6 Productivity Hacks for Working From Home
When I started my photography business, I was all too happy to trade the fluorescently lit corporate office I was working in at the time selling life insurance for the comforts of working from home. I'm a proud self-starter and disciplined worker but I learned rather quickly that I if I was going to run a business out of my apartment, I'd need a few guidelines, so I didn't find myself still braless at 11 am, blaring Fith Harmony's Work From Home on repeat, and serving as my neighbors parcel collection service because UPS had figured out I was always home. So I'm sharing with you my 6 favorite hacks for how to stay productive if your office doubles as your home.
Hack # 1: Get Dressed. Let’s be honest, one of the perks of working from home is that you can do it in pajamas. Not surprisingly though, my body associates pajamas with sick days, daytime tv talk shows, and slurping soup straight from the bowl. The first few years I ran my business I’d categorize my everyday look as atheleisure- a subtle mix of yesterdays leggings and free gym t-shirts from gyms I no longer went to. When your daily routine consists of traveling from your desk to your bathroom to your kitchen and back again like a Roomba vacuum, I didn’t necessarily understand the importance of dressing for success. But an ensemble that doesn’t support an elastic waistband can really boost your productivity.
When you put on pants with a zipper, studies show you value yourself and your abilities more, sit up a little straighter and perform better at the tasks at hand. So maybe the clothes really do make the (wo)man.
Hack # 2: Design a space that inspires creativity and workflow.
A workspace that fails to inspire you can drain out all the excitement and perks working from home can provide. While it's tempting to work from the comforts of your couch with Netflix streaming in the background, there is something magical about a space designated explicitly for work and free from outside distractions. Whether its an office or a corner nook in your home- having a set spot can improve your focus and make you more productive.
How you choose to decorate your pad is entirely up to you. Perhaps you fill it with your WHY, a vision board of why you work so hard to begin with, or maybe inspirational quotes get you motivated. Hang some artwork, put out a plant and invest in an ergonomic chair. You need a space that's both comfortable and gets you excited to work in!
Hack #3 Cultivate a daily routine.
Once upon a time, I completely resisted the idea of establishing any kind of routine. Routines felt boring, tedious and mundane. I was winging my daily habits like I winged my eyeliner and let me tell you-it wasn't pretty. Part of my hangup on establishing a consistent workflow was I didn't think I could stick to one. I was the girl after all who'd join a cycle class the first week of January with complete fervor and gusto only to petter out and loose motivation mid-February.
When I finally figured out my business and sanity would feel a whole lot better if I wasn't spontaneously showing up every day with only a vague idea of what needed to get done I began to notice a huge shift.
Craft a routine that works for you. Maybe your formula for success isn't waking up at the butt crack of dawn, maybe you're a night owl who does your best work burning the midnight oil. Whatever it looks like for you, create a routine around the time of day you do your best work. For me, this changes with the seasons, so I'm constantly coming back to my routine and tweaking whats working.
Hack #4 Practice saying no
This one was especially hard for me because I'm a total people pleaser, but I found myself saying yes to all the wrong things and quickly learned there were a plethora of other fun things I could do instead of work and an abundance of people who were more than happy to procrastinate with me. Through time I realized those lunch appointments that turned into early happy hours and accepting invites to my friend's community theatre matinee were causing my business to suffer. I had to learn how to set boundaries and say no.
Hack #5 Get out of the office
Working from home can get lonely. And when you live and work within the same four walls, it's easy to develop cabin fever. For all the amazing benefits that come with the laptop lifestyle and being your own boss, the hidden dangers are disconnection, isolation, and straight up depression. While working from home may not require much human interaction, your soul does and a biweekly run-in with the ups driver isn't going to cut it. Find a community of like-minded individuals and cultivate these friendships face to face. Try taking your work outside whether that's a coffee shop, or investing in a co-working space like FLOCK a few times a month, just changing up the scenery can help combat the feeling of solitude. One thing that helped me was signing up for group fitness classes so I could meet other people in my community. Few things are more powerful for your productivity and energy levels than a good sweat session. Just don't petter out one month in!
Hack #6 Give yourself a break...literally
Anyone who runs a business or works from home can attest to how easy it is to have your work life and your personal life bleed into each other. Unplugging can be difficult when your home doubles as your office. As a creative whose weekends were spent photographing weddings, it was difficult for me to take time off. I'd compare my workdays with other people I followed online and thought I should be working when everyone else was. The few free Sunday's I did have, I found myself checking one more email or typing one last response (I promise) but before I knew it my day off had suddenly disappeared.
Taking time off and actually enjoying it was a blasphemous thought I couldn't seem to wrap my brain around. I'm a hard-wired and recovering perfectionist so the guilt would settle in anytime I tried to unplug and really enjoy myself.
If you're your own boss, be a good one, don't run yourself into the ground and burn out. If you want to be more productive, start by giving yourself permission to take time away. It's hard, but I promise you it's worth it.
Working from home presents its own unique set of challanges. Balancing deadlines, emails, laundry, interruptions, making dinner, relationships, fun and conquering the world is tough, but they all need space in your day. I'd love to hear from you. If you have a hack for how to be more productive while working from home leave a comment below!