11 Tips to Help You Be Productive When Working From Home
Online marketing is appealing to people for two main reasons. The money that can be made and the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. A lot of IM gurus post pictures of themselves working from exotic beaches and cool places but that is all staged. Most people work from home. It might not be as glamorous as working from some 5 star resort but it sure beats working nine to five at a job you hate.
I don’t think I would be alone when I say that working from home can be very hard. There are distractions all around and it is easy to relax and not work as hard as possible. TV, video games, and the couch can easily pull you away from work and making money.
I was just talking to a mate of mine that just recently went full time in IM. He had a job he went to for over 5 years. The same company. The same office location. The same desk and chair. He actually called me up to ask me for some tips on how to separate work and home when it all happens under the same roof. When I was talking to him I took notes and decided to turn that chicken scratch into a post.
If you work from home this might help in some way to make you a bit more productive and keep you from going crazy.
1. Start Your Day At A Scheduled Time Every Single Day
The worst thing you could do is wake up late and roll out of bed whenever you feel like it. If you think you can work from home and just wake up whenever you are in for a fast wake up call. It doesn’t matter if you are working at an office, from your spare bedroom in your house, or at some exotic beach location. You still have work that needs to get done. There are only so many hours in the day. You need a strict schedule and I think you have to be even more disciplined to work from home.
Set your alarm to wake up early, grab a shower and dress up like you were going to a regular job. If you sit around in your boxers and un-showered you feel lazy. That laziness will roll over to your work. If you sit down and you are dressed the part and feel good you will do much better.
2. Make Your Home Office An Actual Office
I have a lot of mates that do IM from home. Half of them have dedicated offices in their house that were once spare bedrooms that have been fully converted. When you are in their offices you would never know you were in a home. Then the other half work from their bedroom or work in their living room with their laptops on their coffee tables. Guess what ones are more successful? The ones that have a real office setup.
I know that sometimes not everyone has the funds or a spare room to convert. My answer to them: wait. If you don’t have money to set up a proper office in your home wait until you do. Having the proper office setup will make a huge difference. If you are short on space and live in a one bedroom apartment then don’t work from home. Get a membership at a coworking space. They are not that expensive and you will be more productive.
3. Make Lists And Attack Them First
When you work from home you run the show. There are no secretaries to remind you of things and there are no other decision makers. It all falls in your lap. It’s impossible to remember everything so make lists. I keep a notepad and pen on my desk at all times. During the day I write notes on it and then at the very end of my day I take all my notes and write out a list for the next day.
The first thing I do when I start each day is grab the list and start attacking everything. I try to get through my list as quickly as possible. The worst thing you can do is to pace yourself. Some days you will have dozens of tasks and some days you will just have a few. If you pace you end up wasting time. Try to blast through them all as quickly as possible.
4. Use Just One Communication Service
If you are doing IM full time then you have other people that you work with in some way or another. Freelancers, virtual assistants, web designers, coders, link builders, writers, etc. Even if they aren’t directly employed by you, you have some sort of “team” that helps with your business. I can tell you that eliminating all communication except one will save you so much time.
People are all over the place. Emails, skype chats, Yahoo messenger, AOL messenger, etc. There are so many ways to communicate. I keep everything in one place. Slack is a great tool that allows everyone to keep the conversation in one place and you can search old messages easily. It’s come to the point that my team and I don’t even email anymore. We do everything in Slack and we are still on the free plan. You can build topics and rooms. I suggest you check it out and sign up for the free plan. Read the reviews online and you will see that everyone loves this tool.
5. Invest In Good Headphones
I work with headphones on a lot for many reasons. I find listening to music helps me get through the little annoying tasks that have to get done. Music also helps me stay focused and pumped up. They also do a great job at blocking distractions. If your house is noisy then you will love them. There are a lot of IMers that have a spouse and small kids at home and you can’t ask them to leave or be quiet.
I was never a big believer in the big headphone brands like Beats but I can tell you that a nice pair is a huge improvement over a cheap pair. The way they cancel out background noise is something anyone working from a loud home will appreciate. Buy yourself a pair this holiday season.
