how to manage your time when working from home
As a former teacher, having the summers off to work on my small business gave me a taste of the independence and flexibility that I desperately longed for. When school was in session my head was often in the clouds dreaming of the day I could go full-time in my business. I would rush home from teaching so I could get to work on my business and often stay up late into the night getting things done. I decided earlier this year to leave my teaching career, and have since been working from home full time for the last couple of months. As I've embarked on this new journey, I've learned just how much discipline it requires to have this opportunity.
If you're aspiring to work from home some day, or if you're already working from home but struggling to find a rhythm, I've come up with a few helpful tips to make your days more productive:
1. Establish a morning routine. If you don't have one already, you need to get one. Having a solid morning routine sets the tone for the day. I'm a total night owl, so I usually get up later in the morning, but that doesn't mean a routine goes out the window.
I like to take my mornings slow -- I usually get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, and head downstairs to make coffee. Then I'm back upstairs to make my bed while I watch TV or listen to a podcast. Once that's done, I sit down to spend some time working on my computer -- answering emails, updating my website, blogging, etc. I usually give myself an hour or so to do any computer work before I get started on the other aspects of my business. Find what works for you -- whether that's getting up and meditating, cleaning, working out, or doing some reading before you get started with the rest of your day.
2. Change your clothes. Of course one of the many perks of working from home is that you can wear whatever you want. You can totally wear yoga pants all day if you really want to, but it's important to actually change out of what you wore to bed, even if it's just to put a fresh set of comfy clothes on. If you find the yoga pants uniform is hindering your motivation, try changing into something a little less lazy-chic and a little more business casual.
3. Set up your space. I make serious effort to keep my work spaces clean and bright. A messy work space gives me anxiety and makes me super unproductive. By keeping my space clean and organized, I find I'm more productive and less distracted. I know where all of my materials are and can easily access them when I need them. That being said, there are days when I need a break from my space -- heading to a local coffee shop, library or community work space are great options when you need a change of scenery.
4. Keep a list. I'm a huge fan of lists -- but keeping a massive to do list of EVERYTHING I need to get done can make it seem like I don't accomplish much each day. So instead, I focus on a shorter, more specific, and more manageable to do list each day. I think about what I can tackle during my work day, and what absolutely needs to get done. I do keep a "master list" of bigger tasks that I need to accomplish in the long run, but rather than including "work on blog" I might be more specific on my to-do list and say "work on blog for 30 minutes" or "finish and publish blog post." It's less overwhelming that way, and allows you to really prioritize your work. I created a daily planner that you can download here for FREE.
5. Keep a planner. Just like keeping a list, I use a planner to help keep all of my events, blog posts, products orders, and other important dates organized. For whatever reason I can't get used to digital calendars, so I usually purchase a planner from Target or download one I can print out. Whether you prefer a digital or pen-to-paper method, keeping a planner is absolutely necessary when working from home.
6. Work in chunks of time. I can't tell you how much chunking out my tasks has helped me stay focused throughout the day. There are days I literally set a timer for each task to keep myself on track. I like to work in 20-30 minute intervals for most things on my to-do list, especially if they are things I know I will need to work on for several days in a row. Rome wasn't built in a day, and your business or blog won't be either.
7. Take breaks. This doesn't need much elaboration. We all need them. Take a few minutes between your chunks of time to give your brain and your body a recharge. Do the dishes, throw a load of laundry in, paint your nails, grab a snack -- whatever you need to do to give yourself a break in your day.
8. Get moving. If you incorporate consistent exercise into your routine, great. If not, I highly recommend getting out for a walk, doing some stretching, or finding a type of workout that works best for you and start making it part of your day. Exercising gets those endorphins going, and will certainly help you regain focus when you feel your motivation starting to burn out.
9. Set aside time for YOU. It's easy to get carried away when you work from home. There were many days where I would work from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. I've gotten to the point now where I set an end time so that I can have time to spend with family and do things for myself that are separate from my business.
10. DON'T forget to EAT. It's easy for me to become so consumed in my work that I unintentionally skip meals. Food is your FUEL and you need to make sure you're nourishing your body. Prepping meals at the beginning of the week, or even as part of your morning routine is an easy way to make sure you're not skipping any meals throughout the day.
Do you work from home? How do you keep yourself organized and productive? Share your personal tips below!