While I'm still fairly new to working from home I get asked all the time how I manage it. I thought I'd share some of the tips I've figured out so far that work for me in staying productive and resisting the distractions.
1. Have a Workspace
Having a space that is dedicated to only work is so very key in developing a good routine and work habits. Even if it is just a desk in the corner, you've got to get away from where you watch TV or relax.
2. Get Dressed Everyday
I know part of the benefit of working at home is that you can stay in your PJs and nobody will know but this has proved to be very important for me. It makes me feel like a productive human to get dressed like I'm going to an office and is a good indicator to myself that I'm starting my workday.
3. Schedule Skype Chats/Coffee Dates
Going from an office setting to working by myself at home every day was a tougher transition than I expected. I didn't realize how much I needed that human interaction. Scheduling Skype chats or coffee dates with other designers has been so key in helping me to not feel alone. It is also a great opportunity to build a community and come back to my work refreshed.
4. Separate Devices
It may sound like device overkill but I try to use my iPad for fun internet surfing and my laptop for work. In the morning I drink my coffee, watch the news and surf instagram and pinterest on my iPad. When it is time to work, I shut down my iPad and get to work. Having separate dedicated devices makes it easier for me to switch gears and not fall into hours of surfing the internet, losing track of time.
5. Build a Routine and Stick to It
I touched on this with the separate devices but I have a pretty standard morning routine which has been extremely important in building a structured day. When I wake up I enjoy my coffee and inspiration time. Then I go upstairs, get dressed and sit down at my desk to work. One thing I'm still working on is dedicating a different day to a different task and trying to lump together my calls so I'm not switching gears so much.
Whitney English's Day Designer has also been helpful in mapping out the hours of my day and picking my top three priorities. I know there are a million apps and websites out there to help you manage your lists but I'm such a paper and pen girl and nothing beats physically crossing items off your list.
6. Pack a Lunch
Some days can get so crazy being a one woman show that I forget to eat or I have snack indecision and spend forever standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what I'm hungry for. It makes it so much easier if I put together a lunch for myself in the morning before I dive into my work along with a few snacks to grab throughout the day. To be honest I don't manage to do this every day but its been great for my super hectic days when I do.
7. Schedule Fun Field Trips
Being a small business owner is a 7 day a week job and I can't remember the last time I took an entire weekend off. Its important to build in time to step away from the computer or you never will. I try to schedule time during the week to check out a new store or go read one of my business books at a coffee shop. The key is to put it on your calendar and stick to it or you'll end up just working the days away. Its amazing what a few hours away from the computer can do for your energy and creativity.
In the end I think the key to successfully working from home is building a routine that works for you and sticking to it. I'd love to know what some of your best habits and tips are for being productive when working from home.