I’ve been working from home (I have my own freelance business) for 2 years now and have established some habits that really help me to buckle down and be productive.
I thought I’d share some of the habits I’ve found to be helpful for anyone who currently works from home or is considering it in the future. Many of these are also relevant to anyone who works in an office. These all applied to me before my daughter was born, and albeit the game has changed quite a bit once I threw a baby into the mix, these rules still apply. I’d like to do a follow-up post with specifics that apply to only work-from-home parents as well.
Here are 11 habits for work-at-home productivity:
1. Get ready for the day
I don’t care if a single soul isn’t going to see you, you still need to get ready for the day. You will feel better and more motivated.
My usual routine is a minimal of brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on a little makeup, and changing out of my pajamas. My rule of thumb is to be dressed enough so I won’t be embarrassed if I need to answer the door. I am actually more productive when I am comfortable (jeans aren’t my favorite), so my go-to “work” outfits typically revolve around my beloved yoga leggings and soft shirts/sweaters. The key for me tends to be in wearing more well-fitted clothing; I try to avoid wearing anything too baggy, as that has the potential to make me feel like a slob.
2. Set aside time to do chores
I’m not about to tell you to avoid doing anything around the house during the workday. Heck, having your work breaks (you need to take a break anyway!) double as time to get chores done is one of the #1 benefits of working from home. The trick is to not become distracted by all that needs to be done around the house. What helps me is to set aside 5-10 minutes every 1-2 hours to take a break from work and then I use that time to take a break from my computer screen and throw in a load of laundry, chop up some veggies for dinner, or tidy up a bit.
However, if you think you’re going to get bogged down by starting anything around the house, create a rule for yourself that no housework is to be completed during your set working hours.
3. Drinks lots of water
I’m sure I don’t need to list all of the health benefits of drinking enough water for you. I have my trusty water bottle that is always by my side to help me keep on track with my water intake. The bigger, the better because it’s less time you spend filling it up throughout the day. Staying well-hydrated allows you to remain focused and your mind to be more crisp. Not getting enough fluids can leave you feeling foggy. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
4. Listen to music
Unless you are working on something that requires your utmost focus, having a bit of music in the background can be a good way to get you pumped up and keep you in an upbeat mood. Depending on what I’m working on, the right music can even get me working more quickly.
5. Noise cancelling headphones
If you can swing it, they truly make a world of difference. I’m very sensitive to noises and can become easily distracted by even a dog barking outside, particularly if I’m writing. My hubby got me these headphones 4 years ago for my birthday, and it’s been the gift that keeps on giving! Good headphones help me keep my sanity and stay on track.
6. Have a healthy lunch
No, a burger and fries isn’t going to cut it. It sounds like a duh suggestion, but it really does make a difference in preventing a post-lunch energy crash. Healthy food = fuel to power through your afternoons instead of being slumped over your keyboard barely keeping your eyes open.
7. Take a midday break
Whether it’s an hour to read, get some exercise, play with your kids, or just sit and enjoy your lunch….you need it! Take a break away from your computer, your eyes will thank you. In spring/summer/fall I enjoy going for leisurely walks around lunchtime to get my blood pumping and clear my mind a bit. The extra sunshine always does wonders for my spirit too!
8. Create a dedicated workspace
Whether it’s an office or a little desk stuck in the corner of your bedroom, it really does help to have a space that is dedicated for the sole purpose of getting work done. Transitioning from life to work can be a bit difficult when both are done under the same roof, so having some consistency in regards to where your work gets done can really help you get into the working mindset when you need to hunker down.
9. Set boundaries
Set a precedent that your scheduled work time is only for working. Whether it’s letting your kids know that you are unavailable to play during that time, or letting friends know that you aren’t free for impromptu chats, it will really help to set boundaries between your personal and work life. Otherwise you end up feeling frustrated by the lack of work you’re getting done and left with disappointed loved ones who aren’t sure when they can connect with you.
10. Minimize potential distractions
- Put your phone on silent and resist the urge to check texts or missed calls
- Don’t check any social media
- Close out your email window so new mail notifications don’t pull you away from the task at hand
11. Know when to call it a day
Don’t make it a habit of working until midnight every night. As a night owl by nature, I find myself wanting to do this all the time. Unless you are truly on a roll and producing quality work into the wee hours of the night, call it quits and start again after you’ve had a chance to catch some shut-eye.
Do you have any habits that you find helpful to stay productive while working from home? Please share with us in the comments below, it’s always great to be able to trade tips for success!