How To Be Productive Working From Home
I didn’t choose the remote life, the remote life chose me.
I blinked, and I was somehow into my tenth month of working as a full time freelancer. Between the deadline stresses, financial hiccups, and moments of self-doubt, I’ve learned a lot.
Essentially: how to function day-to-day juggling clients, invoicing, and how to remain sane when you’re starved of human contact. While I’m not quite “there” yet in terms of where I want to be, there’s a lot of information I wish I knew from the get-go to make the transition a little bit smoother.
Yes working from cafés, hotel lobbies - or anywhere that will have me - is a great way to break up the monotony, but sometimes working from home is the most practical and easy solution.
I’d be telling a bare-face lie if I said I always adhered to the following, but when I do, I feel like I’m worthy of my own employee of the month badge (disclosure: I’m the only one who works for my ‘company’ so this shouldn’t be that difficult.)
* Change Out Of Your Clothes
Look, I often work from my fuzzy pink dressing gown - but this isn’t ok. If I decide to work from the kitchen table, I’ve had to make a rule that I shower and put something comfortable on. This is your office, respect the dress code!
* Limit The Snacks
Mind boredom = snack time, regardless of hunger. To avoid eating everything in plain sight just to avoid finishing a feature, it’s best to stock the fridge with only what you really need for your main meals. Let’s just say I’ve gone through many a share bag of popcorn mindlessly this year while dossing from work.
* Hide Your Phone
My number one tip - your phone is like that chatty co-worker who won’t leave you be. Put it in the other room for a few hours, disable your laptop notifications, and watch your productivity levels soar.
* Task Buckets
I heard this on a podcast recently, and it’s been revolutionary. In a nut shell, you divide your ongoing tasks into specific time periods. Whilst before my daily to-do list seemed overwhelming, now I try and compartmentalize (try being the operative word) everything into set time frames: i.e. only reading emails twice a day, allocating one evening a week for pitching/outreach, writing posts for my own site on one day, while only concentrating on paid work on others.
* Limit Your Tabs
The amount of tabs open at any given time on my browser would give most people nightmares. I realized the extent of my open tabs was representative of how many ongoing tasks I had - and like the Task Bucketing concept, I have began to organize them. I now have a Google Doc dedicated to links of long form articles I want to read at a later date, one for online shopping links for later perusal, and one for future story ideas divided into each of the outlets I write for weekly.
* Don’t Work From Your Bed
It’s tempting, I know, but it’s not conducive (or healthy) nor does it put you in ‘work mode’. Ditto sitting on the floor, sometimes I do this and it only ever ends in back pain and a numb bum. Do yourself a favor and invest in a small rug or booster - anything that makes sitting for long periods of time in a chair more manageable.
* Set Your Hours
Probably the biggest benefit of working for yourself is being in control of your own schedule. Tailor your working hours to ones that suit you, and don’t fall into the trap of working around the clock (consider implementing the Task Buckets to help you curtail your workload). For me, working into the night impinges on my sleep as my brain is far too overactive even hours after I’ve shut the laptop. Reading something like a book or magazine to give my eyes a break from the screen (and a melatonin or…six) helps me wind down.
…granted that I’m likely dreaming of task buckets and Google Docs. Yet, until I can hire a second person to help manage my brain activity, I’ll rest knowing I’m doing the best I can as my own boss.
Photos by the amazing Edelle Carmel Kenny