If you’re like me —living the life of an entrepreneur— then I guess you don’t need me to tell you that this work is tough. It can be difficult being your own CEO, CFO, and manager without anyone telling you what to do and when to do it. What’s even more difficult is avoiding all the distractions and temptations that are always at your disposal because you work from home. Finding ways to weed out your distractions and stay productive will be a challenge for anyone in this situation, especially when you could just sit on the couch and binge watch your favorite movies all day instead of working.
So how do I stay productive when I work from home? Through trial and error, I have learned a few ways that have proven to be effective and here they are.
If you want to be more productive when you work from home, I suggest implementing these five strategies into your daily routine. It may take some getting used to and it won’t work right away. It takes time, patience, and practice before you’ll start seeing progress in your daily production.
1. Set a Schedule
When I say to set a schedule, I don’t mean time-blocking. In fact, recent studies have shown that setting a strict schedule can damage your rate of productivity. Instead of setting a schedule which only allows a certain time to work on your daily assignments, I decided to implement different ways to “set a schedule.”
The first thing I decided to do was to get started early. If you’re more of a night owl, then getting up at 6 a.m. may not be your cup of tea. Especially if it means rolling out of bed and turning on your computer screen. However, getting up at the same time every day sets the pace for routine. This is an effective strategy in itself. And those who get up early, tend to be more successful the earlier they wake up.
You don’t have to get started working right away necessarily. For example, you can get up at 8 a.m. and use the first thirty minutes to brew a cup of coffee and enjoy a short read. I find that reading up on something pertaining to business or just the local news works better than reading a work of fiction or something that acts as an escape from reality. But reading should open up your mind and get your brain busy before your workday starts.
In lieu of writing an exact schedule, I also make a To-Do List. Make sure your list is realistic. I typically write down a maximum of five work-related tasks that I know I can get done, as opposed to ten tasks I want to get done.
Also be sure to prioritize this list. What emails have you been meaning to send, what tasks need to be done first? To decrease the amount of stress that comes with procuring a To-Do List, I try to schedule tasks to be completed a day or two before they are meant to be finalized.
2. Declutter for More Productivity
Having a clean space to work in was really a game-changer for me. And it makes sense; any place of work is expected to be clean and organized. This is for the benefit of the customers as well as the employees. You know how frustrated you get when you go shopping and the shirts are all unfolded or the sizes aren’t in the proper place on the rack? Imaging going into a restaurant and there are no clean tables, sometimes you might just walk out, right? The same mentality works for your office space.
Decluttering your work from home area will help you stay organized. And in retrospect, amp up the rate you produce your work. In addition to keeping the area in your general range of view tidy, I also recommend investing in some good storage bins to keep any tangible documents or items filed. Knowing exactly where to find what you need will save you time on searching. By keeping your general work area clear of any degree with deplete your urge to tidy up, which ultimately increases your productivity.
Women have even expressed depression and anxiety from living in a cluttered space. Decluttering is a viable and healthy step to take to improve your work mentality.
3. Create An Office
Before I finally settled on an actual office, I would just set up shop wherever I felt like being that day. On Mondays, I would work at a local coffee shop, every now and then I would work from my bed, and then when I really wanted to focus I would sit at my actual desk.
Except, I started to realize that because I changed up my “office” so much, I wasn’t getting as much work done. If the coffee shop got too loud, I would have to drive back home and re-setup my space which could take as long as an hour. On the days I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work, I would bide my time until a decision was made, which wasted even more time. Moving your work environment on a regular basis only diminishes your rate of productivity.
Create an office space that is clean, easily accessible, and stick to it. Make sure it is equipped with all the tools you will need for your line of work, and make sure it’s organized. Pick the place where you have the least amount of distractions and somewhere that fuels your creativity. I also suggest picking an area where you will be partially secluded. Even if you prefer working in a public area, try to create a sense of privacy to deter any possible distractions.
4. Turn Off Social Media
We all know how addicting social media can be. Whether you’re flipping through travel photos on Instagram or reading up on the local news on Facebook, social media is the gateway to distraction. My advice?
Turn it off.
If you use social media as a part of your work, utilize your computer or laptop to navigate these websites. You can even use apps like Freedom to limit the amount of time you spend on these websites. Once you hit your limit, you’re blocked for the day. You can easily turn off notifications on your phone or set time limits to “snooze” certain platforms during your work hours.
You don’t have to hide from the draws of social media all day, though. Anytime I take a break to eat or walk my dog, I’ll allow myself ten minutes or so to catch up on the daily buzz. It’s a hard habit to break, but once you get into your usual work from home flow, this temptation too shall pass.
5. Get Up and Move
Sometimes you just need to stand up. Sitting too long can make you feel tired and drained of energy. That is bad for productivity, so you can get a standing desk converter like the one I have from Flexispot. It’s perfect for changing from a sitting position to a standing position with ease. If simply standing up doesn’t help, get outside and get some fresh air. Fresh air and a change of scenery are great for waking you up so that you can get back to work.
Now Get Started
Issac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “Objects in motion, stay in motion,” applies directly to an entrepreneur’s pathway to productivity. In short, if you just keep moving, you will get more work done. Sounds simple, right? And the way to keep moving is by implementing all of the strategies I’ve outlined for you here. Set a schedule, declutter, pick a place to work, and limit your distractions (with social media being the highest culprit).
That To-Do List is a helpful tool in this step because works as a physical reminder (yes, you should actually write down or print out your list) of what needs to get done that day. The more you have to do, the more you will get done. Once you start checking off those tasks on your list, the more productive you will feel. It’s simple steps like that they will encourage you to push forward.
I know we all have those days where we ask ourselves whether or not going back to a regular 9-5 job would be better suited for our lifestyles. It can be difficult to be the advocate for your own productivity when you work from home. But trust me, once you get into the groove of things, you’ll start to notice an improvement in your work ethic and pace. Just keep going. You’ve got this.
Here the corresponding video on YouTube with even more tips: