Many of us are stuck working from home. This is a blessing for those who need a break from co-workers and a curse for when the weather is this nice. Working from home can be fun; spending break time with family, pets, or video games. Maybe you could use the time to strike some long time honey-do’s off your ever-growing list. Staying productive at home is no easy task, though. It can present all-new challenges and little time to get into a productive groove, depending on your deadlines.
Today I’ll discuss 6 ways I stay on track while working from home. I have been a struggling procrastinator for years and I feel like it will always be a struggle for me. So even though I know how to fix my problems, implementing these counter-measures is a different story. I developed these methods while writing, blogging, marketing my novel, and reading, but I think you could use these for whatever sort of work you do from home. So without any more delay, let’s get into it.
1: Set goals and include penalties or rewards accordingly. I hear the tip to set goals all the time, but I rarely hear to punish or reward yourself. This one is easy. Set a goal for yourself, then come up with a carrot and stick that fits the task. If the task is exceedingly challenging, make the reward something you rarely indulge in. Make yourself want to complete the task. On the other hand, the stick should sting. Make sure you do not want the punishment but it should also be proportionate. I wouldn’t flog myself for failing to complete a chapter within the goal time.
2: Don’t work in pajamas. Treat each morning as if you are preparing to go to work. This isn’t just for productivity, but also for your mental health. I find I’m more likely to stray or drag my feet if I just roll out of bed and try to accomplish the day’s tasks. If you’re normally a morning showerer, shower in the morning just as you would on a workday. Brush your teeth, shave your face, comb your hair, put on actual pants. Eating breakfast is one I often overlook. Whatever your morning routine is, stick to it. Just because you are home, doesn’t mean you can be a slob. Self-care goes a long way for productivity. I know some of you are thinking something like “this grown man is telling me how to conduct my basic, everyday hygiene routine.” You aren’t wrong. Not all these tips will be for everyone, but for those who need to hear it, here it is. If I learned one thing in the Army, it’s that each person has a slightly different definition of good personal hygiene and self-care. Some other things may fall under this tip, like don’t day drink. This isn’t a staycation. You still have work to be done. Save the celebratory beer for quitting time. If you don’t do it at work, don’t do it while working from home.
3: Figure out what part of the day you are most productive, and work during that time. This is an obvious one that is harder to put into practice. If your work best in the morning, finish your morning routine, eat a good breakfast, and get to work. Do not let other tasks eat up your productive time. I personally work better in the afternoon. I’m more creative once my brain is fully awake. I like to do the housework or yard work earlier in the day and let my mind wander to my current project. I take a bunch of notes so that when it’s time to write, I have a solid jumping-off point.
4: Eliminate distractions. TV, social media, video games, etc. Whatever you enjoy doing on your time should be out of reach while you’re working. I even go as far as listening to only instrumental music. Lyrics distract my mind while I’m writing. Family members could be distracting as well. The kids aren’t in school right now, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, your third cousin, that guy you said could crash on your couch while he gets some things figured out. Some of these people may be trapped in your home with you. It may be hard to find a place where you can be alone to work. At this point, you would just have to explain that what you are doing requires uninterrupted concentration. Don’t set up on the couch in front of the TV and get annoyed when someone turns it on. Find someplace to tuck away and do your work.
5: Take breaks. This is the time to rest your mind and do whatever you want to do. Make sure you set your break times and stick to them. Don’t just take breaks whenever. Specific times and durations. On your break, spend some time with the dog outside, watch a few Youtube videos, or destroy your child in Mortal Kombat, remind the kid who’s boss. Whatever you do, do it during your predetermined break time.
6: Have a concrete quitting time. This allows you to push through to the end to complete your goals for that day. It also provides a solid deadline for your rewards or penalties. When I have implemented this, there have been several times I have worked all the way to the last minute and when the time was up, I felt like I had much more to give. This is a good thing because I had an exciting place to start the next day. Be sure to take good notes on what you were trying to accomplish and how you planned to proceed.
And that’s all I have for you today. If you have any good productivity tips, be sure to leave a comment for me or anybody else who may need it. If you found this post helpful, please share it. If you are new to the blog, please check out my previous posts. I put a new one up every Friday. I discuss writing, self-publishing, and I write prompts that I find on Reddit.
If you are running low on reading material, check out my debut novel, Well of Bones. You should check it out even if you have a mountain of a TBR. Use the link below or click the Well of Bones tab above to learn more. Thanks for reading.
Until next week,