Diana Kelly Levey

How to Stay Productive When Working from Home

man working on laptop and using iphone

November 26, 2022

This guest blog post is courtesy of Ryan Howard who runs SmartParentAdvice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads.

Anyone that has ever had an office job has probably dreamed of earning a living working from home.

While working from home is a dream come true for me, it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest ones is staying productive even though you have unlimited freedom and flexibility.

If you work from home as a freelancer and wish that you could get more done, then these productivity tips are for you.

Productivity Tips for Freelance Writers and Work from Home Employees

Follow these productivity tips for working from home, particularly if you’re WFH with small children around and limited childcare.

1. Schedule working hours.

When you work in an office, you need to arrive at 9 a.m. and work until 5 p.m. When you work from home, you’re already at your workplace when you wake up and you never have to leave if you don’t want to. You’re not going to work every waking hour. But, if you don’t set a schedule, it can be really easy to let a few hours drift by in the morning while you binge a little on Netflix or catch up with the latest activity on Facebook. (Discover morning routines of freelancers and creatives that work from home.)

2. Put your phone away.

One of the keys to being productive is simply staying focused. If your phone is out, you’ll be momentarily distracted by your phone every time a text message or alert pops up. Putting your phone out of sight can go a long way toward creating a distraction-free zone.

3. Keep a to-do list.

I keep a running list of everything that needs to get done. Whenever I finish something on the list, I delete it. Then, I do a quick scan to see what the most urgent items are, pick one, and get back to work. It’s a great way to keep track of everything, and also ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

4. Let your mood dictate what you work on.

When I check my to-do list, I don’t always work on the most important or most time sensitive thing. Sometimes, I just work on the thing that I feel like working on. A big part of my work at SmartParentAdvice is writing. And when I’m in the mood, I can write 10 times faster than when I’m not. The quality is a lot better, too. When I’m not in the mood to write, I do all of the other things that still need to get done. That could be researching an article, formatting something, replying to emails or any of the other routine tasks I need to do. In most jobs, there are some parts that require intense thought and other parts that are more mundane. Do a quick mental check, and let your mood and energy level dictate the next item you tackle on your to-do list. (Here’s how to become a faster writer in 20 minutes.)

5. Put household chores aside.

When you’re working from home, it can be very tempting to do the laundry, wash dishes, take out the trash, or do any of the million household chores that need to be done. In some ways, this is actually one of the perks of working from home. I take a 90-minute break in the middle of every day working from home. Usually that equates to 10 to 15 minutes for lunch and an hour or so doing some chores around the house. However, I don’t do any chores during the time that I have blocked off for freelancing writing work. (How much time are freelancer writers spending writing?) 

6. Track your hours.

Try as I might to stick to a schedule, things don’t always go as planned. One time while dutifully typing away, I noticed that there was water leaking through my ceiling. It turned out there was a leak in the shower, and I ended up spending half the day finding someone to come out and fix it ASAP. These things happen. But, if you keep track of your hours, you can work a little extra every day until you catch up on the hours you planned to spend working that week. Here’s how many hours freelancers work each week.

7. Dress for a productive work day.

When you’re working from home, it can be really tempting to lounge around in PJs until at least noon every day. The problem is that psychologically, that can put you into a less productive state of mind. I find that I’m way more productive if I set an alarm, take a shower, and put on nicer clothes. I’m not talking about formal business attire or anything. A pair of jeans and a T-shirt is all it takes. (Learn more about freelancing FAQs like “Do you work in pajamas all day?” and more in this blog post.)

8. Set up a designated work area.

I have a desk set up in the corner of my bedroom. It’s a part of my home that gets great sunlight, and it’s where I get my best freelance writing work done. Whenever I sit at that desk, I feel like I am in working mode. (Here’s how to prevent weight gain when working from home.) While it helps my productivity, it’s also nice to be able to leave my work at that desk when I finish for the day. That way, I’m in a better state of mind when I go downstairs to spend time with my family. Try these stretches to relieve pain and stress if you work a desk job.

9. Leave the house.

When you work from home, you might find that you don’t have to leave the house for days at a time. This might be fine for some people. For me, it gets kind of depressing. I like to get out of the house at least once a day. Sometimes that means a trip to the gym in the morning before I start my work day. Other times it means working from Starbucks for a couple of hours. Going for a walk is one way to come up with new article ideas.

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