Let’s face it – working from home has a bad rap. People assume if you work from home, you don’t work as hard as people who work out of a company office every day. “You must wear your pajamas all day, watch TV, and even take naps.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, there are some people who simply can’t figure out how to be productive if they are working from home, I get it. The question that I get asked most frequently is -“How do you get anything done working from home?” Here’s the thing though – when you do NOT work from home – then home is a place you go that means you are clocked out. For some people walking through their front door (or garage door, back door, etc. you get the idea) is the moment they feel like they are truly off. Time to relax, throw on your comfy clothes & binge watch Netflix. For me, I still spend time relaxing when I’m at home but when I stared working from home it required I make a mental shift that even though I might physically be at home – I’m actually at work. Don’t get me wrong – it takes an incredible amount of self-discipline and time management.
Work from home jobs paying significant aren’t really just lying around. If they were , they’d be snatched up. When I first started working from home, I really didn’t understand why so many people seemed envious of it. I felt like I was working twice as much because I was struggling to walk away and “leave something for tomorrow”. It’s now been over a year and a half since I started working from home so I have definitely had plenty of time to see the benefits. I still go to a company office a minimum of 1-2 times a week but some things have been so much easier having the capability of working from my house. For example when my son is home sick – I can work while he naps; or when we got our puppy earlier this year I was able to be home to potty train her so she was potty trained in less than two weeks.
Something you may not know about my life is – almost two years ago – my husband went to school to get his real estate license. He landed one of those “too good to be true” kind of jobs where he was able to work from home. He started the position a few months before I took my promotion and it just happened to work out – we now both work from home. When we first started this; people would ask us ALL the time if we just talk to each other and hang out all day. We always laugh because we actually barely speak to each other during the day. We are both self-driven people and take our work seriously.. sometimes too seriously – ha! Anyways, with that being said – something my husband and I always agree on is that working from home actually makes us feel more productive. There are less interruptions – there aren’t customers or co workers coming in and out of your office all day. Typically if someone is going to make the effort to call you – it’s important (or for a specific reason at least). However when I am in a company office it is much easier for someone to walk in and want to chit-chat about their weekend or vent about something going on in the business.
One misconception is that all people working from home make their own hours. Unless you run your own business (and even if you do..) most jobs (and customers) demand specific hours from you. If you have employees who answer to you then your start time probably is based around when they begin work so you can be ready to problem solve and take their calls. If you simply deal with customers then you might get away with starting a little later but even with customers you have to be predictable. They need to know they can count on you. With that being said, setting an alarm is still a must. Sure, just like any job – there are times I wish I could just shut my alarm off (or maybe even throw it across the room) but I get up like I would if I had to go into an office. Next, I get dressed in the morning. This is important because when I’m wearing pajamas, I feel like I should be doing pajama things– sleeping, watching TV, playing on my phone, etc. However whenever I’m wearing “real clothes” I feel like I should be doing “real clothes” things–working, writing, responding to emails, grocery shopping, tidying up, etc. I do my hair and make up, & get dressed before I begin work; (yes, even on the days I don’t have to drive my son to school). I strongly believe there is a deep correlation between how I look, how I feel, and what I do.
After I am ready for the day the next thing I typically do is look over my to-do list. I’m a visual person, so seeing my thoughts mapped out helps me to organize them and set goals, create action plans, and determine tasks to get things done. You can read more about how I use my planner here. I write everything from people I need to call, reports I need to create, items I need to review, tasks I need to complete for work, – to things I need to do at home. This is also important because it can be SO easy to get distracted at home when you see laundry piling up, dishes in the sink, or maybe some dust on the TV stand. I can’t stop working to get it done but having it written down as part of my to-do list helps. Messes are distracting and actually make my mind feel cluttered – so it’s an absolute MUST I make sure I set aside a chunk of time to straighten up my house regularly. Seeing that I have a plan to get it done puts my mind at ease and helps me stay focused on other tasks I need to accomplish.
When I am reviewing my work to-do list I try to tackle my biggest, least favorite, task first. It helps to get the “worst” thing out of the way so I don’t spend all day stressing about it, plus it makes everything else I have to do feel that much easier. If you have tasks that are things you know you have to do every day – you could make dry erase checklists. Hand write or type up your list of things you need to do everyday and then laminate them so you can use dry erase markers to check them off – then wipe them clean at the end of the day. For reusable checklists, hot laminating works best. I use a scotch laminator like this one. I don’t personally use them for myself but I do have them for my son for things like cleaning his room. It really helps him stay focused and make sure he completes everything he needs to to ensure his room is “mom-clean”. 😉
I have a designated area to work. At our old house, I kept everything on our kitchen table (which drove my husband absolutely bonkers but we had very limited space). It worked well because I went to the same spot everyday but I have to admit once we moved into our new home & I ended up with a small office – it has been wonderful. Just like I do when I work in a company office – I make sure to keep my desk clean and clutter-free. I have set up my printer, planner, monitors, and pens so that I can access them quickly throughout the day. My desk is a happy place to work. Create a space that inspires you. For me? I have motivating quotes, and of course Gilmore Girl decor surrounding my desk. 😉
I have saved money since I started working from home. Sure, maybe on the gas expense but really? The main thing I’ve said on is eating out. When I work out of a company office, it becomes habit to want to step out of the office and go grab a bite to eat & get a break. At home, I can go into my kitchen and fix something up and relax for a few minuets. Being able to walk out of my office into another room that I would normally lounge around in – helps me unwind for a short break without having to waste $10 on a sandwich.
Stay off of social media! Some people need someone to tell them to stay off their phones or not to visit certain websites on company time. Others are capable of deciphering between acceptable breaks & excessive usage. I limit my play time based on my workload for the day – the less I need to get done the more likely I am to check out Facebook newsfeed more often. The more work I have to get done, the less likely I will be to respond to a text message, check social media, etc. Self discipline – I know you have it in you! Incase you don’t – they offer apps that you can program to disable you from visiting certain apps/ sites during certain time frames.
After commuting to and from my company office (which is roughly an hour and a half away) – I have burned myself out on music. I still love listening to music – especially in the car- but by the time I got to the office – it was just noise and no longer soothing. I started putting Netflix on in the background (only something I have seen before so I wouldn’t be distracted trying to follow a new show 😉 ) and it works for me. I realize this wouldn’t work for everyone so if it doesn’t work for you – there’s always the radio or great apps like Pandora or Spotify. I recently have gotten into Amazon Prime music because they have so many different playlists that I LOVE. Music in the background can help you stay upbeat and you may even find certain types of music actually make you work harder and faster. Find what motivates YOU!
If you are still having trouble getting things done – set a timer. Set the timer and try to get as much done during that amount of time as possible. Then set the timer for a break. When the break is over, start all over. This isn’t something I have personally tried but I can tell you it works wonders for my son. We started out setting the timer for home work – for example when he is supposed to read for 20 minuets – but then we started setting it during his math problems. We would set the timer for 15 min. and tell him to get as much as done as he can in those 15 min. It was incredible to see how much more he could accomplish if we set the timer compared to no timer – where homework would be dragged out all night. As I said in the beginning – working from home doesn’t work for everyone but hopefully with some of the tips I’ve shared – you can make it work for you! Do you have any tips or tricks that work for you? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments below or shoot me an email!