Being a writer, you often spend a lot of time working from home. Obviously, this comes with perks, I don’t have to follow fixed working hours, I set my own wages and I have the freedom to work in my underwear (as I currently am).
However, if you’ve spent any amount of time working at home, you’ll soon realize that these perks come with some downsides. Distractions are everywhere and it’s easy to be lazy. Here is how to combat the downsides and continue efficiently working in your underwear.
I work from home the same way I would if I worked at an office. Routine is important. I wake up at the same time every day during the week. I don’t give in to the temptation of sleeping in. I get dressed, I do not work in my pajamas. I have a dedicated home office. I set aside a specific amount of time for lunch and for letting my three dogs out to go potty. If I have to go to the doctor, dentist or some other personal appointment, I try to make the appointment early in the morning so it doesn’t interrupt my day.
I have a calendar on my phone to remind me of those things that need to be accomplished on a particular day. I check in with clients regularly either via phone or email. I don’t allow my day to be interrupted by personal matters unless it’s an emergency. I stay off social media, except as it relates to my job. Just like at an office job, I close the door at night and call it quits.
Contributors: Susan R. Miller from Garton-Miller Media
Start the day with heart-pumping, calorie-burning exercise. Engaging in physical activity from a stretching session to spin class will boost your energy level, alertness, and have a positive impact on productivity and creativity throughout the day. Combat feeling bleary-eyed and settling into poor posture at your desk by taking periodic stand-up breaks to increase circulation and re-set before resuming work.
Contributors: Melissa St. Clair from Paper Chaser
Give your body some energy.
If working from home, you probably don't have coworkers that you can go to lunch at midday. However, this is important in order to replenish nutritional needs as well as mental recuperation. Don't be afraid to ask friends and/or family that may be nearby to join you for lunch!
Contributors: Shane Willard from CoffeeBeanCorral
became maniacally calendar-focused -- I stack phone calls back to back with external partners so that I never feel alone and always feel like I'm moving the ball forward. We use Slack and collaborative Google Docs to communicate internally -- and I am in constant contact with my team through that platform.
Finally, we rolled out OKRs (objectives and key results) so that our team is focused on the results they need to drive -- that way, we remain results-oriented rather than sticking to the traditional 9-to-5 -- and our team has the flexibility to manage their schedules, lives, and kids as needed while remaining focused and company-first. And -- we also run a coffee company, so it does help to drink our product to stay alert, focused, and start the day right!
Contributors: Melissa Kalimov from RISE Brewing Co.
In order to make the most of my day, while working at home, I structure the way that my day flows. I have a lot of freedom as a business owner who works from home but has to give myself goals and limits in order to meet deadlines and accomplishments. I structure my days in two chunks, the morning and afternoon. I give myself a designated lunch break, where I often decompress with a TV show or catch up on some Youtube videos, and begin each day marking out the goals I want to accomplish in the two chunks of time. I like to be done with work by 5 or 6 pm, so that I can cook dinner and have a completed day before my husband gets home.
Contributors: Ashlyn Biedebach from By The Brook Birth Doula
There are many different ways to accomplish goals. I just launched a Kickstarter campaign on August 21st, we got funded in 18 hours, with basically hardly any email list (which is what we really need to be successful) but I did have friends and family list. The following is what I do daily to be able to launch Kickstarter mostly by myself and my part-time partner. We do have some part-time VA and we also have to work with them to get projects completed. Here's what I did:
- I have 1 notebook to keep all my write it down in one place
- I don't do work in bed.
- I change into work clothes or workout clothes and never in PJ's
- I eat breakfast before I start
- I write down everything that comes to head or I text myself and then review them daily.
- I keep a lot of information on Google Drive and Dropbox
- I use Trello to keep projects or ideas down so I don't forget and I review those every other day
- When I email a vendor or someone, its one topic per email... its a bit crazier because you get more emails.. but its easier to find if I have to search for it.
- I do a lot of research online and talk to people so I'm prepared and not waiting to last minute to figure things out.
- I don't watch TV during the day
- I eat at my desk and have a separate office (spare room) that I work in. (I eat at my desk so that I'm not tempted by the TV near the dining room)
- I write down and check off my MUST do list first for the day.
- If I don't complete something, then I recopy it over the next day's list so this forces me to complete it because I don't want to keep writing it down.
- I set an alarm for everything, especially appointments
- When I take breaks, I usually do a few floor exercise like stretching or planks
- When there are gaps of free time, I listen to the podcast on the topic that I am focused on so an example is I listen to the podcast on Kickstarter so that I keep that topic top of mind.
- I have a tendency to lose my glasses... so I have multiple ones everywhere so that I don't waste time searching.
- I block out all things that need to be done at home usually until the evening or weekends.
- If I have errands to do... I do them in the afternoon after I get my Must-do items done.
Contributors: Shirley Tan from Posture Keeper
If you're self-employed and have a hard time getting out of bed, try what I call the picture of poverty. Find a picture that shows whatever poverty means to you. For me it's homelessness. Put that picture in a little frame on your nightstand. Make sure it's the kind that stands up. Over a short period of time, you'll start to associate bed with the stark possibility of poverty. As a side benefit, it will also help you develop gratitude for what you have.
