Working from home is AWESOME. One of the things I like most about my affiliate marketing business is the ability to set my own hours and work from home. Actually, I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, but the vast majority of the time I’m working from home. Even though I love working from home, there have been some challenges I’ve been facing recently. I noticed my productivity was going down and it was enough to cause alarm. As someone who spends a lot of time on self-improvement, I knew I had to make some changes.
I’m not some psychologist or motivational speaker, but as someone who has been working from home full-time since 2011, I figured I’d share my experiences, and more specifically, what I’ve done to be more productive working from home.
I Began Using An Alarm Clock Again
I can literally work anytime I want, which of course is badass. The problem is, I tend to sleep in a little too late and this has a domino effect. When I sleep in late, I go to bed late. It was getting to the point where I was going to bed at 4am and sleeping in until at least noon. By the time I had some “breakfast” and got myself ready for the day, it was well into the afternoon! As someone who enjoys playing online video games with friends, I would start getting text messages to play around 6 or 7 after they were back from work. For me, the day was only half over, but the distraction to go play was too strong sometimes!
While I’m not someone who advocates conformity, it’s just a good idea to be on the same schedule as the people you know and society as a whole. What I did was compromise. I decided to set an alarm for 10am. I know this is laughable to many of your early birds, but one thing I really enjoy about working form home is the ability to stay up late and sleep in. I couldn’t stand getting up at 6:00am every morning for an office job I had for a while. I was miserable. So, to me, 10am was a fair compromise. It’s still “sleeping in” but it’s also a more reasonable time. Plus, I can still stay up late enough to make me happy. I can go to bed around 2am and still get a solid 8hrs of sleep.
So far, I’ve noticed this change has ABSOLUTELY made me more productive. I’m able to get quite a bit done, then take a break to play some games or do whatever else I want, then I can put in some additional hours late at night after most people have gone to bed.
If you’re already a morning person, you’ve got a big leg up on the rest of us. Many studies have shown that early risers tend to be more successful in their profession. For the rest of us schlubs, just try to set up a compromise and make sure you’re not oversleeping. Not only is oversleeping unhealthy, but it kills the amount of time you have to be productive as well as enjoy fun things outside of work!
I Started Dressing As If I Was Leaving The House
No, I didn’t start wearing a suit and tie. However, for years my favorite work attire has been sweatpants and a sweatshirt and no socks. It’s comfortable as hell, but I was wondering if it was putting me into the wrong mindset, if even at a subconscious level.
So, what I did was went to the store and purchased myself some comfortable jeans and some nice new comfortable shirts that fit me well. While I still dress pretty casually, I do dress myself in a way that says “I’m doing stuff today” rather than being in clothes that most people reserve for bedtime or cold and rainy days when they aren’t going to do anything but chill out and watch TV.
Surprisingly, I do think dressing in “I’m doing stuff” clothes does increase my productivity. Sure, I’m probably more comfortable wearing my sweats, but it’s a small sacrifice to pay in order to strengthen my business.
I Restored My Work / Life Balance
To say I’m obsessed about what I do for a living is a vast understatement. I love what I do and many would classify me as a workaholic. With that said, I’m not immune to burnout. I was finding many days where I just couldn’t get going, and I noticed many of those days occurred after a period where I had been working excessively. The burnout could last for days and even a week or more sometimes.
I decided that I needed to “force” myself to have some balance. I got back into a couple old hobbies and try to do something fun outside of work each day. I also try to limit my workdays, but sometimes I do still get carried away and put in a crazy number of hours. I’m working on that.
And finally, I decided to leave the house at least every other day, even if it’s just for a quick drive. When I say “leave the house”, I don’t mean go outside. I mean go somewhere far enough away that requires me to drive somewhere. Even if it’s just a quick trip to the store, I made it a habit to get out more. When we work from home, sometimes we really have no reason to leave the house for days on end. By forcing myself to get out of the house more, I noticed when I do work, I don’t have that “cabin fever” feeling.
I Started “Exercising” More
The reason I have “exercising” in quotes is because I don’t want to give the impression I was out running everyday or lifting iron. Far from it. But I did get more active.
When I first started working from home, I used to go hiking with my dog for several miles everyday. At the very least, we would go for an hour walk. Well, for the past year, I’ve noticed myself getting lazier and lazier. I now force myself to go for a walk with the dog every day and I’ve also extended our walking route. There is no disputing that making this change has made me more productive… and healthier! Not to mention my dog doesn’t complain about it in the slightest.
Side Note For Dog Owners – Another advantage to keeping your dog well exercised is your dog will become less of a distraction. Our dogs can be very distracting while we are trying to work. I can just about guarantee you that your dog will sleep a whole lot more and be more content if you increase the amount of exercise your dog is getting.
Those of us who work from home really have no excuse to not exercise. Remember all that time spent in your car commuting back and forth to work? That is time you’re saving by working from home and time we should all be using to keep ourselves a little healthier. As I said, you don’t have to start running marathons or even break a sweat, but at least go for a stroll and get the blood circulating a bit. Even just a short walk around the block each day can do wonders for your health and productivity.
I Set Up A Daily Routine
Now, I admit that I don’t have an air tight schedule. It’s not like I have to be doing something at a specific time and there are days when my routine is completely abandoned, but in general, I try to stick with a routine. I wake up about the same time each day, I shower and eat breakfast about the same time each day, I get my exercise at the same time each day, I work during the same hours each day, I take my breaks around the same time each day, and I go to bed around the same time each day.
I don’t do very well with time restraints or constrictions, so I took a different approach. The main thing I wanted to do is have some structure during my days. For a little while there, it was a free-for-all. I decided to put things in a certain order and try to roughly plan out my day. So far it’s been working very well and it looks like this:
I get up in the morning around 10am or so, let the dog out to do his business, and I make myself some breakfast. I catch up on the news a bit while breakfast settles, then I take the dog for a nice long walk before I come back to shower. Then, it’s time to work. I like to be working no later than noon and usually it’s right around then. This stretch of work usually lasts until about 6pm at which point I get some dinner, give the dog more attention, play some video games, get out of the house or do something else fun. Once I’ve had my fun for a few hours, I get back to work. This really varies a lot. Sometimes I get back to work around 8pm and sometimes it’s closer to 10 or 11pm. After that, I put in a little bit more work until around 1 or 2am before I head off to bed.
So while I don’t have any time restrictions on myself, and while each day is unique in its own way, that is what I do for the most part each day and in that order. By creating structure, I found it vastly improved my productivity.
I absolutely love working from home and the freedom it provides, but it does take a certain degree of self discipline that many people struggle with. When I worked at a corporate office job, I had to be there during certain hours and I was always being watched by my bosses. I couldn’t screw around on Facebook, YouTube, or update my fantasy football lineup while at work. While it’s great to not have someone looking over your shoulder, you lose that structure and extra kick in the pants to get back to work. Hopefully some of the tips above will help you to be more productive working form home as it has for me. Better yet? None of the above changes have made working from home any less enjoyable. In fact, by being more productive by making those changes, I feel my enjoyment of working from home is back to where it should be.
Got any tips of your own? If you have found ways to increase your productivity while working from home, please share in the comment section below. I’m always looking for ways to self improve and I just might like your ideas!