How I stay productive while working from home

How I Stay Productive

//Photo Taken By Christina Slaton//

July will mark over seven months of my new-found freelancing life! I know, it’s crazy.  There are still days I wake up and forget that I don’t have an office to report to. It’s been an incredible chapter of my career, but I’ve learned that working from home, whether remotely for a company or freelance like me, can be difficult. My friends and boyfriend always say how jealous they are of me and my freedom to work anytime anywhere, but sometimes the lack of structure gets to me.

In the beginning it took a lot of self-discipline. Instead of working diligently at home, I found myself distracted with day time talk shows or chores around the house. Before I knew it, it would be 5PM and my friends would be out of work and want to meet up for dinner. Then I would often end up working and writing late at night. I’d get to sleep at some ungodly hour and justify sleeping in the next morning.

The worst part was that the quality of my work was suffering. Which by my standards, was completely unacceptable.

Basically, I was failing big time at being productive and something needed to change.

So for the last few months I’ve made a few key changes to my routine that have made all the difference. My new routine that has helped me stay more productive while working from home than I ever did while working an office job.

Case and point: During the month of June I had a full-time social media consulting gig, completed three Work It Web projects, hosted a Twitter chat, and managed this blog. So how was I able to do all that without losing nights of sleep? By following my freelance productivity routine:

I get my ass out of bed 

The very ritual of getting up, getting dressed, and reporting to an office everyday breeds productivity. So when your boss isn’t looking over their cubical to see if you’ve arrived yet, it’s easy to keep hitting that snooze button. Instead I set my alarm for when I would have normally woke up to commute to work and get myself ready for the day. I will usually check emails, schedule social media, and have breakfast in my PJs (and by PJs I mean yoga pants I never took off from the night before), but right after I’ll change my outfit and make myself presentable because…

I find my own office(s)

When you have an office job, it’s natural to subconsciously associate your office with “work” and the home you go to with “rest”. It’s nice to work at home, but my comfy sectional and flat screen television are not necessarily work friendly.  Which is why I like to think that I have “many” offices. Whole Foods is my office, Starbucks is my office, and this lovely little cafe in Lincoln Square I discovered last month, is my office. When you have somewhere to be, even if you’re the only one that says you have to be there, you can more easily put yourself in work mode.

I set an end time 

The biggest problem with an open schedule is that you could easily work past “normal work hours”. There were weeks where I spent literally the entire day heads down in my computer. I’d look up and realize it was 9PM, The Bachelorette was almost over, and I hadn’t taken a break from working. Lately I’ve worked really hard at setting a strict end time at 6PM. I’ll even purposely plan gym classes, dinners, or events earlier to force myself from working past that time.

I commit certain time to certain things

Because I usually have multiple projects going on at the same time, it’s easy to get distracted and forget about what needs to get done. When you work from home, you typically don’t have someone consistently checking up on you, so it’s up to you to schedule your time accordingly. For instance, to avoid writing at all hours of the night or worse, forgetting to write at all,  I dedicate my Friday’s to heavy blog writing. This helps me keep my content fresh and frequent.

I schedule at least one event a week

Collaboration and the simple act of talking something through with another person can actually make you much more productive. Something I miss about working in an office is the daily interaction with my co-workers. To help with this I commit to one networking/collaborating meetup, event, or workshop a week. Sometimes it will be a large group or panel event, other weeks I will just meet one-on-one with a mentor or mentee.

I exercise

Did you know that working out actually motivates you to work harder at other things? Oh yes fun fact, a habit of regular exercise will help keep you mentally sharper, and thus, more productive. I’ve always worked out, but over the last few months I make a special point to prioritize exercise into my schedule (added bonus of working from home: WAY more flexibility with timing). Unsurprisingly I’ve noticed I’m way more productive on the days I start with a workout.

 

So in the spirit of productivity, I’ll leave you with that and get back to work! 

 

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