ready and you’ve planned out your day. If laundry is an issue for you, start a load before bed, start the dryer in the morning when you wake up, and try to hold off on folding until after you’ve finished your work. (I can hear you now, “haha, oh Stephanie, finish my work… hahaha.)
Revenue Generating Activities
If you haven’t created a Revenue Generation Activites List, it’s time to do so. When you are working for yourself, you probably have a massive to-do list, but you need to have a separate list of Rev Gen Activities. Things you do to directly make you money. These activities should be worked on during your day. Nothing makes your day feel more wasted then working on things that don’t produce income. Don’t make this mistake. Working from home is hard enough, but if you feel like you didn’t make any headway on income producing – it can feel much worse.
Use a timer
This is a simple trick but a very effective one. You, no doubt, have projects that you’ve been working on and would like to see finished. Pick a project or portion of one, set a timer and GO. You are racing against the clock to make as much headway as you can. Distractions and task switching are not allowed here. Once the timer goes off, feel free to refill the coffee cup, check email, text your mom back, etc. When you can make progress on your projects, you will feel more productive. Feeling more productive makes working from home a lot easier.
Get help at home
If you have a family, it’s ok to lean on them to help. Study after study show how women take on the lion’s share of household duties and childcare while working full time. I’d venture to say that it’s even more difficult when you are at home working vs. being out of the house working. The messes and chores are staring you in the face. It’s so hard to be productive like that. Get help. It’s ok to hire someone to come once every week or so to scrub down the bathrooms and floors. It’s ok to hire a nanny to watch your kids for a few hours a day so you can work. It’s ok to hire a dog walker to take Fido out for a bit of exercise. It’s ok to ask your family members to tidy up before bed because you know it’ll set your tomorrow up better. It’s ok. Ask for help or hire it out.
Prepare the night before
The night before is crucial if you want to be productive while working from home. If you can go into your home office, shut the door and ignore the mess, you’re golden. If not, don’t let things wait until morning to get done. Every night clean up what you need to clean up, set out what you need to set out. Minimize your distractions the night before. It’s easier to clean up the dishes at the end of the day than the next morning when you need to be getting work done.
Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery. Sometimes, the mess and distractions are just too big. Get out! These things will have to wait until later. If you feel overwhelmed by what needs to be done at home – get to a coffee shop, stat. If you find yourself getting super distracted more often than not, you might want to find a co-working space in your area to go to. Working from home might be too distracting. It’s best to know what kind of environment works best for you to get things done and run with it.