When you’re working from home, it can seem like there are a million distractions bombarding your time and challenging your focus. The allure to throw in another load of laundry, or deep clean the house can seem harmless, but small distractions really add up. Whatever your temptation may be, it doesn’t need to be hard to get the most out of your work day at home.
1. HAVE A SCHEDULE
Determine which part of the day you’re most productive, and use this insight to schedule your day. I’ve found that I’m most productive bright and early in the morning. Knowing this, I schedule as much creative work for those early hours as I can, and delegate less brain-intensive tasks to later in the day. When the morning’s enthusiasm begins to wear off around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I take the restless cues from my pup that it’s time for a walk. Having scheduled times for different tasks has helped me maintain my sanity among an endless sea of to-dos.
Working from home is all about optimizing your time. Create a balance between spending your time wisely and knowing when to take a break. Are you the person that is constantly checking just one more email before bed? Finishing one last phone call before returning to your kid’s birthday party? Don’t be that person who lets work seep into personal time. Just because your office is in your home, doesn’t mean you should let it consume you- your family will thank you!
2. STAY ORGANIZED
Running your own business isn’t just about the service or product you offer. As a business owner, you’ve got a million things that need to be done, and it’s practically impossible to do them all without being organized. I’ll admit I’m a bit obsessive with my calendars, but I absolutely swear by them. I keep 3 calendars in my office: one monthly calendar on the wall, one weekly calendar on my desk, and a daily calendar that can handle tons of scratches and scribbles. Sure, I keep a calendar on my phone but with all this technology available, I’ve found that I prefer a pen and paper. Maybe its just me, but I relish the opportunity to take a pen and cross off a completed item on my daily to do.
Not everyone is the same, and some people can’t live without the organizational apps on their phones and tablets. Being organized means something different for everyone, so find what works for you. If you find that you’ve missed a meeting because you didn’t remember what day it was on, or can’t figure out when the lunch date with a new client is, it might be time to try something new.
3. TAKE BREAKS
You might find that 5 hours have gone by and you haven't even gotten out of your desk. I'm definitely guilty of not taking enough breaks. It's something I'm working toward over time. Taking breaks not only boosts your mood and creativity, but is vital to your health. New studies have shown that sitting all day is more detrimental to our health than previously assumed. In an article by CNN, they claim that sitting will kill you:
"Prolonged sitting, meaning sitting for eight to 12 hours or more a day, increased your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 90%"
I don't know about you, but the thought of doubling the risk of developing diabetes is enough to make me want to move more! In addition to an hour walk in the afternoon, I'm trying to get up at least once an hour to move around and do a couple of stretches. For me, the freedom to get up and take a walk during any hour of the day is one of the biggest perks of working at home. Take advantage the opportunity to take small, frequent breaks to improve your focus, creativity and your health!
4. CREATE A WORK ONLY SPACE
When Dapper Fox Design was in its infancy in 2013, I didn’t separate my workspace from the rest of my home. Working at home was pretty casual, and there wasn’t the space to dedicate an entire room to an office anyway. Working in the living room office was a challenge to my focus since I was constantly trying to block out conversations, foot traffic and 'boos' whenever the opposing team scored.
When I turned my business into full time this year, I knew I needed a space solely for work purposes. Thankfully there was an extra bedroom in our new home that was collecting dust, so I threw up a fresh coat of paint and made it the official Dapper Fox Design office.
If you’re working full time from your home, create a space just for working. When you're in your home, you are surrounded by all of your favorite things. While this can lower stress levels and boost your mood, it can also be a great distraction. Having a room in your home that is dedicated exclusively to your business can help solve this problem.
Did you know? If you have a room in your home that is used exclusively for your business, that room can be tax deductible?
The IRS clarifies, “to deduct expenses for business use of the home, you must use part of your home as one of the following:
- Exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business for your trade or business.
- Exclusively and regularly as a place where you meet with or converse with your patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your trade or business; or
- A separate structure used exclusively and regularly in connection with your trade or business that is not attached to your home.
- On a regular basis for certain storage use.
- For rental use.
- As a daycare facility.”
If you have a home office that is only used for business, find out how much you’re able to claim by visiting the IRS’s website.
5. HIDE YOUR PHONE
Okay, not really- but try to keep your phone out of sight and out of mind! Don't let this potential time-sucker rob you of your creativity. The temptation to check social media outlets can be all too tempting to resist when your phone is sitting right in front of you. It's easy to see a notification pop up and end up getting lost for hours in the social media jungle. Unless you’re using social media for work purposes only, get out of the habit of checking the latest tweets or hashtags during your day.
There are so many ways to maximize productivity when operating your own business from home. Regardless of how you go about it, incorporating a few of these tips can help make your life a little easier. The benefits of running your own business from home far outweigh any challenges with a little extra planning and a few preparations!
What are your biggest challenges or distractions you face when working from home?