Productivity, when you work from home, can be subjective and a challenge to stay the course. If you’re in your pajamas all day while reading mystery novels on your Kindle, fighting baddies in video games or enjoying tasty snacks after snacks, something may need to change.
Yes, change can be hard. It requires action. You’ll have to define your goals and perhaps accept that you have been expecting too much of yourself. All are good things, promise. To back up these claims, here’s a look at a few working from home tips that will keep you productive.
Write Your Goals Then Tear the List Up
Most people list too-lofty goals for their work day. For example, you might sit down at your desk and choose these daily goals:
- Run 4 miles
- Chat with ten prospective clients about a new service
- Make one social media post on each platform
- Write a blog post
- Research emerging trends in the field
- Test-drive the next-generation product
- Brainstorm ideas for the next next-gen product
- Reply to every email that comes your way because it’ll make customers feel special.
And that’s for before lunch! That overwhelming, massive amount of work you’ve decided to shoulder could be the main culprit behind your productivity drain.
The reality is that working from home means being practical. Yes, dreaming is marvelous; however, the goal is getting you to stay productive. You can’t do that when you have 100 tasks staring back at you.
So, yes, we recommend writing down that list of lofty goals and tear it up.
Determine the Bare Minimum That Has to Be Done
Chances are you have to make a certain amount of money working from home to stay afloat. The next step is to determine what that amount is and the bare minimum of work required to reach it.
Next, write a new list of goals. It will probably be more realistic than the “I’m dreaming” list you wrote first.
Without the weight of too many expectations, you’re more likely to feel free. You may find yourself looking forward to work, and the odds go up that you’ll start doing more.
Do Things Other than Work
If you worked in an office, you probably didn’t work all of the time. You’d socialize with co-workers, check social media, step out for coffee breaks and take mini-walks, for example. These small breaks allow you to recharge, yet many folks who work from home feel guilty if they do anything other than work for at least eight hours.
Balance is important. Take these breaks. Don’t spend all of your time staring at a computer. In fact, going to the gym or having lunch at the park to let your thoughts wander, and you’re likely to come up with some terrific business ideas when you thought you were unproductive.
Set a Routine
While breaks and spicing up your workday every once in a while are essential, it’s also important to have a regular set of actions. Establishing a good routine is true no matter how technical or how creative your field.
Several elements of an effective routine tend to include:
- Having set times for checking email and social media
- Making time for exercise and other breaks
- Working with the times you are most productive/creative rather than working against what comes naturally to you
- Designating times, either specific or more general, for starting and ending your workday.
There will be days when you can’t stick to your routine as much as you would like or when you realize something else might work better. That’s fine! Don’t be afraid to experiment and to have routines that vary, for example, if your business is heavily seasonal.
There’s a lot of work you might be doing that you could outsource to a freelancer or contractor. For instance, you could hire someone to perform some of your market research, to answer your phones and emails or to prepare a PowerPoint presentation.
You have your skills and things that you do best. Nevertheless, if you’re not well-versed in something such as, say, preparing eBooks, then you could be wasting valuable time. That doesn’t mean you need to give up on the idea of using a free eBook download to provide educational content to prospective clients. It merely means that you outsource the work or find outside collaborators.
Since we are on the topic of working with others, it is okay to say “no” to clients. Be protective of your time!
Often, people who work from home are self-employed. They don’t have bosses setting deadlines for them or motivating them.
Feeling like you’re on your own is overwhelming, so give yourself a break. Set your expectations on a realistic level, and settle into a routine that helps make your work enjoyable.
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MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.