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 10 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.
Here the corresponding video on YouTube with even more tips:
1. Set a Schedule to Increase Productivity
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 that 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 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? Or imagine 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 the home area will help you stay organized. And in retrospect, it will 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. Use them to keep any tangible documents or items filed.
Knowing exactly where to find what you need saves you time because you won’t need to dig in and search. Keeping your general work area clear of any debris will 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. Then, when I really wanted to focus, I would sit at my actual desk.
That’s when 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. That 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 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 also 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. 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’s really 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.
RELATED: What Is Social Media Branding?
There are a few times throughout the year when my business hits a downturn. It usually happens towards the end of the year, and then it will pick back up in January.
Any time you are experiencing slower months in your business, there is still plenty you can do to stay productive.
The first thing I like to do when client work starts to slow down is to do some general housekeeping.
Deep Clean Your Desk
The absolute first thing I recommend you do is to clean up your desk. I already mentioned decluttering, but this time, be a little more thorough. You need to go through every loose post-it note in your desk, throw away anything you don’t need, and maybe even think about updating your work equipment.
Organize Your Finances
Once that’s all organized, you can start working on the fun stuff: business finances! (can you sense the sarcasm?)
Pull out your profit sheets and expense sheets and make a new P&L document. Once you do that, you can decide whether or not you can invest in that new desktop computer. Now you’ll be able to see if you have enough capital to start outsourcing so that you can scale your business. While this should be done on a regular basis anyway, you can at least utilize this time to start thinking about your long-term business goals.
SEO Your Blogs
Another minor bit of housekeeping I like to do once a year is reworking my blogs. This means cleaning up my blogs a little and making sure they are all search engine optimized. Sometimes I’ll even go back in and add a few more sections to the blog and reshare it on my social accounts just to give my audience an updated perspective. Plus, I have found that this really improves your website’s overall SEO. Like… a ton.
7. Work on Your Content Calendar
I have been working on my own social media for a few years now, which means I have my content worked out to a science.
It is always a good idea to try to get new content for your blogs, social media, or YouTube. But before you can do that, you need to actually plan out your content calendar.
I use monday.com for all of my content planning. My online stuff is planned out month by month. This makes it so that I’m staying relatively active and on top of trends, while also giving me a set schedule for the month. Working from home typically means you rarely get to work with a set schedule, so my content calendar acts as my focal point to keep my business on track.
I have one section dedicated to my social media schedule, one for my IGTV plans and ideas, another for my blog schedule, and one last one for trending topics and picture ideas. If you don’t want to use a third-party platform like Monday, Google Sheets or a regular Excel document works just as well!
You can even print it out and hang it above your desk to really make sure you stay productive while working from home.
8. Take New Photos for Social Media
Even if you’ve taken my advice to hire a personal branding photographer, you can never have enough photos on hand for social media. I’ve said this before, but not all of your social media photos need to be professionally curated. Our iPhones are high quality enough these days that you can’t even tell the difference sometimes!
When I have some free time in my work schedule, I like to dedicate an entire day to get new photos for Instagram or for my blog. You can take whatever type of photos you like— just make sure to refer to your content calendar for guidance. You can take flat lay photos, self-portraits, or even shoot a few IGTV videos.
What I usually like to do is set my iPhone up on a tripod (you can also just lean it up against some books) and turn on the self-timer. I do not recommend selfies for your business social media accounts! Make sure you switch up your outfits, try a couple of different poses, and take some shots in different places around your house.
9. Work on New Designs
One way I like to stay productive while working from home during a downturn is to work on new designs. This can be anything from new Instagram templates to restructuring the way I write my blogs. It’s also the perfect opportunity to try out new things like graphics for your videos! Or you can spend some time doing research for graphic experts in case you want to outsource.
If you’re still working on your personal brand, this might be the right time for you to finally decide on your business logo and overall design. Since you have already worked on your finances (right??), you can decide how much you are going to spend on a logo designer.
Or you can just go all in and hire a personal branding strategist (that’s me!). I actually help all my clients figure out their logo and brand identity. This includes your personal branding colors, fonts… the works. I’ll also help you design a new online profile bio and your social media aesthetic, among a few other overlooked aspects of your personal brand design.
10. Give Your Website a Makeover
If you already have a website going for your business, kudos to you! Setting up a website is a lot harder than it seems, even with the newest drag and drop sites like Wix and Squarespace.
However, if your website still has .wordpress or .wixsite.com included with your URL, it’s time for a website makeover. That starts with buying your own domain, which is only about $10-15 per year. I do recommend getting a private domain, if not your personal contact information (name, address, phone, and email) will be shared publicly if anyone does a who.is lookup for your domain.
If you already have your own URL and you have made sure your blogs have SEO, take a look at your website as a whole. Is it time for a makeover?
Reorganizing your website will not only give you tons to do, but it actually helps your website SEO. Go through and switch up your website copy, or hire an expert to redesign the look of your website altogether.
Your website is a key selling point for your business. If it looks too outdated, it’s hard to navigate, or it’s not mobile-friendly, you are going to lose potential customers. Use this productive time to spruce up your website.
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 an advocate for yourself when you work from home. But trust me, once you get into the groove of things, you’ll start to notice long term improvement in your work ethic, pace, and productivity. Just keep going. You’ve got this.