These 9 work-from-home tips will help you stay productive whilst allowing you to strike the perfect balance between family and work time.
Working from home is a great way to juggle the responsibilities of family life with the need to make money. If you work from home, or are a stay-at-home-mum who’s considering starting your own business, then these tips will help you stay focused, productive, and on track.
I worked from home for eight years on The Organised Housewife before moving out into an office. I loved the flexibility that working from home gave me, but I did need to be very disciplined when it came to avoiding distractions and staying productive. I had to make sure I wasn’t distracted by housework or television, and by the same token I needed to ensure that work didn’t distract me from my family. It took a lot of discipline to work from home, but it was achievable to create a good home/work balance. Here are the top productivity tips I learnt that helped me successfully work from home.
Whilst we are all different in how we work – messy vs tidy, daylight hours vs night, the different routine of our families – these tips for working at home can be easily adapted to suit you and the way you like to work.
1. Create A Designated Workspace
As comfortable as it may be to work from the couch, this delightful and comfy setting will hinder your productivity. Create a corner or room in your home as a designated space for your work instead. If your dining table needs to be your office, try and ensure you have a tidy kitchen so you aren’t looking at the mess while trying to work.
I used to share my office with my hubby (who also worked from home) and my assistant. We created a great space that was light and fresh. I purchased the desks and drawers from Ikea, and on the wall I had a big blog editorial calendar (I work well with visual aids) and above an inspiration board to keep me motivated. I am a huge advocate for having positive affirmations in your work space and still have them to date. That’s why I created these affirmation cards last year – they come with a tidy timber stand and feature a unique card for every week of the year!
2. Create Working Hours
The beauty of working at home is you can choose your own hours and the amount of hours you work.
I love my work and could easily do it 7 days a week, but this balance is not healthy. When I was working from home I set hours to work during the week, strictly from 10am-3pm. I didn’t enter the office after these hours or on weekends, which helped me stay away from all things work related. If I wanted to go online I used my iPad or laptop – never the office!
I could easily fill up all hours in the day with tasks I needed to for the blog. It was not uncommon (and still isn’t!) for me to switch the computer off with tasks still on my to-do list and over 100 unread emails… but my theory was that it was my time with the kids and it could all wait until tomorrow.
3. Find Time To Exercise
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “I have so much to do and no time to exercise” excuse. I put my hand up that I used to be like that, but it’s not good for our bodies to sit all day without moving. When I was working from home I started to integrate a morning walk into my routine (and still do this now!). It’s important to fit in time to move your body and get some fresh air and sunshine, and it has always helped energise me for the day ahead.
My fur-baby Zoe agrees with the importance of a morning walk – LOL!
4. Create A Routine
Treat working at home like a regular job. Get up in the mornings, have breakfast, exercise, shower, get dressed, do tasks around the home like cleaning and washing, then start work. Being showered and dressed will help you to feel refreshed and ready to start the day.
Create a routine for the areas that you know can swallow up time, so you can be more productive. Social media can be a huge time waster, which is why I used to schedule Facebook and Instagram time into my coffee breaks at home. I would start writing a blog post, then have a coffee after one hour. This is when I would check social media, and once I’d finished my coffee I would switch Facebook and Instagram off.
I created this A4 Weekly Planner Notepad to help me plan out my week at a quick glance, and ensure that I stuck to my priorities for the week.
5. Screen Calls & Limit Distractions
Phone calls can become a distraction and before you know it an hour of productive work time has just gone out the window and your deadlines are not met… which means you end up eating into your home/family time. If you don’t need your phone, turn on the ‘do not disturb’ function so that you don’t get sidetracked.
I truly love my family and friends but they often assumed that because I worked at home, I wasn’t busy. I would screen my phone calls through the day and message those that had called to check they were okay and to let them know I was working and couldn’t take the call right then. If they had called for a chat, I would call them back later that afternoon, on the weekend or schedule a time to catch up for a coffee.
I have even stopped answering the door for those dear lovely people who would come around and see if I was interested in putting solar on my roof, or signing up to something they were trying to sell. In the end they only served to distract me from my work.
6. Keep Your Desk Tidy
I love the saying “tidy workplace, tidy mind” because for me a messy desk is a distraction and disrupts productiveness, especially when I’m trying to find paperwork. When I worked from home my office didn’t have doors, so my desk was visible to everybody in the house. For my own sanity and love of being organised I liked to keep it tidy. It drove me crazy starting work with an untidy desk – it was like starting the day with an untidy mind, so I made sure that I left it tidy before I picked the kids up from school. It’s a habit that I still do today, even in my office away from home.
On the flip side though, there is an article by David Burkus on Forbes which explains when it makes sense to have a messy desk and when to keep it tidy. If a messy desk resonates more with you then go with that – it’s all about finding your style of productivity and working with that.
7. Consider Your Attire
I love my PJs and could happily wear them all day, but it would also make me feel lazy and sluggish which in turn wouldn’t be very productive. Speaking of sluggish, when I was working from home and felt tired or knew that I had to get through a long to-do list, I would work in my gym clothes. It improved my mentality, made me feel more active, and helped me complete tasks quicker.
8. Use A To-Do List
When I worked from home around my children’s schedule, I had limited time to waste. This is why I created a Things To-Do List. I am such a forgetful person, and still to this day rely on my to-do list daily. I put all tasks onto my list, then prioritise each one and add due dates. I usually look at my to-do list before I shut down each day so I know what is due the next day, I can then create a game plan with a quick glance at this list. I ensure that I complete my regular daily tasks before I start on my to-do list. I also spend some time managing my to-do list on a Friday afternoon to help me structure the following week.
9. Turn Off Notifications & Limit Multi-Tasking
Focus on one task and resist the urge to multi-task. Close down emails and switch off Facebook and Instagram… ooh the horror! It was amazing how much this improved my focus and how eliminating simple distractions like this allowed me to work more efficiently.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP TIP FOR WORKING AT HOME?
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