Working From Home and Maximizing Productivity
Many business owners, new and experienced, suffer at some point with working from home. This can be a dream come true for most, being able to get out of bed in the morning and go right into your office. If you already work from home or planning to do so in the future, here are a few tips to help you with the transition or to improve your productivity.
It is very easy to walk downstairs in your pajamas, grab a cup of coffee and sit down at the computer. Getting dressed makes you feel as if you've woken up and are ready to work. I do not get dressed up as if I was going to a business meeting; I put on my "dressy sweatpants" every day so I am comfortable. Getting dressed makes me feel awake and ready to start the day. Staying in your pajamas can make you feel sleepy, and can easily lead to an unproductive day. So, take a shower, wash your face, make some breakfast - do a typical morning routine before you begin that will make you feel alive and ready to be productive!
As a workaholic this one I definitely still struggle with! It is important to take breaks throughout the day get some fresh air and really just do a mind reset. I feel more productive afterwards, even if they are only for five minutes. Sometimes, I even forget to EAT (which is just ridiculous). I am a fan of time blocking, so if you need reminders, set them in your calendar. While I do generally eat my breakfast at my desk, I have made a great habit of eating my lunch in my kitchen and watching a little television. This takes me away from work, and I am more focused afterwards and excited to begin the afternoon.
When I worked a corporate job, I ate more fast food at lunch, and snacked more during the day. Overall for me eating better has been much easier when I started working from home. However, I know many who struggle with this, because they have a full pantry and refrigerator at their disposal. Luckily for me, it just my husband and I, so I keep our house stocked with more healthy treats than unhealthy ones to avoid the "binge eating". Try to keep healthier alternatives easily available for when you need to snack.
Make Time for Yourself + Family
When working from home and running your own business, you have a flexible schedule. Without proper monitoring, this can easily get out of control. Make sure you schedule time for yourself to work out, take a walk, play with your kids or dogs, etc. In the article Amazing Routines of 7 Successful Entrepreneurs, one of my favorite items posted was "Take the Middle of the Day Off". I started doing this a few times per week, and I can already see the benefits. I take longer breaks around 2:30 - 3:00 p.m., and this has helped tremendously. During wedding season when I am busy, this can become more difficult but when I come back after working out or running an errand, I feel more energized and can easily be as productive from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. as I was in the morning. Also, I always eat dinner with my husband - no matter how busy I am. If I need to work a little in the evening, that's fine, but dinner time is quality time.
Create a Scheduled Routine
I absolutely love getting up the morning, feeding my dogs, and going right into my office - I feel that I am most productive between 8 - 10 a.m. I use this time to get important things done, and I have an example of my general schedule below:
7:30 - 9:00 a.m. Client emails & design work
9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Schedule social media with Buffer; create blog ideas
9:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:45 - 1:00 p.m. Print orders
1:00 p.m. Lunch
My afternoons vary; I generally finish up with printing orders, work on my letterpress, or write blog posts. I will also check emails in the afternoon and respond to any clients, as well as prep any orders that are being shipped the next day. I feel that keeping a general routine makes it easier and less overwhelming to small business owners who where many hats (like I do). Find your most productive time of the day, and time block important items during that period to get the maximum productivity. For me, my client emails slow down quite a bit in the afternoon, which becomes a perfect time to write a blog post or brainstorm about design ideas.
Have Your Own Space
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a door to your office or studio when you work from home; even if you are running your business part time at night. Mentally, shutting the door at the end of the day symbolizes that I am done, and it's time to turn my brain off. I also do not work in any other parts of my home for this very reason. When you have rough days, and you are working in your living room, bedroom or kitchen it becomes very difficult to let it go and relax. I was this example earlier in the year; I used to check my emails from my bed right before I went to sleep and first thing when I woke up in the morning. To solve this, I turned my work email off on my iPad to avoid sleep deprivation and anxiety. My bedroom is now the place where I relax, and I am not allowed to work there. If you live in a small place and are finding it difficult to have your own space with a door, there are a few solutions. You can also have a spare bedroom double as your office, or utilize a closet that has a door if you have one large enough to fit a desk. I have a friend who is also short on space, and uses a curtain in her bedroom to separate the space, so she cannot visually see her desk, computer, etc. while she is trying to sleep.
Another great motivator is set up the office space to be visually appealing to you. A clean, organized space is inviting, so dress it up a little with a few of your favorite things. After all, if you work full time from home this is the one place that you spend most of your time. Make it yours!
Stay Away From the Couch
I have had a few friends comment to me that if they worked from home, they would be on the couch all day. For me, this is easy - stay away from the couch. Period. Do not work from the couch, or while watching television, etc. as there probably isn't a bigger distraction than this. My living room is the place where I snuggle with my dogs at night, converse with my husband, watch television and relax. I do not enter my living room during the work day, I keep it strictly in my studio.
I will be the first one to admit it - when my husband works from home as well those are the days I am least productive. I personally work better in silence, and with no one else around who can interrupt me. If you are a mom as well, finding a sitter for a few hours a day can really make that the most productive time; or, waiting until they go to bed may work as well. Try to avoid distractions as much as possible, and schedule around those times. Keeping focused is very important to make the most of your time; having your own space with a door also really helps with this!