Contributors: Chuck Vosburgh from NextHome Gulf to Bay
Your mind has strong psychological ties to the activities you perform in each room. Your bedroom is for sleeping, your den for television, your kitchen for eating. Ever walk into the kitchen and get hungry? That's what I'm talking about. The same factors are at play when working from home. Trying to work in a bedroom, living room, or any room that is not *strictly* for work, you will face distractions and demotivation. I find that a clean, mostly empty room with only the essentials (IE: computer, printer, legal pad) puts you in the best mindset you can possibly be in when working from home.
Contributors: Pat Crawley from Crawley Consulting
Ditch the kitchen table and set yourself in a real home office space to gain focus and avoid distractions. Liven it up with music, flowers, artwork, and photographs to surround yourself with thought-provoking, inspirational triggers to help you thrive not wilt and be lazy.
Once a week, work from your favorite library. Its free WiFi and nobody expects you to purchase anything. Libraries are much more peaceful than coffee shops. Talk a walk when you're feeling lazy. Get some fresh air, don't think about work on the route away from your house. When you start walking back towards your house, start making a mental checklist of what you will achieve during the rest of the day. Working from home can be lonely. Have lunch with a friend, client, coworker, or your mom once a week.
Contributors: Maddy Sharkey from Brainchild Studios
Don’t just keep to-do or project lists. Have a method that actually helps you process information by parsing what’s actionable or not, select what to execute on, and then prioritize, schedule or otherwise route it. Without geeking out on it, I’ve found that GTD via an app called OmniFocus has been very helpful. I work almost completely from home spend my days mostly auditioning, but whenever my (CRM) queue there is clear for a given hour or three, if I’m ever unsure as to what the most important thing I should be working on is, I just check that app, which also sends me task reminders anyway. Normally, any given day I’m never getting done everything that I’d like to, but I’m also at least never forgetting about anything that needs to get done; nothing is ever completely falling through the cracks. I’m never at a loss for something to work on to stay productive.
Contributors: Scott Reyns from Scott Reyns Voice
While accountability is often taken for granted in traditional work environments, it can become more of a challenge when working from home, especially if that work is self-governed or freelance. Setting objectives and estimated outcomes to achieve vs your time invested can be a challenge in itself at first, but ensuring that desired results are outlined is important for measuring your productivity. As long as you’re achieving milestones, you’ll know that your working habits are effective.
If you’re not reaching productivity benchmarks, you may need to rethink your home-working environment. It’s easy to become distracted on personal devices when shortcuts to your favorite recreational websites and program are immediately available - consider creating a separate work account on your devices to keep yourself focused and on-task. In addition, developing a work and sleep schedule based around your most effective hours is important. If you’re a night owl, use your productive hours while you work, or if you’re a coffee drinker, use your energy buzz to tackle your toughest projects.
Most importantly, if you’re your own boss, it’s important to keep yourself motivated by remembering why it is you’re passionate about your work in the first place!
Contributors: Kyle Strong from Tradogram
Before my head hits the pillow each night I find it incredibly helpful to check my calendar and scan for meetings I have over the next few days. I also take a few minutes to think through which mission-critical items need to get tackled the next day. Knowing what the flow of my day will look like helps me hit the ground running the next morning and it also gives me a good sense of what my day will look like instead of bumping into unpleasant surprises in the morning when my alarm goes off.
Contributors: Krista Canfield McNish from FoodWaterShoes
Sitting is the new smoking! Say goodbye to traditional sitting while working as this sedentary behavior is a risk factor for early death. Now is the time to say hello to a healthy lifestyle by investing in a standing desk. It has been proven that standing burns 10 times more calories than sitting, and reduces back pain. Working in a standing position can activate your brain with improved blood circulation, and increase your focus to be more creative.
Contributors: Michael Angelo from AnthroDesk
There’s an app for everything these days, including beating procrastination. Some block designated websites for a set period of time, like Focus and Freedom. There’s an app that tells you how often you’re checking your phone and another that charges you $1 when you’re on Facebook for more than an hour. If you find yourself getting lost down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos or Reddit threads when you should be working, consider using a site-blocking app or other anti-procrastination tools until the work day comes to an end.
Contributors: Rebecca Safier from Remote Bliss
Take one day a week for working remote. I like to take my laptop to my favorite coffee shop on Fridays and work there for the day. It gives me a much needed human connection, and the change in the environment always gets my creativity flowing. It also allows me to take meetings more easily, and I can generally get the big meetings out of the way in one day! It ends the week on a great note and allows me the ability to walk down the street to my favorite bar for happy hour after a great work week.
Contributors: Aubrey Young from BABE Collective
While this may seem like an obvious tip, I find that using noise canceling headphones with no music playing helps significantly in easing outside noise distractions. This is especially useful when working on research-driven tasks or writing assignments. If you're working in a public space, the chances of you being bothered by others people also decline when you're seen wearing headphones.
The best tip I ever got was to get up at the same time every time. Take a shower, get dressed for the day. Act as if you were going into the office. By doing this, you're putting yourself into a productive mentality. A few other things that I do include giving myself an hour for working on myself. I use a program called The Miracle Morning and it stressed giving yourself that extra hour to grow in your physical fitness, mental, and educational goals. It's made a huge difference for me! I almost always go straight for my daily affirmations when my alarm clock goes off.
Contributors: Jolene Rheault from The Bid Lab
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