Having the freedom to work from anywhere as an artist or online business owner is an amazing perk. But it’s easy to get distracted and lose productivity.
You’re at home, you should be able to wear comfortable clothes and do what you feel like in the moment. Sometimes, that means working late into the night to put the perfect finishing touches on a project. Other times, it means eating donuts and watching Netflix. There’s no one around to tell you otherwise, so why not?
But it should come as no surprise: Productivity and focus are two of the toughest tasks faced by at-home workers, and if you’re not careful, they could put your livelihood in jeopardy. When you have deadlines or personal goals to meet, there’s nothing worse than wasting a whole day.
If you can relate, it’s time for a change. Try out some of these productivity tips to help shift the way you work.
Reorganize Your Home Office
Bryn Huntpalmer, a mother of two and editor for Modernize, recently wrote about the benefits of making your office comfortable and versatile, and the importance of making rules for yourself and respecting your work. She made a few changes in her own office and was amazed at the fuel it brought for her daily routine. Sometimes a little changeup in your office or studio is all you need.
“Between the steady stream of squealing interruptions and chronic back pain, I knew that a change to my home office had to happen,” she wrote. “It was the only way this venture could be productive. Little did I know just how much this reorganization would positively affect my health and state of mind.”
Work in Your Zone
Find that sweet spot throughout the day when you feel most productive. Early morning hours or late at night, it should be a time when you naturally feel like getting things done rather than forcing yourself to be productive.
For Lindsay Kolowich, creative marketer for Hubspot, the early hours are her best time for creative flow. “When I work from home, I wake up, put on a pot of coffee, and start working immediately - much earlier than normal working hours,” she said on Twitter. “I only start making breakfast once I’ve hit a wall or need a break. I’m a morning person and find I can get a ton done in the early morning hours, so this works really well for me.”
Early mornings work for her, but they aren’t for everyone. If you’re a night owl, wear your weird hours proudly. Whatever the case, find your sweet spot and let the creative genius flow freely.
Change the Scenery
Unless you’re using equipment or a studio that requires you to work in your home office, try getting out of the house every once in awhile. Work at a coffee shop, frequent a public library, or sit in the commons of a local college campus. Each of these places offers free WiFi, and the change of scenery can remove the distractions of home life and get you motivated.
“Go to a Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or other WiFi enabled establishment with actual tables, chairs, and people,” is Corey Wainwright’s advice. “It helps simulate the work environment for me.”
It also works effectively as peer pressure to keep you working harder in front of others. Wainwright says, “I also refuse to play into the trope of being some jerk sitting at Starbucks not doing any real work, so I feel motivated not to mess around on Facebook all day to show there are still people who actually get stuff done at a coffee shop!”
Communicate With Housemates
Chances are, you’re not the only person home when you’re working. Maybe you share the space with your kids or your partner. Even small interruptions from loved ones can derail any sparks of creativity and concentration. That’s where good communication comes in handy. Though small kids may not understand your requests, you can communicate with your spouse and older children about your need for respectful boundaries while working.
“If anyone else is going to be at home when you’re working, they just have to be clear that when you’re in your ‘office’ (in my case, my signal to the family is having headphones on), you’re working - even if it looks like and feels like you’re hanging out at home,” suggests marketer and teacher Sam Mallikarjunan. “It’s easy to get distracted by the many things that have to be done around the house during the day.”
Working from home will always have its challenges when it comes to focus and productivity, but getting into your groove and finding what works makes all the difference. And a little communication with anyone you share the space with will help set boundaries and make it possible to maintain your productivity all day long.
But don’t get stuck in a rut. Be flexible with what it means to work productively. When you grow tired of your routine, change it. Your adaptability and willingness to listen to your desires for change will lead to a much more productive lifestyle.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffPost.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.