I’ve always been blessed. When my mom immigrated to the United States, I was 7. She went from working 40+ hours as a doctor to being a stay at home mom. If you know any doctors, you know they can’t stay still for long. So she began doing telemedicine; this was before we even knew what telemedicine was. She did online consultations via skype all over the world and helped countless people, all while being home.
So since I was little, the 9-5 work-life never appealed to me, and I had a role model that showed me it was possible to work from home and to provide for your family while being productive and happy.
Fast forward to my high school years, I started my first business when I was 16, a tutoring service, and yes, I worked from home. The second business, marketing company, and yes, I worked from home. The only time working from home wasn’t an option was when I had to conform to my business partner’s military mindset of a 9-5, sit in the office, to be considered like you’re working.
Now working from home isn’t for everybody, some people require a structure that they can’t give themselves, and let’s be real when you’re at home distractions are everywhere. Netflix, food, pets, kids, significant others are all distractions that can cause working from home to be extremely unproductive.
Here are my top tips on how I stay productive while working from home:
1) Set a schedule
This sounds pretty simple but it’s a crucial step in making sure you’re productive. But here is the trick, don’t set a schedule that is a 9-5 schedule.
My Daily Schedule:
6am – Get Up
6:15-7:15 – Read (Or listen to your favorite podcast, audiobook, or even a youtube video)
7:15 – 8:00 – Walk my dog, pet my cat, make some coffee ☕
8:00 – 10:00 – Work (This is my most productive time and I like to work in 2 hr intervals)
10:00 – 11:00 – Workout
11:00-11:30 – Make Breakfast ( This takes me some time lol, I make elaborate bowls)
11:30 -12:30 – Eat and watch my current show
12:30-2:30 – Work
3:00 – 3:30 – Go for a walk or meditate
3:30 – 5:30 – Work – finish up any emails, set up calls, work on any side items I’m working on, follow up with my employees.
5:30 -7:30 – Family/Dinner Time
7:30 – 8:30 – Go for a walk with my mom
8:30 – 10 – Side Hustle Time ( Whether I’m creating blogs, designs for my store, or a new project)
10:00 – 10:30 – Chill, watch a show, go to bed.
Now, this schedule works for me because I’m more productive in small intervals, and I recharge in between those working sessions. And this schedule changes if I have calls, meetings, or an event. Also, if I’m on a creative roll, I sometimes won’t take a break for 4-5 hrs unless it’s to grab a tea or coffee.
Design a schedule for yourself that gives you a good balance between working and doing the things you love. This increase the production of serotonin and improves your mood and productivity.
2) Create a workspace that best fits your needs
Where you do your work is just as important as when and how you work. If there are distractions around, or you are in a chaotic environment, the work you do may reflect your distractions. Set aside a space in your home that you will just be doing work. When you get to that space, only do work and try to avoid other tasks. That way, when you get to that area, you are in a working mindset and can focus on just work.
If possible, try and make this space away from places where you usually relax in your home. This will keep work and home life separate so that when you are relaxing, you aren’t thinking about work, and vice versa. On a similar note, do your best not to multitask with other activities while working. Keep non-work tasks away from your workspace to avoid distractions.
When setting up your space, make it personalized to your needs! Create spaces for miscellaneous papers and notes, pens and pencils, and anything else you many need. Create somewhere well lit with natural lighting. Try not to over-decorate and overcrowd your space. Try and keep snacks away from your desk to avoid distractions. But keep water to stay hydrated!
3) Take productive breaks
Knowing when to take a break plays a crucial role in staying on task. What you do on your break can also change how productive you are during work time. For example, if you play a game on your phone or watch TV during a break, you are less likely to return to work on time and less likely to return to work very motivated. However, if during your break, you take a walk outside or play with a pet when you return to action, you are likely to feel very refreshed and ready to work.
What you do on your break is only part of the importance of actually taking a break. Knowing when to take a break is extremely important to the timing of your day. You can schedule out an amount of time to take a break, however, scheduling when your actual break maybe is not ideal. If you are in a groove of working, and a scheduled break is coming up, you are not maximizing your work time.
A good time to know when you need a break is if you find yourself sitting at your workspace, clicking between tasks, and not accomplishing anything. This would be an excellent time to go for a walk or take a small break to encourage your mind and body to re-engage.
4) Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself may seem simple, but it can go a long way in staying productive. Rewarding yourself is different for everyone; for example, I’ll reward myself by going for a walk, cooking my favorite meal, or watching a show. This is unique to you and what you enjoy. Incentivizing productivity with things you love is a great way to help increase efficiency.
Some ways rewards may look:
- Treat yourself to a special desert after a hard day of work.
- Watch that movie you have always wanted to see in between some frustrating tasks in the day
- Go on a special trip once you finish a long project or sign a new client
- Have a sweet treat every 2-3 hours of productive work – my favorite is a homemade granola bar. Healthy and delicious ?
5) Good and Healthy Sleep Schedule
Sleeping is so important when you work hard all day. However, getting enough sleep can be just as important as when you sleep. If you are sleeping 4 hours at night and then taking a 4-hour nap, you may be getting 8 hours, but that schedule may be throwing off your productivity. Sleeping for extended amounts of time in the day may make you more tired than not napping at all. In your planned schedule, try and create 8+ hours as designated sleep time, ensuring you account for those nights you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Working from home can be tough, but it is also a great way to do things we never thought we would have the time to do! Working from home allows you to take time for yourself and take a step back from the busy world we used to live in. Staying productive while working and relaxing when we need is a great thing that we must learn to love.
This is not the end of growing in our careers, jobs, or businesses; instead, it is just the beginning. Growing just looks a little different nowadays!