I feel like after a year of working from home, I have finally managed to discipline myself enough to be genuinely productive. It’s harder than you think – there are so many temptations when you’re at home every day. There is no one to watch what you’re doing, no one to tell you what to do and more importantly, no one to tell you off when you’re not doing anything. It’s all about self-discipline.
So whether you’re job is based at home or you need to revise/study – here are five of my top tips for being productive whilst working in the wonderful comfort of your own home.
Routine is the most important thing when working at home every day. It’s also the most difficult. Set yourself a strict time for when you need to wake up, have breakfast and be ready to start your day of work. Stick to that time! No excuses.
Set yourself a lunch time and an official ‘end of day’ time.
Have roughly the same structure to your days too. So work from 8am-12pm on a particular project, and then dedicate the afternoon to another project. Try not to jump between things. For example the other week, I had to discipline myself not to start writing a devotional at the same time as working on a freelance project. Start something and work on that. Finish it/come to a halt and then start something new. For me this really helps with the flow of my productivity.
2) NO PJ’s AND NO BED
This is one of those pesky temptations I was talking about. When I first started working at home I basically lived in my pyjamas (I now have a shamefully huge collection of PJ’s). I also worked from my bed. This is the biggest no-no. Your PJ’s are for bed-time and your bed is for sleeping/relaxing. You will never be fully productive when you’re stuck in bed all day.
Set aside an “office” somewhere in your house – preferably not in your own room. Let your room be your comfort zone, the place where you don’t have to think about your to-do list or your blog or whatever you need to be concentrating on.
I use the dining room as my work-place (much to my mum’s disapproval). I keep my laptop here with all of the books, pens and notepads that I need. I pack them away from the table at the end of the day, and then I pack them all out the next morning.
When I’m doing this my mind knows ‘okay I’m about to start working now’, or ‘I’ve finished for the day now’. It really, really makes a difference.
3) BE STRICT
It’s so important that you be your own boss. Be strict with yourself. If you have decided that you are working mon-fri every week, stick to that! Treat yourself as if you were in a genuine job in an office block, with a manager looming over your head every now and again.
Try not to look on your phone too often. Don’t sing along to the Frozen sound-track at the top of your lungs. No browsing on Topshop.com for a new outfit. Don’t paint your nails.
The thing I struggled with for ages (and still kind of do) is saying no to people when they want to meet up in the day mid-week. They know that I don’t have an official job with an official time-table, so it’s hard for people to understand that I still need to work at these set times!! Be strict with yourself and learn to stick to your schedule.
4) DON’T OVER-SNACK
This is something that you don’t really think about, but being at home makes it so much easier to snack when you want. The kitchen is right next-door and you know that there’s a chocolate orange just sat there waiting for you.
Eat in your lunch-time and your break-time. Don’t bring food to the desk. Once you make a habit out of eating whilst working, your body will start to need food whenever you sit down to work. It’s really hard to get out of that vicious cycle!
I like to treat myself to a good cup of tea every few hours – it helps with the occasional need for food.
5) HAVE A BREAK
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Set aside a time in the day (other than lunch), to just take a moment to breathe. For half an hour every afternoon (around 2:30pm), I like to read whatever novel I’m currently busy with or go for quick coffee with my mum. I try not to watch any TV, as it’s so easy to fall into a trap of delaying turning it off and walking away (dramatic, I know).
But most of all, remember to encourage yourself. There isn’t anyone working alongside you to give you a little boost every now and again, so sometimes you can feel as if you haven’t really achieved much. Do the best you can do and then give yourself a good pat on the back when you get there at the end of the day.
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