Wake up. Pour coffee. Grab laptop. Plop on the couch. Adjust sweats and messy bun. Turn on Netflix. Bounce around from emails to editing to instagram. Rinse. Repeat.
Does this sound like your work from home life? Because it was totally mine for YEARS. And although I felt like I always working ALL day, I never felt productive.
I've learned a few things over the years that have helped me create a more productive WFH routine and I wish someone shared this with me years ago, so I can't not share it with you! (Be sure to read to the end, I have a special gift for you!)
First off, and most importantly, I think it’s crucial to recognize that this looks different for everyone. Your personal life, your schedule, your family dynamic, the type of business you run, the income and expenses you have, your stresses, joys, and priorities, will all play a factor in determining the best balance for you. I knew with two kids and a husband that works odd hours, that these were important to me:
- to have some sort of consistency / schedule
- to allow room for that schedule to be flexible
- to focus on bigger picture goals and get out of the tedious tasks that were sucking up my time
- to have a clear strategy and focus instead of just juggling a million things on a to do list
- to establish some sort of separation of work and personal life
Here are just a few ways I implemented habits and changes in order to work towards accomplishing these goals:
The following are a list of habits I’ve tried to implement into my daily life to set myself up before I start working. While I’m not perfect and sometimes I still edit from the couch, setting these intentions has made my daily life so much more intentional and productive.
1. Get dressed
I know this sounds silly, but if you work from home YOU KNOW. It can be really easy to stay in pajamas all day. But I’ve found getting dressed and putting some makeup on changes my attitude and my outlook for the entire day. It tells my brain that I’m officially really to start the day and I can confidently say that I am more productive and motivated while working when I’m wearing real clothes. I also am willing to SHOW UP when I feel presentable. So zoom meetings, instagram stories and reels of my face, or a coffee date, don't seem as stressful.
2. Create a space that is just for work
Maybe this is a separate office or maybe just a corner in a room, but it’s certainly not your bed. Have a designated space that’s set aside just for work so you know when you sit down in that chair, it’s time to get stuff done.
3. Don’t have work or social media be the first thing you do
Do something to serve your wellbeing in the morning, before you start serving everyone else. I find when I jump straight into work or start scrolling on instagram first thing out of bed, I’m starting my day overwhelmed, stressed, comparing, etc. When I start my day instead by cuddling with my family, going for a run, reading, meditating, stretching, or working out, I find the rest of my day to be so much more grounded, intentional and positive, ultimately making your work time more productive.
4. Create a routine as you start your work day
For me, this means making a pot of coffee, turning on my diffuser in my office, putting on some music, and evaluating my goals for the day. I do this before I jump into anything else, and it helps set the tone for the time I’ll be working.
5. Turn your phone on airplane mode
If you’re able to, turn your phone (and even your computer!) on airplane mode so you can focus without distractions.
6. Take your email off your phone
A lot of us who are self employed feel like we have to be accessible 24/7. I wondered why I felt like I never had true time off or felt like work followed me everywhere. Well, because it did! I was literally inviting work into every moment of my life by having my email on my phone. I would be out with friends, see an email pop up (maybe a complaint from a client, or a task I still had to do) and would immediately become stressed. Why let that creep into your personal time? There’s nothing I could do about the problem right then and there, except be distracted from time with friends and dwell on an email that could have been checked in the morning like any normal business.
7. Take time off
Whether that’s a day or two a week, closing your computer at a certain time, or a vacation every now and then, set aside time that is strictly for anything and everything besides work. I know it’s easier said than done, but you deserve it! It is not only important for your personal life, but it will help your creativity and prevent you from getting burnt out!
I set work hours for when I have childcare (Mon-Thurs 9-5). I try not to work outside those hours and let myself ENJOY my days off.
Work More Efficiently
These are methods I use for working that help me be more efficient and focused!
1. Batch work
Shout out to my virtual assistant, Hannah, for the next three tips. But they are something that I don’t know how I ever did without. Batch working has been such a huge game changer for me. I use a program called Asana to organize my days and each day is designated to a different category.
Each day has a few big tasks within it that are related to that category. With a multi-faceted business, separating my days has helped me have a clear focus and know what my big goals are each day instead of trying to check off a million little tasks and never feeling caught up.
2. Create a “Parking Lot” List
Have a list beside you as you're working and anything that comes up while you’re accomplishing your big tasks goes onto your list. If It doesn’t fall under the category you’re focusing on that day, it gets put under its proper category and completed on its proper day or at the end of your work day once all your big tasks are completed.
3. Have a Power Hour
Each day, at either the beginning or end of your all big tasks, set aside an hour that you focus on your tasks that need to be done every day. My Power Hour is comprised of answering all emails and posting on instagram.
4. Outsource What Isn’t Serving Your Bigger Picture
If you feel caught up in mundane tasks that are preventing you from working towards bigger goals, outsource! Whether this is work or jobs around the house, hiring help is so beneficial. I used to try to do everything myself to save money, until I realized I was losing money by not having time to work on things in my business that could really drive profit.
Some things I outsource:
- Customer service emails
- Workshop admin work
- Additional social media accounts
- Affiliate management
- Graphic Design
- Day Care
- House Cleaning
- Grocery Shopping
There are certain areas of my business that I want full control over like my own social media, editing, and emailing with clients, but there are a lot of things that I don’t need to be doing, that were getting neglected, and that other people can probably do better than me! Find what you don’t enjoy and what’s weighing you down from accomplishing your bigger goals! (Check out my course on outsourcing in Rise Photo Academy)
That friend Hannah I mentioned, that taught me pretty much everything I know about creating a productive schedule, set up a FREE training and I saved a spot for you! Join her as she shares all her amazing productivity tips and tricks HERE. I learned SO much from her, and I know you will too!
Ultimately, give yourself grace. Allow yourself to be flexible. Don’t guilt yourself for working or for relaxing. And know that you’re crushing it and we’re all just here trying to figure it out just like you.