Strategies for Being More Productive When You Work From Home
Working from home is pretty awesome, isn’t it?! The commute is fantastic. The dog snuggles are a bonus. And the snacks are plentiful. But, it sure can be hard to FOCUS when you work from home. Right?
I’ve been a work from home dog-mom/business owner for over seven years now and working from home with the added challenge of dealing with chronic illness for over four. While it’s not always easy to be productive, I have developed some strategies that I hope you’ll find helpful!
Learning to Work Smarter, Not Harder
Prioritize ruthlessly: Start each workday with a plan by prioritizing the items on your to-do list in order of most to least time-sensitive/critical. I highly recommend using Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map planner. It’s perfect for prioritizing your top three tasks each day and helps you focus on working/living intentionally as well.
My struggles with fatigue often mean that I won’t get more than a few things done each day. How do I stay successful? I focus on accomplishing the tasks that are critical first each day, which are typically the ones that involve the least amount of energy and receive the highest ‘payout’. Prioritizing ruthlessly by what is most important will help you to get more done each day.
Create an environment that works for you: The home office setup that works well for me may not be the one that works the best for you! I’ve read many blogs that recommend creating a traditional office for your home in order to be productive. Yes, that can be very effective for a lot of people. However, sitting in a desk chair all day long isn’t conducive to my productivity, because it increases my chronic back pain.
My home office set up is less structured. I often work at my desk, then my recliner, then while stretching on my yoga mat (while I am on a call or listening to a podcast). I’ll even work on blog posts while walking (I use the Otter app to record my thoughts!). My home office includes a variety of pillows for comfort, my foam roller, yoga ball, and yoga mat, and of course my thercane and heating pad too! Yes, it might look more like a physical therapy center than an office, but I make it work. One day, I’d love to be able to have a walking desk too.
Create Balance: For anyone who works from home, balancing the home and business sides of their lives can feel downright impossible, especially if the reason you began working from home was so you could spend more time with family. However, many home businesses actually fail because people don’t manage to balance business and home life. How can you juggle your family’s needs, your business needs and occasionally find some time for your needs without being a superhero?
You need to learn to create balance. If your family/partner/spouse isn’t supportive of your work from home job and requirements then you’re going to find it to be far more difficult. It’s not easy, but I promise it IS possible.
Learn to create balance by saying ‘no’ to things that don’t further your goals or bring you joy! Consistently refer to your planner and review which task is necessary or not necessary towards intentionally achieving your goals and which activities are helping you maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Give Yourself Grace!
Prioritize Self-Care: Yes, I’m talking about self-care and productivity in the same sentence. Why? Because I 100% believe that you will be more productive if you schedule time for yourself within your workday/week. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s critical, especially if you’re dealing with a chronic illness.
There are countless studies that show we are more productive and more creative when we eat well, sleep well, and take frequent small breaks. We talk about this frequently and share our self-care strategies in the Full of Grit and Grace Facebook group too.
Don’t forget that eating well is a form of self-care too! Whether you meal prep in advance or you prefer to buy premade meals to have on hand as I do, make sure your kitchen is stocked. And I mean stocked with healthy foods you can grab in the middle of your workday so you don’t end up mindlessly eating M&M’s when you’re starving at 2 pm! Personally, my two favorite meal delivery services are Freshly and Daily Harvest (use code JennaGreen to save $25 on your first Daily Harvest Box!).
Limit Distractions: Why yes, I can see you rolling your eyes here! Of course, you know you’ll be more productive with fewer distractions, but they seem to pop up when we are most vulnerable don’t they?! If you’re not getting anything done and can feel yourself falling into the trap of mindlessly scrolling Facebook for ‘work’, then go ahead and give yourself a short break! I also swear by my noise-canceling headphones when trying to work while my husband is home.
Work Mindfully. Yes, I run a social media marketing business, but I still consciously limit my time on Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you can’t seem to stay focused then try using a tool to limit your screen time or social media time. Instagram even allows you to limit time on the app natively now (Go to your profile, then your activity, and set a daily reminder with a limit if you’d like). I’ve learned most of my mindfulness strategies from my friend Minessa Konecky of Direct to Success. In her ‘Design Your Day with Purpose” course she teaches how to re-wire your brain by practicing mindfulness:
When you begin practicing mindfulness, you’ll find that your productivity skyrockets and your quality of work improves. You get more satisfaction out of work and leisure activities which helps to alleviate a lot of the mom/business owner guilt that many women struggle with.
I would start by picking one activity each week that you’ll complete mindfully. You may want to consider doing the same one each day for a few weeks, and then expanding to include other activities in your mindfulness practice.Minessa Konecky, Design Your Day With Purpose
Planning ahead so that your social media content is scheduled in advance is critical in helping me to limit distractions and work smarter. I can effectively create and schedule multiple Instagram posts and Pinterest pins and schedule them each week in batches using Tailwind. This has been a game-changing tool that helps me get a lot more done, and work more efficiently too! Learn more about why I love Tailwind here.
Several studies show that the human brain isn’t very good at multitasking and it’s even better at tricking itself into thinking it can. So quit trying to watch tv, blog, and talk to your BFF at the same time!
So, although you may not have superpowers, you can still have a home life, business life, and some time for yourself. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, ask your support system for some help and try out a few of these ideas for being more productive.
What are your favorite productivity hacks?