10 Ways to be Productive When You Work from Home
Working from home and running your own company sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? You can sleep in, do whatever you want, and don’t have to answer to anyone.
I worked from home from 2007 until we got an office last September. Nine. Years. I now spend anywhere from 2-3 days a week working out of the office–depending on how much I have to do and where I’ll be most productive–and the rest at my kitchen table. I’ve gotten so many questions about how I get work done from home, but it’s actually where I do my best work.
There are tons of perks that come with working from home and it can be distracting or really efficient. Here’s how I stay productive when working from home.
1. Find a schedule/routine
I used to work until midnight-2am, crash at 3, wake up at 9, and not start my day until 10. I was always tired, had constant headaches, and my anxiety was through the roof. It was not good.
Things changed a lot the past two years. I stopped staying at the computer all night and started waking up between 7:15-7:30. I make some coffee, and go right to the computer. The days I’m in the office, I still like to get a little work done before heading in.
We have set team office and meeting days, and having that routine makes it easier to know what to expect each week. Sure, there are days I’ll leave the office early to work on my own (that’s when I do my best work) and some days need to be spent working from home. On the days I stay home, I am typically at the computer all day but try to get a midday workout or schedule a lunch once a week to break things up. I know how I work best and that little break gives me a chance to recharge and feel a lot less stressed. Lunch is usually had at my desk but I’m trying to be better about stepping away for a little.
When I do that, it’s back to work until around 5-6 PM, unless I have additional work for EG, or a blog post to write. I do check my email nonstop but that’s just how I am. There are days and nights when everything’s thrown off, but my morning routine and rough idea of what I’m doing when really helps.
2. Create a (designated) work space
I’ve always had a desk and for the most part, enjoy using having a set workspace but living in a small one bedroom, I now work at our kitchen table. A comfortable chair, organized desk, good lighting, and a nicely put together office space make working from home a lot more enjoyable, so I’d recommend that. I also enjoy moody music that I won’t want to sing along to because then I can’t read/write/focus.
3. Stay organized
I use reminders to keep track of side projects or things I need to do for The Everygirl. I have enough going on that if I want to review something with the team, I have to set a reminder or I’ll probably forget.
Our team uses ASANA to stay organized. Tasks are assigned to individual (or multiple) members of the team so you can see what’s yours, what needs to be done, and check in with everyone along the way. It’s wonderful.
4. Get dressed
All of our past interns will tell you I only wore workout clothes when I worked from home. Since we started going into the office almost a year ago, I started getting dressed and now actually enjoy doing so. But if I’m working from home and know I’m working out after work, no real pants for me that day.
5. Co-work/leave the house
We joined Soho House last year since it was half the cost of all the local co-working spaces and 10x less than any office space we looked at. It’s been great for networking and I always have a place to work when I want to get out of the house. Cafes and co-working dates at home are great, too. I try to make it a point to co-work at least 1-2 days a week.
6. Set guidelines
You don’t need to respond to every email within 20 minutes and probably shouldn’t spend all day on g-chat talking to your friends, either. Figure out what needs to get done, get ahead when you can, and know what’s important to you (and your boss, if applicable). Having guidelines for what you’ll do when will help you stay productive and feel less crazed. And don’t forget to take occasional breaks, too. They’re good for your eyes, back, and sanity.
7. Step away from your email
I need to be better about this, but when I have a project or shoot I’m working on, I’ll close out my inbox and make sure people can’t message me, either. There have been way too many times when 4:00 has rolled around and all I’ve done is answer email.
8. Clean up
Make sure your home and workspace aren’t a mess. This means tidying up at night before bed so you wake up to a clean home/office.
9. Silence your phone
This is a personal preference that works for me, but I keep my phone on silent during the day. If you need to keep that ringer on for work calls, send the personal calls to voicemail.
10. Know when to call it quits
There are days where you’ll be in the office later than usual, but sometimes, you just need to walk away and be a regular human, even when there’s still work to do. Make dinner, read a book, or call back your friend whose call you missed because your phone was on silent.
Working from home is definitely not for everyone, but if it’s something you’re considering or that’s new to you, I hope these tips help!