Get More Done While Working From Home
I’ll let you in on something that I’ve carried around with me for a while now--working from home isn’t all that it appears to be. All summer long, while working weddings, I’ve found myself falling into the same surface-level loop discussions with wedding guests, all who express that I must adore what I get to do, and how lucky that I must feel to be able to work from home throughout the week. Over and over I found myself agreeing, and then hearing myself say the same few lines over again, each and every weekend.
Eventually, I came home to Mark one late night after working a full wedding day and had finally found the words to expresses pieces of what I had been feeling:
On paper, it looks like we’re living this incredible dream--which don’t get me wrong--there are so many days where it does feel really really good to all be able to live, work, and co-exist in the same spaces, but in reality, there are always shadow aspects to every situation, no matter how shiny they might appear from the outside-looking-in.
I worked my butt off to be able to work from home; but, having the privilege to create my own schedule, manage my own tasks, and not having to be a part of rush hour traffic every morning and evening does come with a few drawbacks, one of those being productivity.
Being productive and effective with our time takes forethought, patience, and some work. After more than five years than waking up as my own work-from-home-boss, I wanted to break down a few of my key productivity tips for you when it comes to working from home.
1 — wake up at the same time every work day
This for me has been key. I’ve always loved mornings, which has made this step easy for me most of the time, but ever since becoming a parent, it’s even more important for me to get up and get my day started before Birdy and Mark wake up as well. If you’re like me and are more productive before lunch, then it’s even more important to wake early and harness that energy into your work first thing. Going alongside with this, I would encourage you to do something just for you before you jump into your world of work; for me, this might include reading for 30 minutes, working out, stretching, or simply getting ready for my day. Give your mind some time to simply just “be” before filling it with other people’s inquiries, comments, energies, or whatever else you have coming in on your to-do list.
2 — get dressed and ready for the day
One of the most important things for me to do in order to really feel productive, is to get myself dressed and ready fully for the day; ever since I was little, getting ready for the day was a huge part of my lifestyle growing up, so it makes sense that it’s an important step in my day now that I’m an adult. This doesn’t always have to mean getting full on ready for your day, but just changing out of your pyjamas, brushing your teeth, and washing your face will go a long way.
3 — wear headphones
Find yourself your latest brand new pair of apple headphones that are probably still wrapped up nicely in their package and plug them into your phone or computer. Especially with Mark and Birdy right downstairs from my office, headphones have become crucial in order to be productive, and I cannot believe that I only recently discovered how helpful this is. I’ve always liked to be able to listen in on life around the house, or have an ear out in case someone rings the doorbell or there’s a mail delivery, but what I didn’t realize, is that by having half of my mind existing outside of my office all day long, I was actually losing so much of my productivity.
Even if I’m editing images while watching a show, I’ll still use my headphones simply to be able to cancel out the other noise happening around the house. Another mini tip if you don’t like listening to music, or find songs with lyrics to be distracting during your work time (especially if you’re writing), I’d listen to something like this playlist to help you along. Our minds operate well while listening to certain tempo in music, so I’ve always found this more slightly upbeat beats playlist really productive.
4 — listen/feel what your body and mind are telling you
If you sit at your desk for five days straight and are just purely frustrated at how unproductive you’re feeling, then step back and find another place to work for a while. If you’re like me and you have you child and partner existing in your home during the days as well, then maybe you’re not able to work from your bed, or couch, or dining room table without being fully distracted (or tempted to clean any kitchen mess, or do a couple of chores), then leave your house and find another place to be for a while. This can be a coffee shop, a library, a restaurant, outside, a friend’s house, or anywhere else that isn’t the space that you’re currently in. Even just getting up, taking a quick 5-10 minute walk might be enough to get things moving again for you.
5 — create a schedule for yourself and stick to it
It took me over four years before I decided to give myself actual working hours; it wasn’t until Birdy was born that we realized that I should probably start implementing a start and end time to my work days in order to maintain a good family/life-work balance. The good and bad thing about giving yourself hours and sticking to them is that you now only have a certain amount of time during a day to complete whatever tasks you’ve given yourself for that day; so procrastinators beware. For me, I’ve found that implementing an 8am-3pm workday has really helped me power through what I have to get down--with minimal distractions--all the while also allowing me some true life-work separation where I can close my office door at 3pm and disconnect from everything work related.
In the past--and especially before Birdy--Mark and I could honestly sit for days straight together, both working on new projects and passions; we loved spending time together like that, but now with a third person involved, we don’t have the flexibility and freedom to do that anymore. It also used to be hard to have conversations around anything else aside from work, but now having that official schedule seperation, I’ve found that it’s given us more space to just talk openly about anything and everything, while also giving us the time to experience more things together outside of our creative pursuits--like walks with Birdy, taking her to the pool, letting her help in the kitchen, or reading books while she’s playing nearby--without feeling the passionate pull of our work during all hours of the day.
There is no formula when it comes to productivity because we’re all so unique in our situations and how our minds and bodies work; the key here is to trust intuitively what feels the best for you in regards to productivity. Often times, we try and mould ourselves or our schedules into whatever it is that we think they should be, without even stopping to ask ourselves if what we’re doing even feels right to us.