Recently, I quit my job and started running my two businesses full-time from home. It sounds like a dream; doesn't it? I get up, have my coffee, and travel all the way to the dining room to being my work day. I can work in my pajamas, take a lunch break whenever I want, and there's no boss breathing down my neck asking me for stuff.
There are no coworkers to interrupt me, no dreaded commute, and no horrible fluorescent lighting.
Yes, working at home sounds like living the dream, until you have the kind of day I had last week.
Writer's block -- it's the worst! You sit down to write, staring at the blank screen, looking at the keyboard; are the letters mocking me?
I think and then think some more. I get up and pour more coffee, I check my email, stare at the window, give the cat a treat, and then sit down, fingers at the ready. Nothing. Nada. Goose egg.
"Maybe today isn't a good day to write," I think, so I decide to switch over and do some billing, maybe work on updating a few training modules, or make a few sales calls. Again, I sit and stare and can't seem to gain momentum.
This my friends is what constitutes a no good, really bad, terribly rotten, unproductive day. But there are ways to get around this. If you work from home all the time, or even just some of the time, and you find it hard to get or stay productive, I hope some of the tips below will help you.
1. Get on a schedule. Get up the same time every day and have a definitive start time for work. If you were going to an office, your employer would likely expect you to arrive at a designated time. When you're working at home strive to do the same.
2. Change your clothes. Yes, you can work in your pajamas, and yes, that's fun to do, but changing into clothes (even if it's just sweats and a tee shirt) is important for signaling to yourself that it's time to get the day started. Again, you wouldn't wear pajamas to work, and when you are working at home you are essentially "going to work."
3. Cut out the distractions. One of the perks of working at home is that you can throw in a load of laundry while you answer email. That's fine if it's just a few minutes to dump the clothes in the washer and dryer and fold them when they're done, but don't make it a habit to do everything except work. Turn off the TV, log off your social media, and don't spend the day on the phone with your friends. If you wouldn't do these things at an office, don't do them at home. And speaking of offices...
4. Have a designated spot in your home in which to work. I work at my dining room table. I don't have a big enough place to have a separate office, but there's something about going into the other room and sitting down at the dining room table that signifies work for me. As tempting as it is to sit on the couch or sit on the porch, I know that's not where my work gets done. Once I sit at the computer the work day has begun and at the end of the work day, I close up the computer, return everything to its place and end the day.
5. Try to keep your work on a schedule. As a writer, it's sometimes hard to schedule my writing time because I have to write when inspiration strikes, but as much as I can I try to do the same tasks on the same days. Friday is "Finance Friday," where I do all my billing, financials, etc. Tuesday is when I publish my blog, and Monday and Wednesday I focus on marketing. That's not to say I don't take advantage of a great marketing opportunity if it come up on a Tuesday, but knowing what tasks will get done each day helps me have some focus and direction.
6. And finally, don't let people treat you like your unemployed. When I left my desk job my mother started to ask me to drive her around, saying things like, "Well, now that you're not working," or, "Well, since you don't have a job." I needed to make it clear to her, and everyone else, that I do work, I just don't go to a job.
That's not to say I don't take my mom places, but I schedule those tasks around my work just like I would do if I was working for someone else.
Working from home has lots of advantages, but if you're someone who is easily distracted or have a hard time staying on task, take some time to examine that before you take the leap. If you're finding that the no good, really bad, terribly rotten, unproductive days are frequent, you may want to consider finding a place where you can work outside of your home. A coffee shop or the local library might do the trick, or, if you have the means, you might consider renting a small space at an office building.
And if you do have one unproductive day here and there, don't beat yourself up over it. That might just be a sign that you're overworked and need to take some time to recharge. I hope you enjoyed this article, and now that you're done reading, get back to work!