It’s been about six months since I decided to move our PR company to a “virtual environment” (i.e. the four of us each work from home). In some ways, nothing’s changed and in other ways, it’s been a major adjustment and I’ve learned a lot about how to be more productive working from home. For the record, I am about 90 percent thrilled with the decision I made; the other 10 percent of me misses the daily camaraderie and impromptu conversations that go with being in the same space.
I’ve definitely had to find new strategies to ensure productivity at home (and ignore all the crap around here that needs to get done) so whether you’re someone who regularly works from home, is considering starting a part-time business or even splitting your time between and office and off site, use these strategies to ensure you’re more productive working from home. Plus, comment below if you have additional strategies…. would love to hear.
GET DRESSED FOR THE DAY. This is an obvious one and one you’ll see on every list so I’m starting here. If you think nah, I can wear my workout clothes and jump right into work, don’t fool yourself. I learned the hard way. I either shower and get dressed for the day or hit the gym at 8 am as soon as the kids go to school… this way I’m back at home by 9 am at the latest. Being dressed for work, one, puts you in the work mindset, and two, ensures you’re ready for whatever comes your way!
CREATE A DEDICATED SPACE. Ideally, you’ll be able to create real office space for yourself and you can take time to make it feel like yours. If you’ll be working at your kitchen table, consider organizational tools to get your space together — perhaps you can have a bin that goes out each day with your computer and has your notepad, pens, etc — and if you have a desk space, organize it right away so you always have on-hand what you need to accomplish your day.
KNOW WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Some experts will tell you to close your office door at the end of the day, but hey, everyone has different strategies. One gal in my office cranks out so much during the day and fits in yoga classes, too. She works hard, accomplishes everything by the client deadline and is responsive — so if she can focus at 8 pm for three hours, great. Not every business has that luxury and we certainly have things that require urgency, however a lot of press material development and strategy planning can be done at night… and sometimes more effectively without the distractions. Point is: be sure you give yourself real breaks and time off but enjoy the fact that you can do it when it works for you.
IGNORE THE LAUNDRY, AND THE DISHES… AND, AND, AND. This is a tough one and I’m definitely guilty here and there but I’ve learned to put blinders on during the work day, or even closing doors since my office is upstairs near sometimes messy bedrooms that are instant distractions.
DO NOT START A NEW SHOW! My girlfriend Jenny told me this and she made a genius point. It’s impossible to focus on work when you have the lure of seven seasons of Friday Night Lights. Do yourself a favor; just don’t do it! Even this past week I was two episodes behind on Nashville and I just had to watch them.
CREATE LISTS. It’s so easy for time to evaporate. Use links and chunk segments of time so you only let yourself get a break once you finish a project or grouping of tasks. I can be a master procrastinator or somehow go down a rabbit hole after seeing a sale; knowing I can’t get up or take a 15 minute break until I’m done with a few key tasks helps me stay productive.
KEEP YOUR PHONE ACROSS THE ROOM! Do you ever find yourself on Instagram not even fully realizing how your phone got in your hand in the first place?! LOL, this girl is totally guilty, and it happens even more often at home. I started charging my phone across the room so I don’t absentmindedly pick up the phone and not realize it, and it’s been a huge help! The ringer is still on so I still hear calls and texts, of course, but the impulse to connect with my phone every five minutes is minimized.
MEAL PLAN. This goes for lunch and dinner… for you, and anyone you’re responsible for. Some days I have it all planned, or have a lunch meeting, but on the days when I don’t and there’s a million snacks in here and no real stuff to make a lunch, it’s so frustrating. I either go out and get something, which can be a huge time suck, or I wind up eating 127 almonds, a protein bar, pineapple and who knows what else I get my hands on. Just because you’re working from home, don’t assume you’ll automatically have here everything you need.