I’ve been working from home ever since I started my communications consulting business two years ago and I will confidently admit that getting started was not easy. I’ve always been a self-starter and have no problems with autonomy – in fact, I prefer it. But when you become your own boss with the freedom (or burden depending on how you look at it) of chasing your own goals and setting your own schedule, it can be really easy to become lazy really fast. The “I’ll get to that later” effect can kick in quick.
So how did I get on track? Here are five tips that will have you kicking ass and making the most of your work-from-home days.
1. Create A Dedicated Workspace
This is the most important first step you can take towards creating a successful work-from-home attitude. When I first started this venture I thought I could work from the couch or the kitchen table and be totally fine at staying motivated. Two seasons of Law & Order: SVU on Hulu later… I realized I wasn’t getting anything done.
Find a space in your home and make it your office. Whether it’s a spare bedroom or a corner big enough to house a desk, make it and make it yours. Having a dedicated office space puts me in gear and the best part is – I can decorate it however I want! No more stale workspace with poor lighting and smells of Cheetos from my cubie neighbor ruining my day. This is my space and because of that, I love “coming to work” everyday.
2. Set Office Hours
And make sure you shower. This is probably gross to admit but I can think of times I went three days before realizing I hadn’t showered. Oops… Not having to get dressed for work everyday sounds dreamy but it can turn stinky real fast if you don’t remember to take care of your personal hygiene. Setting office hours and getting dressed for the day (even if you change out of your PJs into yoga pants) can make all the difference. Think about it. You wear PJs to sleep. Sleep and work do not mix. Create a schedule for yourself, shower, get dressed and stick to it.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Scrolling through the void that has become Facebook is a huge time suck and my productivity’s arch nemesis. Checking a notification quickly turns into watching adorable videos of awkward cats and soldiers reuniting with their loved ones before clicking on a link to that article your mom shared (who knows, that might be how you got here!) before realizing your entire morning has slipped by.
Just because you don’t have to worry about your co-workers monitoring your cyber activity doesn’t mean you should spend all day checking your social accounts. Eliminate distractions by keeping your personal sites in separate browser windows. Then, take 10 minute breaks every hour or so to check on what’s happening in the world and then get back to it!
4. Make A To-Do List Everyday
To-do lists may sound elementary but they are great for keeping you on track. I write a list of things I need to accomplish for the day every morning. Then, if I ever feel like I’m approaching a lull or don’t know what to do next, I have a visual to turn to and get me back on track. I also try to not end my day until the list is complete. That way the tasks get done and I’m ready to start a new set of goals the next day.
5. Set Deadlines For Yourself
One thing I feel is missing when working from home is that sense of competition. Having co-workers to size up and bosses to please can be a big factor for one’s work drive. Eliminate competition and procrastination can start to take effect. By setting deadlines and holding yourself accountable to meet them, you will create a healthy dose of competition against yourself and the clock.