In the five years I’ve been self-employed, I’ve worked in multiple home offices, coffee shops, and co-working spaces. I've experimented with different office layouts and strategies. These experiences have taught me what it takes to be most productive.
Here are some of my best tips for being super productive in a ‘work from home' lifestyle:
Avoid High-Traffic Areas
Avoid high-traffic areas by choosing a quiet corner or room in the back of the house. Whenever possible, choose a room with a door that you can close.
Even if it’s not a permanent office space, choosing a room with a door can massively boost your productivity. It will reducing noise and interruptions by other members of your household.
Use Technology to Limit Distractions
There are endless amounts of things vying for your attention every day. The distractions multiply when you work from home. Your currency is time, and time is money. Aim to limit distractions as much as possible. Try out these awesome apps:
- RescueTime is an online tool that tracks your activity as you surf the web and provides reports based on how much time you spend on certain sites. This allows you to see how and where you’re wasting time so that you can set up boundaries to prevent distractions in the future.
- The FocusBooster Timer uses the pomodoro to track your time and intersperse small spurts of productivity with frequent breaks. The timer will go off after working for 25 minutes and then remind you to take a five-minute break before the next set of work is to begin.
- The Self-Control App is a free app that blocks certain websites and social media sites for a specified amount of time so you won’t be tempted to surf the web when you’re supposed to be working. It’s aimed at Mac users, but there’s also a Chrome extension available.
In addition to these apps, you could also use a task management system like Asana or Trello. They help you stay on track with your daily tasks and reminders. I like to organize my Asana tasks by color so that I can easily plan ahead and do my work in batches.
Listen to Motivating Music
The right kind of music can play a big role in how much (or how little) you can get done. I choose instrumental music that’s a bit upbeat. It helps keep my mind alert.
One of my favorite tools for getting lots of work done is the Focus@Will music app. It’s a service that’s backed by science to help you be more productive and reduce distractions while you’re working or studying.
I also suggest wearing headphones, as they can subtly signal to the outside world that you’re in the zone and are not to be disturbed.
Set Up a Filing Process
It’s important to understand how your brain and workflow function so that you maximize your output each day. I, for one, cannot work in a cluttered, disorganized space. I have a simple filing system setup for mail and documents that are incoming, that are currently being processed, and that are in need of filing. Then I review and file them every Friday.
To avoid clutter, I use a small office desk where there is just space for essentials, like a notebook, pens, and a computer/mouse.
Let in the Light
Having an office with good natural light is a game-changer for productivity. Years ago, while living in Texas, my desk faced a wall with the window on the other side of the room. It was dark and uninspiring.
Now, in Colorado, I have a smaller room. However, my desk faces two large office windows overlooking the street and the gorgeous mountains outside.
I love coming into a bright room in the morning and opening the window shades overlooking the beautiful scenery. Whenever possible, choose a room with a nice view and big windows.
Be Productive While Working at Home
It’s not always easy to be productive when you work from home. Regardless, I hope these tips will help you get back on track. The main thing to understand is how your energy is affected by your surroundings. Once you're more aware of this, you can focus on doing your best work.
Don’t forget to take regular breaks and fuel your body with healthy nutritious food. It’s all too easy to grab unhealthy snacks throughout the day. But your mind and body need healthy alternatives, as well as time for exercise every day.
It will take time to find your best work groove, but just be patient – and keep implementing these productivity tips, if you haven’t already.