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After the incredible response I received on my first two work from home posts ‘My career journey so far‘ and ‘A week in the life of a freelance writer‘, I wanted to make my experience of working from home into a bit of a mini series.
I know a lot of people who read my blog are also freelancers or wanting to move towards a career where they can work from home, so if that’s where you’re currently at, this post will be ideal for you!
I’m by no means an industry expert when it comes to working from home, freelancing and making money as a travel blogger, but I’ve been doing it for a little while now and I thought it was about time I imparted some wisdom on to you guys!
Here are my 11 top tips on how to effectively work from home!
11 tips on how to effectively work from home to maximise productivity!
I plan on doing a whole other post about how I got into freelancing and the tools I use, but one of the most important things to have when building a freelance career, whether it’s writing, in graphic design or something else entirely is a suitable online presence.
If you’re looking to make the transition into self-employment and you’re just starting out on your first website, or you already work from home and just wanted a few tips how to become more efficient and productive, then I really hope you enjoy this post!
1. Have a dedicated ‘work’ area
My first top tip when it comes to establishing an effective work from home routine is that you need to have a dedicated work area. It might be your home office desk, your dining room table or you might even work effectively from the comforts of your bed or sofa. Wherever works best for you, make sure you make the most out of it.
I typically spend my day working from Matt’s desk; he has two huge monitors (one even has a curved screen!) and these are incredibly beneficial to my work from home routine.
If Matt’s at home, I’ll usually work from the dining table or sofa on my laptop, but I usually find that the table works best for me as it somewhat resembles a traditional desk setup. It doesn’t really matter where in your house you choose to work from, as long as it feels right and works for you.
2. Minimise distractions as much as possible
While I wouldn’t class myself as a procrastinator, I can get distracted relatively easily; especially when it comes to flitting between different pieces of work.
In order to combat this, you need to try and minimise all distractions as much as possible when you work from home. This might include hiding your phone in another room so you’re not tempted to check it constantly, bring enough snacks and drinks to your desk or work space so you don’t have to keep getting up and keeping the tabs open on your laptop or computer to a minimum.
3. Make an effort to ‘get ready’
I have to admit; this piece of advice doesn’t really come from my personal experience of working from home as if I’m not planning to leave the house at all, I very rarely get properly ready.
I always, always make sure I brush my teeth, wash my face and brush my hair, but I very rarely put on a full face of makeup if I know I’m staying inside for the whole day.
I usually also work from home in my pyjamas or at least comfy joggers or leggings as I feel that this works best for me and my productivity. I know a couple of freelancers however, who literally need to get dressed and do their makeup, otherwise they feel like they could just lounge on the sofa all day.
There’s no real right or wrong when it comes to defining what getting ready means to you when you work from home, as long as it suits you and your working style.
4. Take dedicated breaks (but not for too long)
When it comes to working for yourself from home, it can be hard to define how many breaks you should take and for how long throughout the day. Again, this will differ between each and every freelancer but at the very least, you need to ensure that you dedicate official time to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As I mentioned in my ‘A week in the life of a freelance writer‘ post, I usually eat most meals at my desk, but I always ensure that I take a little break from work and spend time browsing Instagram or reading through Bloglovin‘ instead.
5. Turn off the notifications on all your social media
This is probably one of the best tips I use in order to stay productive when working from home; it’s also something I do all the time, not just when I’m actually working.
Even if you keep your phone on your desk next to you, if you’re notifications are turned off for everything, you’re not going to be as tempted to pick it up. It sort of makes it seem like no one’s trying to get hold of you or liking or commenting on your stuff; so you don’t feel the urge to pick your phone up and check every time someone likes your Tweet.
It also means that later in the evening, you can dedicate some proper time to liking and replying to comments on Instagram, rather than just throwing the odd like around every couple of minutes when you receive a new notification.
6. Make a to-do list and stick to it
It’s such a cliche thing to say ‘make a to-do list’ but it really is essential when you’re looking for top tips on how to stay productive when you work from home.
If you read my ‘A week in the life of a freelance writer‘ post, you may have noticed that I have several notebooks on the go all at once. I have one for my freelancing work, one for blog post ideas (as well as plenty of notes on my phone) and I also have a mini notebook that I use to track my progress and growth across all my platforms.
