It’s been a few weeks since I went full-time as a freelance writer, and I’m definitely getting into the swing of things now! In the past couple of weeks I’ve learnt some important lessons on how to be highly productive whilst working from home. Whether you’re a student or a freelancer like me, here are my top 5 working from home productivity tips:
- Get up earlier (and go to bed earlier). If I’m writing a list on something, you can almost guarantee that sleep is going to feature in there somewhere – and for good reason! I’m a firm believer that sleep is an incredibly powerful tool in all aspects of life, and the science backs me up. For example, good quality sleep can improve your attention, concentration and reduce stress – all great for increasing productivity! I’ve recently started trying to get up between 6am and 6.30am every weekday, and when I do my day is usually much more productive. I find that getting up, making my bed and planning out my day bright and early helps me to wake up properly and feel more energetic and enthusiastic about the day ahead!
- Plan your day. Following on from this previous point, I’m an avid planner – in fact I actually have two planners on the go right now (and I use both daily!) The first thing I do after I get up is plan out my day. This generally involves bullet pointing all the tasks I want to do and noting down how long they will take in my diary, then transferring these into my Passion Planner‘s daily timetable. Figuring out how I want to manage my time really helps me to stay focused and get the most out of each day. Having said this, I don’t get too hung up on it! Plans change, things run over, motivation wanes and our days don’t always go precisely as we planned, and this is ok! I just find that setting out my intentions and having a rough plan helps get me focused.
- Work when you are most productive. Personally, I’m drastically more productive in the morning. Once it gets to 2 or 3pm my sharpness tends to start taking a divebomb. One of the great things about working from home is that you can structure your days according to how (and when) you work best. I tend to get as much done as possible before lunch, so I don’t fall behind if my concentration starts faltering in the afternoon. For example, a typical day for me would involve working solid from 8am until 11am, having a half hour break until 11.30am, working 11.30am until 12.30pm, having lunch and then doing bits and bobs sporadically in the afternoon, safe in the knowledge that the most pressing tasks are already done and dusted.
- Designate time off. One of the hardest things when you start working from home is being able to switch off. If your home is your workplace, it’s difficult to ‘clock out’ at the end of the day and leave work behind. Personally, I’ve found that structuring each week like a normal working week is useful for me; I’ll work every weekday, and then take weekends off. As a Fiverr seller, this can be a bit difficult if you have orders placed on a Friday that need doing over the weekend, so I do have to compromise a little bit here and complete any urgent orders over the weekend. Generally, though, this doesn’t take up a great deal of time and is the only work-related thing I will do. It’s also useful to have designated ‘chill time’ at the end of each day, during which no work-related messages are looked at until the next day. Again, this is difficult as response time is important when working on many freelancing platforms, so I often just send a template “Hi, I’ve clocked out for today – I’ll message you back first thing tomorrow” type message. Now, I will admit, this is a rule I’m quite POOR at sticking to!
- Do admin daily. Admin (I’m looking at YOU, emails*) can very quickly back up and leave you with an overwhelming pile of tasks to get through. This is why I always make a point to schedule admin into my daily to-dos. I like to write things like ’emails’ into my planner, because if I don’t I find it’s very easy to say “oh I’ll quickly do that at the end of the day when I’ve finished” and then just not do it. If it’s written down as an actual intention for the day, it’s easier to make sure it gets done. Dedicate some time daily to admin tasks and save yourself a lot of hassle in the future!
Looking back on these working from home tips, it’s actually unbelievable what just a few weeks of full time freelancing has taught me! In the past few months, many of us who might never have considered it before have been forced to adapt to the working from home lifestyle. What are you top tips to be your most productive self whilst working from home?
*I could honestly write a whole blog post on emails (maybe I will one day), but for now, this article sums up the art of managing emails pretty well!