It seems like more people are buying into the “digital nomad” lifestyle. Pack your laptop, manage job responsibilities, and work at home from the comfort of your living room. Sounds like a dream, right?
Aside from blogging, my “day job” allows me the ability to work at home. While I’m grateful for the freedom and flexibility, I know it’s not for everyone. Even my husband would go completely bananas if his office was at home. He loves the change of scenery, routine, and work-life separation.
Me on the other hand? I’m a big fan of wearing leggings, throwing in a load of towels, and reheating my coffee for the eighth time as I sit down for a conference call. Over the past year and half of working at home, I’ve learned (and sometimes struggled) to find the balance between working, living, and truly being productive.
In this post, I’m sharing a few tried and true tricks for ramping up productivity when your “office” is mobile. Whether you’ve got a rigid schedule or work a few hours as you please, I hope these tips are helpful!
Rise and shine with a morning routine
Not having to commute saves hours per week. It’s a huge selling point when you work at home! But just because you don’t have to get ready, doesn’t mean that it’s best to roll out of bed fumbling for your laptop.
Getting up early, just like I would for a normal commute, was a hard adjustment for me. (Especially in early parenthood with nights of interrupted sleep. You win, snooze button..) But scrambling to wash my face, get dressed, and fix breakfast all before I signed on to work left me feeling frantic.
Waking up slowly and even getting in a bit of self-development or reading time before the workday helps create a much healthier rhythm. Use the extra minutes to look over your schedule for the day so you know how to crush your to-do list.
Embrace time-blocking strategies
Oh, Instagram feed – you can sabotage even the most productive remote worker. Did you know that some research shows it takes almost 30 minutes to get back on track once you’ve abandoned a task?
No wonder I meant to text my mom then look at the clock an hour later and I’m downloading coupons to my Kroger app. Yikes.
Time blocking is when you set aside a dedicated amount of time to finish a task. No breaks, no interruptions, just work. It sounds a bit intense, but it actually saves time. This is because you’re cutting out all of the wasted minutes you would normally spend on social media, looking up dinner recipes, or otherwise procrastinating.
I started using a small digital kitchen timer to pace my tasks, and it works wonders! It was eye-opening to see how much time I was using up on the really simple things I needed to get done. When you can see those seconds ticking away, it’s even more motivating.
Set the environment for your work at home life
Honest #WAHM (work at home mom) confession – one side of my living room couch looks a lot more worn than the other. It’s the result of way too many work days curled up in one position, probably under a blanket balancing a cup of coffee precariously on the armrest. And while I’d like to think that’s the best spot, productivity happens when the environment inspires you to hunker down and work.
One of my resolutions this year was to make more use of my actual office. Lisa Jo from the Art of Simple also recommends using a desk or dedicated area that helps you get your game face on. I’m still working on making mine feel cozier (hence the new essential oil diffuser!)
I also love what my friend Natalia at Sweet Heritage Company did for her office. She used a blank spot in her kitchen and a creative shelving solution from Ikea to plant a workspace in a spot that worked well for her and her family during busy days. (You can also meet Natalia in my last post!) This goes to show that even if you don’t have a separate home office, you can create an environment that you love to work in.
Make choices simple
Part of the work at home life includes more freedom to decide how you spend your time. But sometimes, too much flexibility leads to counterproductive hours spent on small daily decisions.
I was literally astounded when I heard two of my favorite blogging mentors (Alex and Lauren from Create and Go) say that they ate the same lunch for days on end when they started working from home. Why? Because deciding what kind of elaborate meal to cook took up way too much of their work time!
Even though I’m not super rigid with my meals, I do have much more effective days when I plan out things like this. What I’m going to wear or eat, when to take needed breaks, the days that I need the sitter to stop by. I can take the stress out of busy days by knowing how to keep things simple.
Establish good work at home boundaries
This one’s important for almost all of us, work at home life or not. Email, Slack channels, and project management apps are easier to access than ever before. (Check out Google’s Digital Wellbeing for help on staying productive with boundaries. It’s awesome!)
As a working mama, sometimes post-bedtime work is necessary if we’ve had a crazy day. I’m thankful for the flexibility to squeeze in a few projects or messages when I can, but I also know how important it is to have separation to give my mind a break.
For our family, this looks like carving out “no phone” time as much as possible between the hours of 5:00 and 7:30 each night. Since we’re all together, we want that time to be more about dinner and laughs than about responding to anything. We also try:
- To fully embrace the weekends as much as possible
- To truly unplug on the days we take off from work
- Seting our phones physically out of reach when we need to
Believe it or not, it boosts productivity to have dedicated work time, as well as time to rest and recharge. Find the balance that works best for you!
So what about you – do you already work at home or hope to work remotely one day? What tips help you stay productive?