Staying productive while working from home has been the single most challenging part of being my own boss. After reading stories from many other work at home employees or entrepreneurs, this seems to be a common theme for nearly anyone.
Thankfully I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way to combat these challenges. From using the right apps to creating boundaries,
That’s why I’ve started compiling a list of my favorite tips and tricks to staying productive while conquering your to-do list at home.
Use the Pomodora Method
There is no better method for forcing yourself to concentrate than by setting a timer and getting work done in intervals. The traditional method uses 25 minute intervals of focus followed by 5 minute breaks. However, you can adjust the time intervals to best suit you.
For instance, sometimes I will do 45 minute writing intervals followed by 10 minute breaks. During that 10 minute break, I will tackle house hold chores. This allows me to get even more done while giving my mind the necessary writing breaks.
You can also learn exactly how I use this method in my time block management post.
2. Put in Headphones (and listen to concentration music)
Drowning out distractions and using headphones can be one of the most productive moves you can make. It’s easy to get distracted if the TV is on, if cars are driving by, or even by the silence (if it’s too silent I get nothing done).
That’s why using headphones and music the right way can help you be significantly more productive. For me, this means no actual music that has words, but instead “focus music”. A good example is the brain.fm app.
Make sure to play around with what works best for you. Many people prefer focus music, some people prefer traditional music, while others simply appreciate the silence that a pair of quality headphones can provide.
3. Minimize Desktop Clutter
Reduced clutter often means reduced distractions. Not too mention, if there is constantly clutter, I find plenty of time to keep moving that clutter. For me, it’s literally an excuse to procrastinate.
That’s why I recommend closing all browser tabs, putting pens and pencils in their proper place, organizing your home screen, and removing any papers from your desktop before you begin your work day.
Read my ultimate guide to improving your desktop efficiency!
4. Use the Right Apps
There are so many apps that can drown out distractions, provide concentration tools, and easily organize all of your content. Many of them work across all platforms (phone, computer, ipad, watch) making them incredibly convenient and efficient.
I have an entire article dedicated to productivity apps; however, in general I recommend looking at focus enhancing apps (such as Focus Keeper), notification silencers, and organization tools on your phone that will make your day to day life more efficient.
If you need a productivity boost be sure to check out my 10 favorite productivity apps.
For more on health & fitness apps, check out my ultimate list of fitness apps for your goals.
5. Turn Off Phone Notifications
Have you ever tracked how many times your notifications have caused you to become distracted? Those Instagram notifications, text messages, and phone calls can consume all of your time and mental clarity quickly. Therefore, as much as our phones can improve our efficiency, they equally can be a productivity killer. Sometimes you simply have to shut it off.
On days when I really need to get things done, I will leave my phone in a different room, turn it off, or even uninstall my social media apps; therefore leaving me available for text messages but keeping me from checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too much.
I challenge you to log how often your phone distracts you (and how much screen time you spend on it in general). You might be surprised by just how much it’s hindering your money making ambitions.
6. Plan Your Work the Night Before
I’ve just started to implement a “night” routine and it’s already been a game changer. It really does two major things:
Helps me feel better about my current day.
Helps me eliminate wasted time due to overwhelm on the next day.
Sometimes when I have too much to do… I can’t figure out what to do. By taking time to plan the night before, I’ve eliminated this distraction in the morning; therefore, making me much more productive the next day.
I recommend coming up with a consistent and healthy evening routine that includes putting together the next morning’s goals. Routine and structure can go a long ways in productivity.
7. Pick One Clear Goal at a Time
This ties in strongly with tip number 6. There are so many different things that demand our attention in a day. However, there are only a few things that deserve our attention (not everything is going to get done). That why it’s important to pick one major goal for any given period and stick to it.
When you are planning your routine the night before, figure out where your priorities actually need to be. Pick one to three things that actually NEED to be done. When I don’t have a clear direction and just simply have “too much to do” I’m the most unproductive.
8. Set Work Hours For Yourself
It’s nice to have flexibility but too much flexibility can be a problem. Whether you are obsessed with spending too much time in your office or struggle to spend enough time in it, forcing yourself to have work hours can go a long ways.
For instance, I have a huge problem with taking personal phone calls and lunch dates during my afternoon. Sometimes these afternoon distraction takes so much productive time away that I’m forced to finish time on vacations or the weekends.
That’s why I’ve found it important to pick a 6 to 8 hour period where there are NO distractions. I can’t be distracted between 8 AM and 4 PM. I try to not take appointments, phone calls, or meetups during this time. Sometimes it’s difficult to stick to, but I feel a lot better in the long run if I do.
If you are new to running a business, at some point you are going to have to have non-negotiable routines. This would include having non-negotiable productivity hours where your blog, business, etc… comes first.
9. Improve Your Office Setting
If you don’t like what your designated office space looks like, change it. As a work at home employee or entrepreneur, you will spend a significant amount of time in that space. If you don’t like a particular space, you won’t be productive in it. That’s why it’s important to invest in it.
Look at your office as an investment in your resource. Fill it with things that delight you (or nothing at all if you prefer minimalism). Treat it better then you would a corporate office or cubicle - because you can - and that’s what sets working at home apart from working a typical 9 to 5 out of the home.
Whether it’s a more comfortable chair, better lighting, a new desk, or simple decorations, making yourself enjoy your workspace is going to be a must if you are going to spend significant time in it.
10. Ditch home for a coffee shop or co-working space
Sometimes when you just aren’t feeling it, you have to move. If I’m struggling to concentrate, the best thing I can do is simply get out.
That’s why I’ve recently starting investing more time into working in coffee shops and I LOVE IT. There really is something about being around other entrepreneurs/students, feeling the sunshine through the windows, and sitting down with nothing but my laptop and coffee. This energy helps me get so much more done. Best of all, it puts me in a much better mood.
However, the best part is how much more it helps me appreciate my office more once I’ve had a break.
If you are struggling with productivity at home and simply can’t shake it, grab your laptop and head to a coffee shop. You’ll thank yourself for doing it later.
Learn about the Pomodora method with this productivity article.
IT TAKES DISCIPLINE
Working from home takes discipline. There are always going to be distractions and no repercussions. That’s why it’s up to you to develop a structured and consistent routine that allows you to get things done. By proper planning, using the right tools, and drowning out unnecessary notifications, you will quickly find that working from home can allow you to be even more productive then working from anywhere else.
And when all else fails go to a coffee shop.