Whatever method you use to keep track of your notes and the things you need to do, make sure you create a dedicated to-do list either every day or once a week.
Not only will it help you to stay focused and accountable for the work you need to do, but it’ll also feel great when you’ve ticked everything off at the end of the day/week!
7. Find a working schedule that works for you
I talked about this quite a lot in my last post about being a freelance writer but when you work from home, it’s so important to find a working schedule that works solely for you.
If you’re an early bird and find that you get your best work done before 11am, then make sure you get up nice and early and dedicate a few solid hours to smashing out loads of work.
On the other hand, if you’re more of a night owl and you feel most creative after 8pm, then don’t be afraid to work into the early hours of the morning. As long as it works for you and you know you can produce your best work, it doesn’t matter what time you sit down to work. The 9-5 life isn’t for everyone and I’d bet you a lot of money you’re no longer in your old office role because you wanted to be able to work by your own standards…
8. Limit your access to your emails
This is somewhat similar to the point above about turning the notifications off on your phone, but limiting your access to your emails throughout the day could do wonders for your productivity.
I’m notoriously bad for checking my emails as soon as one pops up in my inbox and if it’s something I’m interested in, I’ll always reply straight away. While at first I thought I was just showing my enthusiasm and dedication to my work, I soon realised that I was wasting valuable time that I could have been working on an important project instead.
9. Try and go outside at least once a day
Despite (obviously) being a huge fan of travelling and being outside exploring, I usually find that when I’m working from home, I can go a couple of days without even leaving the apartment. Obviously, this isn’t very healthy and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but sometimes I just find myself so lost in my work that I forget to even get some fresh air.
However, the invaluable importance of taking myself out for a walk to clear my head isn’t lost on me and whenever I do head outside, I always feel a million times healthier and more motivated for it.
My advice to you if you’re working from home, is to try and get out at least once a day. Even if it’s literally to stand in your back garden and have a cup of tea or just a short walk round the block, never underestimate how amazing some fresh air can be for your productivity levels.
10. Eat and drink as healthy as possible
Following on from the point above about getting as much fresh air as possible when you work from home, you should also ensure that you’re eating and drinking as healthy as possible.
When you’re working from home, whether it’s at a desk in the spare bedroom or on your dining room table, you’re never too far away from the alluring kitchen cupboards and fridge.
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to suggest removing all temptations from your house altogether, but when you are sat typing away and craving something sweet and delicious, try and resist the urge.
Being sat at a desk all day probably isn’t the healthiest thing to be doing anyway and added sugar and unhealthy snacks will actually be detrimental to your productivity levels despite the initial sugar rush.
If you are quite a snacky person, try and avoid eating unhealthy things by cooking and eating more substantial meals, and if you know you’re going to snack anyway, choose things that are better for you and will help you to concentrate more.
11. Remember it’s OK to take a day off
One thing I really struggle with now that I work from home, is making sure I take dedicated days off work. Since I became fully self-employed at the end of December, I don’t think I’ve taken a whole entire day off to just do absolutely nothing.
Of course, I’ve been to Oslo, Reykjavik and Malaga during that time, but even while I was there, I was still working on my collaboration with Attraction Tix, making sure I had plenty of pictures and constantly thinking of new content ideas.
And you know what? I don’t mind one little bit. Whenever I’m working, whether that’s from home, from a coffee shop or in the middle of the Golden Circle Tour in Iceland, I always, always love what I’m doing.
However, I do believe that it’s important to take some proper time off every now and again as the lines between working from home and just chilling at home can often become blurred.
If you’re not a travel blogger and don’t have to spend time working while you’re on holiday, then make sure you dedicate some proper time to just chilling and relaxing while you’re away. If you haven’t got any holidays or weekend breaks planned, then just take one or two FULL days off a week to do nothing but read, enjoy a pamper session, go for a walk and binge watch the cheesiest chick flicks on Netflix.
Becoming self-employed and having the luxury to work on my business from home is something that I adore and am truly grateful for every single day. While some days are obviously harder than others, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t thank my lucky stars that I’m able to be in this position.
What are your top tips for being productive and efficient when working from home? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @imjustagirl_16.