I go to an office for my full-time job every day, but for more than three years now I’ve been blogging as a side-hustle from my home. And many others are full-time entrepreneurs working from home, or have a job that allows them to work remotely. As amazing as working from home sounds (hello, yoga pants all the time?) it can also make it really difficult to stay focused and stay productive.
In the last three years, I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to continue to be productive while working from home. Here’s what you need to know!
HOW TO STAY PRODUCTIVE WORKING FROM HOME
Turn Off Distractions
When you’re working from home, there are SO many potential distractions. First of all, you might be super tempted to turn on the TV. I can confidently tell you that having the TV on while I’m working can extend the time it takes to write one blog post from about one hour to about four hours. Not good. Trust me, I’ve done that all too many times. I also try to avoid listening to podcasts because I’ll get sucked in (or end up completely missing the podcast).
Your home is also filled with all the cleaning you need to get done. As far as cleaning, the only cleaning I let myself do during designated blogging time is laundry because it’s easy to throw something in the washing machine and work while the clothes wash. Otherwise, I swear I get up from my desk and two hours pass because I notice ALL the things that need to be done around the house.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely keep a (mostly) clean home, but I do that cleaning during a time I specifically designated on my calendar for cleaning!
Have a Designated Workspace
I spent my first couple of years blogging from the couch in my living room, and I can tell you that it wasn’t nearly as productive work as I do now, having a designated workspace. Some might work on the couch and do just fine, but I need something a little more structured.
I currently live in a 500 square foot studio apartment, so no, I don’t have a designated office. However, I do have a table that is solely for blogging. It’s where I have my computer set up with anything else I use for blogging. It’s also facing away from the TV, so I’m never tempted to watch TV while I’m working.
It’s 100% not about have a cute office set up in an entire room completely designated to work. It’s about having an area where you KNOW you’ll be able to focus on JUST your work.
Sit Down With a Plan
When I sit down in the evening to work on my business, I typically only have a couple of hours at a time to work. So if I’m spending the first 20 minutes trying to figure out what I need to get done and making a to-do list, I’m not using this time productively at all.
Instead, what I typically do is sit down on the weekend and figure out all the business tasks I need to get done for the week, and then I write out my to-do list for each evening. This way when I do sit down with just a couple of hours to work, I can dive right in and skip the planning stage.
And I don’t just make a to-do list and hope I get to everything. I figure out what needs to get done and I actually SCHEDULE those things out on my calendar! My Google Calendar is everything. My workouts are on there, my time to work on my business is on there, my social life is on there – seriously, everything!
Whether you’re working from home for your full-time job or just doing it in the evenings for a side hustle, it can be a lot harder to set boundaries with friends and family. When you go to an office every day, it’s a lot easier for people to understand that you aren’t available because you’re working.
Be upfront with friends and family about what your work hours are and that when you’re working from home, you’re still unavailable.
Boundaries go both ways, however. Work you work from home, it’s easy to pick up and start working anytime, when you’ve got a spare few minutes here and there. That’s totally fine, but try not to let work bleed into every area of your life and distract you from your other priorities like family and self-care.
When I’m at my day job, there are a lot of natural distractions that pop up throughout the day. Rarely do I have an extended period of the day where I’m just hunkered down at my desk focused on one thing. I am interrupted frequently by phone calls, people stopping by my office, and planned or unplanned meetings.
When I’m working from home, however, there aren’t those natural distractions. No co-workers to talk to, no meetings to attend, no work calls to take. Because of this I can spend way longer zoned in on a project.
In many ways, this is a great thing. I can be super productive. But I tend to not be as productive in the long run because I get burned out quicker on one project without getting to all the other projects I wanted to work on. Instead, I like to work some breaks into my work time so I’m coming back to the computer with a refreshed mind.
A great way to implement this is by using the Pomodoro Technique. You set a timer and do super focused work for 25 minutes. Seriously, NO distractions. Put your phone somewhere else and close the other tabs on your computer. And after 25 minutes of focused work, you take a 5-minute break. If you’ve got a project that’s going to take more than 25 minutes, you just repeat this a few times for the same project.
It doesn’t have to look JUST like this. You can set the timer for longer than 25 minutes. When it comes to productivity, there’s no one size fits all. It’s all about trying strategies that have worked for other people and adapting them to fit into your own life.
Know When You Are Most Productive
This piece of advice won’t be relevant to everyone working from home because some of you are working your regular 9-5 remotely and still need to fit your work into regular business hours. I’m the opposite. I have a full-time job during the day and when I’m working at home, it’s for my side-hustle.
Because I am busy at my full-time job during the day, my work from home time is limited to mornings, evenings, and weekends. Some people work well in the morning and I know lots of bloggers who make it a practice to get up two hours earlier each morning to work. I am not one of these people and I KNOW I would not be productive at 6 am. Just rolling out of bed at my normal time is a challenge for me and I usually hit snooze a few times!
Instead, I do my blogging work at night because I know this is when I’ll be able to focus the best. When I know I have plans anytime during the week, I make sure to reserve the rest of the evenings for blog work. I know those are the hours where I can sit down and pump out a few hours of SUPER focused work without feeling easily distracted.
BEFORE YOU GO
Whether you’re working from home or working in an office, staying productive can definitely be a challenge at times. We ALL struggle with it at times. But I’ve been doing this whole working from home thing for a few years now, and I’ve learned a lot! The strategies I shared above have made a BIG difference in my productivity!
Do you work from home? How do you make sure to stay productive? I want to know!