Are you one of those people who, after about thirty minutes of solid work, find themselves distracted by Facebook? Do you waste countless hours (that you could spend working) scrolling through Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, or some other social media platform? Does Netflix suck you in so easily that, before you know it, the whole day has gone by?
If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, this post is for you.
When you work from home, it’s entirely up to you to sit down and force yourself to get stuff done. There is no clocking in, there is no boss standing over you, and there are no co-workers around to keep pace with.
If you don’t do anything productive, you don’t earn anything. Soon, you’re scraping pennies together and end up going back to your old 9-5 (or worse).
Working from home requires a strong motivation and desire to succeed. It requires being driven and focused. It requires telling Facebook to leave you the hell alone for now. It’s not them, it’s you. You just need some space. All that jazz.
In order to be productive when working from home, you must make to-do lists – and then actually do what you wrote. You need to find ways to hold yourself accountable, you need to figure out the best way for to get those high-paying clients, and then you need to do it.
How do you stay productive when working from home?
The first thing you do is keep reading this blog post.
Freelance Work IS Real Work
You would be surprised (or maybe not) how many times people send me questions along the lines of:
“if you don't mind my asking, what is your degree in? Or do you have one? I'm not trying to sound prissy, it's just honest curiosity for how you got to where you are” - J
“I was thinking about getting in the whole writing thing since you seem to make some good spending money doing it. can you suggest some people to me for clients? Or places that I can get clients?” - D
“i just have to say this. . . it bugs me when military wives stay at home all day while their man is out there working his ass off and serving this country. it must be nice to not have to go to work all day. make sure you aren’t taking this for granite.” - S
Freelance writing is not a career for the lazy.
It’s not something that we do to just pass the time while the husband is away. It’s work. It means staying productive: Honing your skills, learning, reaching out to people, and marketing until you find clients. Lather, rinse, repeat.
One of the best ways to stay productive when working from home is to treat your freelancing like the business it is.
Treat Freelancing Like a Business
Get out of bed before 10 in the morning.
If you went work in an office outside of your home, you would get up early, right? Treat it just the same as going to an office – except with a super awesome boss.
For the most part, I get up when my husband gets up. He has to get to base pretty early in the morning most of the time, so I get up with him. That means, I get up at about 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m..
This may not work for everyone, but I have found that regularly getting up early makes it easier to transition from Sleep Mode to Work Mode. If I sleep in late, I feel lazy. I feel like, since I don’t technically have to get up, I can just work from my bed and be comfy all day.
That’s not productive. It doesn’t work very well. Get up. Get dressed. Get ready to go to work.
Establish a morning routine.
I like to get up, make my coffee, eat my breakfast, get dressed, get my office ready (open the blinds, light my candles, turn on the heater, etc.) and then get to work. I do it in that same order every morning, and it really gets me into the Work mode.
Get dressed each day.
It’s pretty cool that you have the option of being able to work in your pajamas all day, sure. However, being too comfortable can lead to you feeling like more like lounging around than working. Dressing up in "office clothes" can help working at home feel more like working in an office, and you will be better able to get into the productive groove.
Figure out your most productive hours, and stick to them.
I get my best work done during the day, so I tend to work between the hours of 8 am to 6 pm each day. I spend that time completing projects for my clients, writing blog posts, pitching and querying, marketing, reading press releases and industry news, and building up my skills.
Whatever time works best for you, make sure you build your schedule around that. While it’s important to take breaks throughout the day, make sure the majority of your time is spent working.
Define your goals
Make lists of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. This way, you are constantly striving to achieve something. This keeps you pushing forward in your career, much like office employees push toward that that next promotion or other coveted position.
Keep these lists on your office wall. Make sure you will see them every single day. This will keep you focused, and keep you on-track.
Keep your distractions to a minimum.
When I first started out (I started making actual income in August, 2015), I would have Netflix playing while I worked. I don’t like having it too quiet, and having Netflix going seemed more convenient than YouTube. Yes, even with the whole “Continue Playing” annoyances.
[Check out this post on how to stop interruptions when working from home]
However, I soon realized that I was getting distracted. I would recognize the dialogue of a certain episode of whatever I was watching, and then I would click to the tab to watch the scene. Then, before I knew it, I was watching episode after episode. I wasn’t getting anything done. Thanks a lot, Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Instead, I made ambient playlists on YouTube. There are several great options out there that are not too distracting, but still keep me uplifted and energized. Lyrics are a no-no. I would get really into one song, which would remind me of another song, and then that song would remind me of yet another song…and so on. I just got far too distracted.
If you are easily distracted as well, ambient music is probably the best option.
Take frequent breaks.
I know this may sound counter-productive at first, but taking frequent breaks actually makes you more productive. If you sit too long, you get tired and burned out. Your feet fall asleep (or is that just me?), your back hurts, and your muscles get sore.
- Get up.
- Walk around, go do the dishes, go check the mail, do some Yoga – whatever strikes your fancy. Make sure you are getting a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day.
- Don’t forget to eat.
- Drink lots of water.
These are just some of my tips for ways to stay productive when working from home. Everyone is different, so these may not all work for you. Still, I encourage you to try them.