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As a digital nomad who travels the world mainly via house sitting, I spend a lot of time working from a home…. when I’m not working from a coffee shop anyway. And when you work from home there are a lot of distractions- like laundry, playing with pets, watching TV and a hundred other things.
So whether you are new to working from home or you’ve been doing it for a while, these are my best strategies to increase your energy and successfully work from home.
Ready to work outside the home, get my increase productivity when working from coffee shops guide.
Set Regular Working Hours
Unless you work for a company and already know when you’re expected to work, it can be tempting to throw any type of schedule out the window. But setting yourself some boundaries of work vs play time will actually help you stay more productive.
And if you’re a freelancer (like me!) it will help your clients to know when you’re available and not contact your 24/7. I generally try to be online and available Mon – Fri between 9am – 4pm, in whichever time zone I’m in. This can vary depending on if I’m traveling that day or have less work to complete, but generally this is when clients can expect me to be online.
Now, if you truly have the flexibility to set your own schedule, then I recommend working at your best hours. So whether that’s early in the morning or late at night, work for the best time for you, just try to stick with a regular schedule.
Invest in a Good Work Space
This is important for setting boundaries. When people first start working from home they think they’ll stay comfy all day and work from their couch. But you’re actually setting yourself up to be less productive.
In the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being more Productive, they say, “Unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to.”
If you really want to maintain a work life balance it’s best to keep work in dedicated work spaces like from an office or desk and allow your couch or bed to remain the places in which you relax.
Have a Priority List
When working from home, there are a lot of things to distract you – laundry, pets, kids, dishes, the list goes on. So knowing your priority list and what you must get done for the day will help you stay focused and productive.
I use Trello to keep track of my daily and weekly to do lists. And for time management purposes, it’s recommended to to combine your life and work tasks into one list. This way you can better prioritize your day by seeing all that needs to be done.
For more of my favorite business tools to keep me organized, check out this post.
Contrary to common belief, you shouldn’t stay in your pajamas all day. It doesn’t mean you can’t be more relaxed or comfortable than when you’re at the office, but you should still make an effort to get dressed in the morning.
For one, it helps signal to your brain that there is a shift happening in the day. “Getting dressed helps you feel more productive because it signals to you that you’re in work mode,” said personal stylist Jude Stevens. And she says it’s equally important to change out of work clothes at the end of the day.
For me, it’s usually the simple act of putting on shoes that tells my brain we’re ready to tackle the day. Otherwise, my clothes are casual and I rarely wear makeup when I’m home all day. I also like to workout after work which is my switch at the end of the day out of work mode and into the evening.
Create a Reward System
I’ve found this really works on days I’m having trouble concentrating or if there is something at home I would rather be doing than work. I’ll set up a personal reward system for when I can take a break from work and do that activity.
An example would be that I wasn’t able to catch the season finale of my favorite show the night before, but I’m dying to watch it! Now, typically I don’t turn the TV on at all during the day. TV is part of my relaxing time and not productive for work. But using my energy to actively avoid watching my one show all day is also not super helpful.
So I’ll tell myself that if I focus on work until lunch time then I can take a break and watch the latest episode. Once the desire is gone then I return to work after lunch. One caveat here is if you know you won’t be able to turn the TV off, then it’s probably best you wait until later in the day.
I also know people that give themselves gold star stickers or if they complete a project early they finish the day early. Find whatever it is that will motivate you a little extra when it’s hard to focus.
Take Short Breaks Throughout the Day
Something else you should be doing is taking short breaks throughout the day. Using the Pomodoro technique is one way to keep your breaks on track. You should aim to take a 5-10 minute break every hour.
It’s really important to take regular breaks throughout the day to refresh your mind. Walk to the kitchen or the mailbox or do 10 pushups, just make sure you step away from your computer. Even if you don’t feel like it earlier in the day, taking short breaks will help you keep up your productivity later in the day when you’re usually more tired.
If this isn’t already part of your routine, now is the time to start! Take the time that you’re no longer using to commute and get your exercise in. You can join a nearby gym, download an app on your phone or even watch YouTube videos with at home workouts. I wrote a whole post on how to stay fit with different ideas!
When you are able to regularly workout, it helps your energy levels. According to one study, exercise during the workday, improves well-being and improvement in time management. It also helps reduce stress, combat fatigue and improve mental capacity. Even if you are only able to get 10-15 minutes in a day, do it! You really can’t afford to not exercise.
Work from Coffee Shops or Coworking Spaces
This is one of my favorite things to do when I need a change of location (pre-Covid days). Depending what city I’m in, I may decide to visit a coffee shop or coworking space. It’s good to know how you work best to know when & what type of environment to move to. If conversations or coffee shop music is distracting, try a local coworking space. Many have daily rates or drop in pricing.
Check out my post on how to be productive working from coffee shops for more tips!
Practice Limiting Distractions
Limiting distractions can be really challenging depending on your home life. Which is why you have to practice limiting them. Some ideas include:
- setting a timer for checking social media
- not answering the door for every delivery
- asking friends & family to call before coming over
- working in a space without a tv present
- silencing your phone during your pomodoro sessions
- not keeping your email open and only checking it at set times
- turning off sound notifications on your phone and computer
What other distractions do you face? Kids, partner, pet, house chores? Find different ways to limit those distractions and over time it will get easier. Communicate with others your intentions to get work completed and practice enforcing those boundaries.
Distractions will happen and that’s okay. Reducing and eliminating them takes practice so don’t be too hard on yourself (or others) while finding a good system!
So there you have it. Those are my best tips for how to stay productive when you work from home. Let me know below in the comment section, what are your favorite tips to keep your productive when working from home?
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