I write fiction and do some freelance Audio Engineering when I'm not slaving away at my day job. This is the typical life of most creatives or anyone working to become completely self employed. However, it's not as easy working from home as some might think. The problem that many will encounter is that you may not be as productive at home as you'd like.
You have no commute. You don't have distracting co-workers. You don't even have to put on clothes. Why aren't I getting as much done?
Here are a few tips that I've found that can help boost your productivity when doing work at home.
1. The Internet is Distracting!
Ah, yes. The internet is the biggest blessing and time wasting development of the 20th century. If you're like me, I hate seeing that little number beside twitter that tells me how many tweets have been added to my stream since I last clicked 'refresh.' It actually really pushes my OCD buttons. I have to clear it. I just have to.
Solution? Do not keep browser tabs open that will distract you from working. If you can get away with shutting your browser down all together, do it.
There are several internet blackout apps out there that you can download to shut down your internet for a predetermined period of time, but I don't think you need that (unless you really have a problem with your internet habits). If anything, you can just unplug your router or wifi. It serves the same purpose without having to download another app to clutter your computer.
Don't let the internet or your phone/tablet/TV distract you. Turn them off!
2. Separate Home Life From Work Life
One thing that really helps (if you have the space) is to designate a room to work in exclusively. You only go in that room when you're working and you don't work when you're not in that room. Don't have that kind of space? Make it a desk or chair or even a sign that you set on your desk that says "the doctor is in." Do something to mentally trick yourself into getting into the "work mode" mindset.
This is especially valuable if you work when other people are in the house with you. Let your family or roommates know that when your headphones are on and you're pecking away on your laptop at your work desk that you're not free to talk or hang out, but you're actually at work. Setting up boundaries can really go a long way to allowing you to get more work done.
3. Take Breaks/Walk Around
Yes, actually take breaks. This might take some time to experiment with as some people need more frequent breaks than other people. One of the best things about working from home is that you can actually format a work-rest cycle that's most productive for you.
There are quite a few Apps on the market to help you schedule your breaks. Here's 3 Computer Apps that will remind you to take a break from working. But, it's just as effective to set a timer or alarm on your phone.
Get up and walk away from whatever you're doing. Walk the dog. Go to the gym. Watch an episode of your new favorite Anime. Let your mind do something else before returning to work.
4. Set Reachable Goals
Before you start your day, you should know what you intend to accomplish. Maybe take time the night before to make a schedule or write a list of important must-do tasks. Maybe do it a week in advance.
More importantly, make sure these goals are definable and reachable. Nothing extends a due date like a moving target. If you don't know exactly what your goal is, you probably won't reach it. Don't set the bar too high. If you design logos for a living, set a goal that is reachable for that day or week. Making your goal: "Earn my first million" isn't realistic.
5. Reward Productivity
This goes hand in hand with taking breaks and setting reachable goals. When you get something done, it's okay to reward yourself with something you enjoy. Finished your work an hour ahead of schedule? Instead of cramming more, give yourself an extra hour of TV time. Let those things that were distracting you finally win!
Do you have any productivity hacks for working from home?
I'm always looking for new things to try, so I'd love to hear them.
Let me know in the comments!