6. Get Out Of The Office
If you work from home you will go crazy if you spend every minute inside, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. No amount of money can keep you from going insane by feeling like you are cooped up inside for long periods of time.
Go out to lunch some days or just take a drive to get a coffee. You have to keep yourself exposed to the real world. If you don’t you will feel like you aren’t a member of society. I have seen people develop crazy social anxiety because they never left their home. Being out of the everyday craziness for a long period of time can have negative effects on your mental health.
Set up lunch outings to see friends, schedule to meet clients at lunch, or just try a new spot in your area for a quick bite to eat. The point is to just get out of the house. It’s also important that you have time to yourself, so don’t feel bad leaving the family behind when you leave.
7. Make Sure Your Family & Friends Know You Are Working
You have to put your foot down firm and make sure your family and friends respect the fact that you work from home and even though you might appear to be at home, you are indeed working. Some of my mates used to think that since I worked from home that I just sat around and played video games all day. They would stop by and I had to quickly put my foot down and explain that even though I was home I was working harder than most do at their job.
The same goes for family. If you have a whole gang at home with you they need to know that they can’t just barge in and bother you. A good option is to have a closed door policy. If you are in your home office and the door is closed they shouldn’t bother you. There are some times that you want them to be around…that’s one reason some of us like working form home in the first place. If you are waiting for files to download then why not play with the kiddos.
8. You Need To Spend Time Doing Your Favorite Hobbies
When you work from home your work time and your personal time can easily blend together if you let it. If you were working a regular job and got an email on a Sunday afternoon what would you do? You would wait until you got to the office on Monday to deal with it. When you work from home it’s too easy to just run into your office and reply. Don’t do that. You need distractions to pull you away from work during your time off. The best way to do this is to get active with your favorite hobbies.
This could be sporting events, fishing, biking, or something similar. It gets you out of the house and focused on something other than your work. It’s good to have the right kind of distractions in your life to pull you away form work and your favorite hobbies do the trick.
9. Make Your Office Comfortable
Your office is where you make your money. It should be the room in your house that you put the most effort into. You have to be comfortable so set up your office proper. It should be neat and organized as well as fit your personality.
Invest in a good desk with plenty of space so you aren’t cramped and spend money on a good chair with plenty of back support. There is a big difference between a $70 office chair and one that is $800. I’m not saying you need this right away but once you start making decent money invest in a great chair. Go test them out in person and test drive them just like you would a car. Your back will thank you later.
I think it’s also important to have really good lighting and nice wall art that compliments your personality. You will be more productive if you are in a good mood and pictures and art can make a home office really come to life and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your office look great.
10. Stop Working So Much
None of us signed up for this to work crazy hours. It might have to be done in the beginning, but once you get your systems in place and the right people on your team, there is no reason you should be glued to your computer for 20 hours a day.
I found it best to set real hours like any other business would do. If you work for a big company and 5 comes around you would be leaving. The work that wasn’t finished will just be picked up the next day. Sometimes you just have to shut down for the day and pick up where you left off the next day. If you always try to get everything done daily it will lead to long days and you get burnt out. Set hours and honor them. Your home life will be better if your family isn’t constantly asking when you will be done. Setting a schedule and sticking to it will make your life much more enjoyable.
11. Prepare For The Next Day Before You End Your Day
This is probably the tip that has really benefited myself the most and enabled me to roll out several projects and stay on top of them all. It you wake up every morning having no plan set you waste so much time trying to figure out what to do first. As I mentioned above I create a list on paper to follow, but I also prepare mentally before I shut down for the day. I read my list and run through the next day mentally in my head.
This little mental exercise puts the entire next days plan in your head and you just naturally jump into your work without wasting any time. Laziness is what kills most people as they try to transition into full time IM. Some people really think that “working form home” doesn’t involve work. I believe it’s actually harder then going to an office every day. If you work for a company there is structure. When you are on your own it is up to you to create that structure.
Working at home isn’t easy but once you have your routine down, it’s epic. Complete freedom, complete control, and complete happiness. If you want to share your own tips please post them below. I’m always interested in hearing how other IMers set up their home office situation to get more work done.