Working from home can be harder than it looks. After many years of doing it I’ve learned some of the best ways to make it as productive as possible.
Dedicate a Working Space:
This is my #1 tip! You must carve a working space out for yourself if you truly want to pursue productivity. I couldn’t put a desk in my apartment until one roommate moved out (taking furniture with her) and following that, my current two roommates were kind enough to allow me to take a portion of our living room and put a (teeny tiny) desk into the corner. I’m forever grateful for this space!
For the first two months of self-employment, I worked from my bed or my couch and that was dismal. I was unproductive, often would stay in PJs, had horrible posture and then never quite “turned off.” My bed was no longer a place for sleep. I am so excited every morning to wake up and sit down at my desk to take calls, ship proposals, write, tackle my to do list and have a dedicated space that is all things wit & whimsy // my consulting business. Take time to give yourself the tools you need as well. I’ve rounded up cute office supplies to make your space as cute as it is functional at home below, too!
Be Smart about Scheduling:
I talked to a lot of friends before I left the corporate world to be self-employed and Grace was one of the first people I reached out to as I consider her a queen of productivity and prioritization. One of the best tips she gave me was to try and avoid scheduling meetings on Mondays and after practicing this habit, I totally get why! When you avoid meetings on Mondays you can power through your to do list in a way that feels so.darn.good! You finish your Monday feeling super productive. Mondays have become days for me that involve financial management (invoicing/expenses/etc.), quite a bit of blog writing for wit & whimsy and emailing with and reporting for clients. Every now and then I do have to take a call or do a shoot but I try and do it either early or late in the day so I can work without interruption for a large portion of the mid-day. Sometimes I also take advantage of running errands or doing my grocery shopping or laundry first thing Monday morning as well. I truly love Mondays now you guys!
This may sound obvious but there’s actually research that shows your ability to be more productive when you’ve changed from PJs into “real” clothes. Let’s be honest, I’ve definitely had days where I am in my pajamas till 4pm or days where the only clothes I’ve put on is athleisure, but in general I do get dressed in the morning. I am always a big fan of breakfast meetings as it allows me to get ready fully in the morning, out the door and then settle back into my desk and finish out the day. Even if you don’t put an ounce of makeup on or brush your hair, put proper clothes on and then get down to business for the day!
Establish Your “Office” Resources:
One of the biggest adjustments I’ve had with moving from an office to working from home full time is not having access to an office services team or mailroom! I used to print documents to review pretty frequently (I’m a big fan of annotating!) but nowadays I’m without a printer, scanner or a closet full of office supplies. I found some great virtual tools that help (favorites include DocHub, PDFMerge, DropBox, Google Drive, Zoom, and Quickbooks). That being said, I recommend asking other self-employed friends what some of their favorite resources are. A lot of other freelancers were hugely helpful in helping me get my “toolbox” ready to work from home.
This was a tip I heeded from my friend Julia who stressed the importance of giving yourself a lunch break. When I was so insanely busy in August, I was a mad woman starting work at 6AM and often powering through till midnight with hardly any breaks. I might have fit in a workout class but that was it and let me tell you, that’s not healthy behavior! I now take a lunch break – whether that is 5 minutes or 45 minutes – it’s an important portion of my day to reset.
Another break I demand is drinking water and having an afternoon snack. When I worked at an office I used to visit the kitchen to hydrate and chat with coworkers but when I started working at home I realized I wasn’t drinking hardly any H2O. I now keep my Swell bottle on my desk and force myself to drink 2 full bottles a day. The office kitchen is also where I’d seek out an afternoon pick me up treat. Nowadays I’m working on healthier snacking at home.
Finally, if I’m feeling like I need a break to get outdoors and have some fresh air, I pick one errand in the neighborhood I can run and do this in the afternoon. It may be going to get lunch (but I do this much more rarely than when I worked at an office), it could be going to my P.O. Box or it could be running to the drugstore for something I need. It doesn’t really matter the activity but as long as I’m getting outside, it’s a huge mental refresh. An alternative to this if you have clients in the area in which you work, ask to meet over coffee instead of the phone so you’re getting out of the house for a bit!
Set Office Hours:
Just because you don’t have a commute doesn’t mean you should be working extra long days. Be sure you retain some sanity by having usual office hours. Establish a beginning and end of the day. I find that pausing my inboxes is hugely helpful in doing this.
Mix it Up:
Just because you “work from home” doesn’t mean you can’t seek other office spaces on occasion. I generally am not a fan of the coffee shop workplace so I seek out other environments when I’m feeling like I need an atmosphere reset for some new inspiration. I’ll work from the lobby of a neighborhood hotel or from a client’s office or even a friend’s co-working space. By mixing up your workspace you may find a rhythm that works well for you and your creative inspiration.
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For those of you that work from home, have any other tips? I still consider myself a newbie so would love any other recommendations you guys might have! And hope you found the above helpful 🙂
Helpful Work From Home Office Supplies:
p.s. here are even more good work habits to practice.