Any creative business owner knows that working from home can be a blessing and a curse.
I’ve been working from home at least part-time, for the last five years, and I can tell you that it can be the biggest blessing. I love saving time by not having a commute. It gives me so much flexibility to make doctor’s appointments or do errands. And of course, I love my dress code of yoga pants and a messy bun every day.
But it’s not always the easiest getting used to this adjustment. When you’re working from your own home, a lot of distractions can pop up, taking you away from your work.
Over the years, I’ve noticed three things that have helped me stay on task while working from home.
How to Stay Focused Working From Home Tip #1: Create a workspace you love.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever responded to emails on your laptop in bed. SAME. It seems like a convenient workplace for little bursts of time, but if you’re like me, you can get super focused and never leave the bed, and end up working in your bed or on the couch all day. It’s not good for your body or your work long-term.
Once I noticed that, I created an office space that I loved. Not just a desk I could work on, but a place that I genuinely enjoy spending time at. This looks different for everyone. So here are my suggestions on how to figure out your dream home office:
Get rid of junk paper and organize your desk and shelves. Tip: Try to keep as little on your desk as possible. I know frames and plants look cute, but I promise, no matter the size of the desk, it will feel cluttered soon. I only keep three things permanently on my desk, my lamp, pen cup, and my laptop, and even that floats around (and out of) my house.
Take a few days to work in your freshly organized spot. As you work, jot down what you like and don’t like about your office. What’s convenient? What’s hard to do? What stresses you out?
Do some research. Look at home offices on Pinterest and read different articles about office design, taking note of what you like and what looks like could solve some of the issues you’re having right now.
For some of you, your dream office will come to you like a vision, very specific and you are instantly in love. But if you’re like me, and you’re not sure what the end goal looks like right now, that’s ok. Just start making small updates to your office. Start with playing around with the art, or getting a new bulletin board. Then invest in a new piece of furniture. And build your office slowly. Rearranging things as you go. It will eventually work itself out and you will find a solution that works for you. The goal is not to have the most Instagram worthy workspace right away, but to find the setting that you love hanging out in and allows you to work efficiently.
Some other tips for your new workplace: buy a computer and a phone charger just for that spot and never move them. You will be so thankful later.
How to Stay Focused Working From Home Tip #2: If you have things to do around the house, set a time frame to do them, and stick to it.
I always find myself in this trap. I get up for the day and start by doing my dishes, then notice all the dog hair everywhere and sweep my floors, and before I know it, it’s 2:00pm and I am reorganizing my closet and have not done any work. My housework is important too, and I work for myself so I don’t have too many time constraints, but I learned that the housework will always be there. It will never be done. Same for errands. Those responsibilities are seemingly never ending, and if you don’t set a time frame to start and stop, you will find yourself losing a lot of precious time.
As a creative business owner, I wear many hats. And not just for the business. I’m also fully in charge of my life (as well are) and I have a lot of shit I have to do everyday. And I use some pretty handy apps to keep me organized and productive.
I found that creating a housekeeping schedule helps. I start by day by doing some house chores, while drinking my coffee and waking up for the day, but I have a set time limit. If I start my housekeeping at 8:00am, I tell myself that I have to start working by 9:00am. And I force myself to stop for the day. If more chores are needed, I wait until I am done with my work for the day, or the chores wait until tomorrow. There will always be something to clean tomorrow, right?
How to Stay Focused Working From Home Tip #3: Take breaks, but stick to a schedule.
The best part about working from home is the freedom to do what you need, when you need. If you need to take a break do it! Going for a walk or making a yoga class midday can be really invigorating. But just like the home chores, try to get back on task as soon as possible. When you don’t have a set time to end the day, it can be easy to take breaks throughout the day, promising yourself you will catch up later, which you totally can! But you don’t want to work off and on until 11pm every day. Set a time that you want to end your workday, with a list of tasks or projects that you want to complete by then. And then make sure your self-care time allows for you to complete that goal.
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This post was originally posted on Barefoot Blonde. It’s also on my personal blog.