As planners, more often than not, our primary physical work space is in our home. We love this about the job–working from home can be so empowering, but it takes some serious discipline and focus to stay on track and deliver the best results. Today, then, we’ve rounded up 6 tips to help you stay productive when working from home. (You can read them in your pajamas, though. We won’t tell anyone):
Stick to a schedule
Number 1 on our list is often the hardest rule to follow when working from home. After all, isn’t that part of the reason you work from home–so you can be autonomous? But, truth be told, setting a fairly strict work schedule (rather than just working at random times throughout the day as things come up) is one of the most empowering tips we can give you.
If you choose to work everyday from 9-4, and force yourself to stick to this schedule, you won’t find yourself washing dishes at 10 a.m. or grabbing groceries at 2 p.m. Breaking up the work day with personal errands can be very distracting and take away from that Beyoncé-like focus that we know is inside you. Also worth considering? Starting early. Many people are most productive early in the morning. Vow to start your day at 7 a.m. everyday and wrap things up around 3 to avoid that common late-afternoon brain fog.
Have a proper workspace
Now that you’ve separated professional from personal using a schedule, it’s time to physically separate the two as well. Your brain associates activities with physical spaces: think about that classic “no TV in the bedroom” rule. People opt to not have TVs in their bedroom so that their brain learns to associate the bedroom with a place of distraction-free rest, rather than as a place to get riled up on late-night politics (or, if we’re being honest, Real Housewives drama). Do the same for your work brain: sitting on the couch with a laptop is the most distracting thing you can do as someone who works from home. Find a space–however small or makeshift it may be–and use it only for work. Your brain will quickly learn that, when you enter that space, it’s time to get down to some serious biz-nass. You go, girl.
Take a breather
Don’t forget to get out and see the sun every once in awhile, even if this just means stepping out on your porch for a few minutes or taking the dog for a lap around the neighborhood. As part of your set schedule, include a few 15-minute breaks throughout your day and stick to them–it’s a great way to boost productivity and creative thinking. Also, remember to treat yourself to some human interaction every now and then. Working from home can be a bit isolating, so take a few minutes to chat on the phone with a friend or meet an industry person for coffee and creative brainstorming.
You knew this one was coming. When you’ve got a project on deadline or a serious task you need to focus on, unplug from email and the rabbit hole that is social media searching. Turn your phone on silent and lay it face down so you’re not distracted by messages that pop up on your screen. And don’t forget to close any browser tabs that don’t directly relate to the task you’re working on.
Plug in, too
Ok, ok, we know we just said to unplug, but there are productive ways to plug in that we absolutely love. Our favorite? Music. Create a playlist of all of your favorite productivity-boosting jams to set the mood for your workday. We also love applications like Slack that allow you to chat with coworkers, creative partners and clients.
Now that you’re ready to tackle the workday with your awesome schedule and killer playlist, it’s time to make sure others take note, too. One of the hardest parts of working from home is communicating to those around you that you’re actually working. If your workspace has a door, close it. If not, craft up a cute sign that you can place on or near your desk to let others know now is not the time to chat. One of our team members grabbed a paper door-hanging sign from a hotel that reads “Fuhgettaboudit.” When this is on her office door, family and friends know not to knock.
That’s what we’ve rounded up for you today. From setting a schedule to setting expectations, we hope we’ve empowered you to step up your working from home game. Are there any tips or tricks you follow to help you stay on track? We’d love to hear from you!