When I quit teaching 2 years ago, I thought that the transition from employee to entrepreneur would be a breeze (lol). My days would still be structured, I’d be the queen of productivity and feel like a boss woman tackling my To-Do list, and I’d probably be super fit because I’d have time to workout and make myself salads.
NEWSFLASH: Just because you are closer to healthy food in your fridge does not mean you’ll eat it.
The reality is that working from home is full of joy and struggles. After 1.5 years of trial & error, here are my top 9 work from home tips I think you’ll find helpful!
#1. Get dressed
You’re hearing it everywhere these days: “Get dressed in the morning even if you work from home.” To be honest, some days I’m lucky if I even run a brush through my hair. But I ain’t lyin’ when I say the days that I wake up 10 minutes earlier to throw on a cute top (still yoga pants though, obvi… I haven’t gone full jeans mode yet) and put on some mascara are by far my better & more productive days. Give it a try! There’s a mental switch that happens. You’ll likely take yourself and your work more seriously and be less apt to sit on the couch with Netflix during your lunch break.
Don’t believe me? Today I decided to stay in my pajamas. It’s 10:06am and I’m just now getting to work. *face palm*
#2. Schedule in when you’ll transition from work life to domestic life
This was a big one for me during my first year of working from home. I would have just finished a big project, walked out of my office into the kitchen for a snack, and then been distracted by the messy kitchen & dishes in the sink. 30 minutes of cleaning and 2 loads of laundry later, I’m completely out of the work zone! This was a daily occurrence as I wrestled with my duties as a business owner and as a wife. I wanted to do both well, but actually both suffered because I didn’t have any boundaries in place.
Here’s a tip: Write down when you’ll transition from work life to home life. If you need to walk into the kitchen for a snack during the work day, IGNORE THE DISHES. Resist the urge to tidy up or meal prep or do any kind of housework during the day. Knowing that you have a designated time of the day for those tasks makes it easier to ignore those duties for the time being.
#3. Write down your Big 3 every night (or morning)
No, I’m not talking about Kate, Kevin & Randall. This is just a way I make sure I get the most important stuff done. We all have a To-Do list a mile long, but there are certain tasks that should take priority.
Every evening before I “punch out”, I do two things: I tidy up my desk for morning, and I write down my Big 3– these are the 3 tasks that, if nothing else gets done, must get finished tomorrow. They are the things that most move the needle forward in my business (example: finishing that client project & off boarding them is a priority; answering emails right this second is not). What are those for you? Make sure you specify those most important tasks so that it’s not 1pm by the time you realize you spent all morning in your inbox and on Pinterest (unless you get paid for emailing and Pinteresting!) Which brings me to my next point…
#4. Don’t open your email until you’ve accomplished 1 of your Big 3
Anybody else verrryyyy easily distracted? I’ll log into my client management system one second and be taking Buzzfeed’s new “Which Tiger King Character Are You?” quiz the next. There’s not much self control when it comes to avoiding bunny trails, so I have to make sure my good work happens before I even open myself up to the possibility of being distracted.
It can be SO easy to just react to life all day long. Answering emails, responding to texts and slacks, jumping on calls when other people want us. Before we know it, our whole morning has gone to other people, and our most productive hours are gone. I heard this quote somewhere and it stuck with me, “Be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.” Before you give your time to other people, get something done for your own business! I make sure this happens by completing one of my Big 3 tasks before I respond to other peoples’ requests.
#5. Take breaks to move your body
You might think you can go 7 straight hours without leaving your desk, but your body will thank you later if you take short breaks to move throughout the day! Stretch, walk around the room, do a HIIT workout, do 20 jumping jacks
My posture starting getting really bad when I first started painting and working on my computer full-time, so my chiropractor husband prescribed me 5 sets of these moves sprinkled throughout my day:
- Stand up against a wall with your chick tucked and head & shoulders against the wall. Hold your arms up in a “goal post” shape at shoulder height, and then slide them against the wall as you extend your arms up straight overhead, and then back down. Do this 10 times.
- Stand with your arms by your side. Take a deep belly breath in as you externally rotate your arms (so your palms face forward) and open your chest. Stretch your neck as you look up. Exhale and release everything. Do this 10 times.
- Foam roll, if you can. Roll out your back, and lay on it lengthwise and open up your chest by letting your arms hang outstretched. Stay here for 30 seconds.
#6. Turn your phone on airplane mode
This goes back to point #4 about not just *reacting* to life all day long. Have you heard of the concept of “deep work”? It’s the idea that if you’re constantly jumping from task to task, you’ll always stay shallow in your productivity and never get into the headspace where the good, focused WORK takes place. My phone is on airplane mode currently because looking down every 2 minutes to see that I have a new Instagram notification isn’t helping me write this blog post about work from home productivity tips!
#7. Keep a notepad nearby
Anybody else feel like you have 67388399492 tabs simultaneously open in your brain sometimes? One calligraphy piece can take 4 times longer when I’m constantly stopping my work to do some other small task I don’t want to forget about. So, I always always always keep my planner (or a pad of paper, or a sticky note) open next to me. Try it! If you think of a bomb marketing idea, write it down! Remembered you need to send Granny a birthday card by Friday? Write it down! If you come across an interesting article or funny video while you’re working, write them down and come back to them on your lunch break! This will help you take a deep breath and be assured you’re on top of things, while actually being productive!
#8. Celebrate your wins
My best productivity tip? Celebrate your wins! You will *never* accomplish everything on your task list. But it’s scientifically proven that when you praise yourself for good work, it encourages more good work! However, if you go through life with the “I’ll do better tomorrow” mentality, you’ll likely feel discouraged and not be as productive in the long run. So give yourself some grace, recognize what you did accomplish and celebrate that with a mental note.
You may feel like your day consisted of being distracted by your kids. Pat yourself on the back for taking care of your children and putting them first. Maybe you only got 1 of your Big 3 done. Recognize that 1 is better than 0, and the world won’t stop just because you didn’t finish 2 and 3!
#9. Give yourself some grace
Friend, working from home is hard! There’s no rulebook, deadlines, or schedule to follow. You might feel like you’re floundering some days, and killing it on others. THAT IS OKAY! You’re doing great.
Remember, make it work for YOU! I referred to having productive mornings a lot, but maybe you’re a dud in the morning and a creative genius in the evening! That’s great! Do what’s best for you and make it your own. But I hope these tips help give you a little guidance in figuring out how to stay productive as you work from home. You’ve got this!
Did I miss anything? Have a work from home tip of your own? Comment below! I’m always open to new ideas 🙂
For more Work From Home hacks, check out my post 7 Mistakes I Made as a New Entrepreneur.
Gorgeous photos by Rochelle Maples Photography