There is going to be a big shift in the world. Life as we know it is going to be very different from life pre-virus.
Even if the pandemic clears up, the world will be taking extra precautions to stay healthy and safe.
And I think that one of those shifts will be more people working from home when they can.
Staying focused When Working from Home
Dave and I have been splitting our time between traveling and working from home for several years. At first, it was difficult to remain focused.
When we were trying to work at home, many things were distractions and we’d end up wasting a lot of valuable time.
But after a while, we turned our home office routine into as much of an organized machine as any other working environment.
If you are someone who is trying to work from home during self-isolation or you see your future as someone who will be working from home, we have some tips for you!
Starting from our morning routine to the end of the day, here you go!
Make your Bed
The first thing I do in the morning is to make my bed. It gives me a sense of organization and well-being.
I know that the only people who are going to see my tidy bedroom is Dave and myself, but making my bed, sets the tone for the day.
When one thing in my life is organized, the rest follows suit.
I have seen a lot of self-employed people joke about wearing their pajamas all day when working from home, but it is very important for us to treat our office like a business that is going to see clients.
We are more efficient when we dress for success.
That’s not say that Dave puts on a suit and tie and I’m not spending hours on my hair and make-up, but we do put ourselves together.
But we do change out of our sweat pants or pajamas and put on clothes that we’d wear out in public.
We keep it comfortable and practical, but smart and professional.
Besides, we are often taking video meetings with clients or doing interviews and we want to look our best.
The more I treat my business as a serious business, the more successful I am.
Create a Comfortable Workspace
You may not have the space to set aside a home office, but even if you have a corner in your living room or kitchen it is important to make it a separate space that is your spot to be creative, productive and organized.
It is tempting to work on the laptop in front of the TV, but we avoid that temptation and stay in our home office during working hours. (except for breaks, meals, and meetings)
We find that when we have our desk set up with everything we need on hand, we can be very productive.
Work Regular Hours
We work set hours from home.
Dave and I often joke that we could work at any time of the day. If we wanted to work at midnight we could.
But, we tend to work regular office hours when we are home and that has worked well for us.
You don’t have to work at the same time of day as us, but I think it is important to have a consistent work schedule.
Be it starting in the afternoon and working until evening, or if you are a night owl, maybe late nights work better for you.
I think having a set schedule ensures that time is spent wisely.
We find that starting a bit earlier in the morning helps us answer emails and organize before the new emails and workload comes in.
We usually wake up and start our day with coffee at 6:30 to 7:30 am as we talk about what we want to get done during the day.
After a relaxing morning, we get to work and have a clear idea of what our goals are for each day.
We never sit down at our computer and wing it. We always have a clear plan for our tasks and what we want to accomplish each week.
Stay off of Social
Social media can be the biggest time-suck on earth. We avoid aimlessly browsing Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
We go on social in the morning to share our social media posts and to respond to comments from the following day, but we don’t spend a lot of time on any social sites during business hours.
It is easy to get distracted, and Social Media really can detract from productivity.
If you have a mastermind group that you are a part of, that’s different.
You can check in to ask questions and see what people are up to, but simply spending time browsing friends and news feeds will not help your business.
Create a Support System
As I said above, a mastermind group is very different than gossiping and joking around on social media.
Creating a support system online can really help your business.
As travel bloggers, our community was an early adopter of creating support groups since we were all scattered around the world.
It is important to have people to bounce ideas off of and to ask advice in your industry.
When you go to work in an office, there are people there to talk with, brainstorm, and to help to solve problems.
If you isolate yourself too much at home without talking to peers and mentors, you can fall behind and become stuck.
Start a group of like-minded people and use it as a mastermind discussion and a safe place to discuss fears, frustrations, and successes.
When working from home, it is easy to push through to get all the work done.
We used to be guilty of this. We’d stare at our computers writing and editing until our eyes went blurry, only to look up and find that we haven’t moved in hours.
We may have gotten a lot of work done at that moment, but it ruined the next day as we were mentally exhausted.
This also led to muscle aches, headaches, and I believe long hours hunched over my computer contributed to my neck and shoulder arthritis.
As they say, sitting is the new smoking, so we now make sure to work in short productive spurts and then we do some stretching, go for a walk or just take a mental break every hour.
When working from home, the first thing that goes out of the window is health.
It’s easy to work all day in your home office or space without moving away from your computer.
And then when finished work, it’s easy to simply head to the kitchen for a snack, or turn on the TV and hang out on the couch.
Dave and I were guilty of this in our early self employed days. We each gained 20 pounds in our first few years of blogging because we sat around so much when not traveling.
But now we go for a good hike each day after work.
We also stop to stretch throughout the day and we do some core exercises at night to keep our bodies limber and strong.
We make a point of using Google calendar a lot to set reminders for meetings, important events, and courses.
There are several apps to use for organization like Asana, Calendly, Toggl or TimeTimer.
You decide what works for you to help keep an organized schedule. We couldn’t function without our calendar.
Reminders come up daily to let us know what meetings we scheduled a month ago, or what projects are coming due.
Know When to Quit
It’s easy to work unlimited hours when you are on a roll. In the early days of our business, we’d work 12- 14 hours when not traveling.
We’d stay glued to our computer late into the night until an article was completely written, the video was completed, or an album of photos was edited.
This feels like you are being productive, but we quickly found out that we burnt out fast.
We weren’t producing our best work, because we were always exhausted.
Plus, after a long day staring at the screen, we could barely focus the next day.
We’d have one amazing day working long hours, and then we spent the next several days recovering from the marathon tasks we put on our brains and bodies from sitting for so long.
When the end of the day comes, we step away from our computers and move on to life.
The rest of the evening is about connecting with each other, connecting with other people,
Don’t be too Hard on Yourself
If you are new to working from home, give yourself a break. You aren’t going to get it perfect right away.
It took Dave and I a few years to figure out how to balance work and life when we started working for ourselves.
In the beginning, there will be distractions, you will work too hard, and something will go wrong.
But don’t beat yourself up about it. There’s always a new day to fix mistakes.
I used to beat myself up if I wasn’t perfect with each day. (which was often) I ended up spending more time worrying about what I didn’t accomplish rather than focusing on what I did.
Working from home can be amazing.
Just make sure to keep a support system going and your social network strong (it’s easy to become isolated when working by yourself) and be sure to take care of yourself.
In today’s world, health and well being has never been more important.
Do you work from home? What is your daily routine to stay focused and efficient?
3 thoughts on “How to Stay Productive When Working Remotely”
A motivating post that was refreshing to read. While I do work part time as an essential delivery driver, I hope to be able to properly work at home on my blog full time (and travel again when the time is right).
I’ve never owned a TV in over a decade, I feel this is partly the reason I’m able to be more productive at home, and it’s opened my eyes to the world (many people in the UK are glued to their TVs in a state of fear of anything foreign).
Still trying to set regular work hours, and a daily checklist helps me feel productive when I’ve ticked off important stuff. Thanks for sharing!
I am glad that I can work from home and not experience the difficulties that others have encountered … . These are crazy, unprecedented times that we live in. Stay safe out there, and stay home if you can.
Hi Deb & Debbie,
I am a regular reader of your blog & in self quarantine for a month now. It is great to read about your routine and how you guyz are coping up.
We have been following a similar routine here in Norway. Working for fixed hours, stretching in between and going for walks in woods. We have set a routine now.
I really liked the way you described ‘ how u used to beat yourself up if you were not perfect’ I can totally relate with it. But now I am going easy on myself, taking each day as it comes.
Wish this is over soon and I get to travel and explore again.
Take care u guyz..!