The key to getting things done when working at home is to train your brain to really focus on work. If you have kids, you also need to find a way to have relative quiet as you work (earbuds are great). Try these 5 tips for staying productive:
1. Mark Your Territory
Cool and professional surroundings can help you stay focused. If you can turn a spare bedroom into a home office, I highly recommend it. Get a work desk, office chair and other décor with “work-at-home pro” vibes. Make sure this area has a door. You’ll need it — trust me.
Don’t work in rooms that feel too informal, such as on the living room couch. Don’t you dare work in your oh-so-cozy bed! If you have to work in your bedroom because of space, buy a table that’s exclusively for work. Also, turn on the lights!
2. Choose “Office Hours”
Even if you have the freedom to work whenever you want, set your own schedule. This helps your body adjust to a regular routine, which can keep you alert. Resist the temptation to wake up “whenever.” Respect your schedule and you’ll get a LOT more done.
3. Take SHORT Breaks
It’s OK to take breaks if your brain feels fried. They help you stay productive, happy and sane. However, breaks also present risks to productivity. If you’re like me, short breaks quickly turn into long breaks and before you know it the entire afternoon is gone. Avoid personal time-wasters:
There are better ways to press the reset button for your brain. Grab some coffee, munch on granola, water your flowers or take your dog for a short walk.
4. Spend Time With Your Kids … Later
You have to be able to concentrate to get work done. The problem is that it’s easy to feel guilty when your little girl is crying because her teddy bear’s head came off and you CAN’T HELP HER because you’re finishing a report with a deadline in 20 MINUTES! You have to accept that ignoring your child for a few hours doesn’t make you bad parent.
Set aside time after work to play with your kids. Eventually (definitely not overnight) they learn the difference between “Mommy is working” time and “work’s over” time.
5. Don’t Start and Stop
Once your brain is in high gear, maximize the amount of things you get done in that valuable window. Constant interruptions are like hitting the brakes on the highway. Of course, as a mom you may have to juggle errands and chores. What can you do?
Try to group tasks together. If you need to get groceries, take care of everything else you have to do outside during the same morning. That way, in the afternoon, you’re free to focus on work. Do the same with housework and laundry.
You CAN stay productive at home. You just need to know what to push yourself towards. Many successful work-at-home moms recommend taking a few minutes to organize yourself in the morning. Set specific goals, do your best and don’t give up!