In 2020, more people than ever are working from home.  Whether they are starting businesses due to losing their jobs due to COVID-19 or they are forced from their office to their home, they are needing to adjust to working from home. I have been running my online business from home for the last 7 years.  During that time I have learned, often the hard way, about what works best for me to be more productive.

When I first started my online business, I had a baby who was 12 months old and a toddler who was 4.  Fun times to be starting my business!  Like so many businesses that are run from home, I used to work from our dining table.  It was central, I could put the kids in front of the TV when I had deadlines (eek) and still keep an eye on them and be available to them when I needed to be.  The problem with that was, that as I got busier, I was actually less productive. And that wasn’t a good outcome for anyone.

On the flip side, as I was getting busier, the kids were getting older which meant they were at school and kinder so working should be getting easier – at least that’s what I thought.  But I was still on the dining table. And from the dining table I could see that the breakfast dishes were still on the bench, the washing needed hanging and dinner needed be made.  The kids may not have been home but there were just as many distractions – just different ones.

Changes needed to be made – and quickly! Here are the 3 things that have worked for me in increasing my productivity.

Create a Space Dedicated to Work

The first step I took was to set up my home office.  I needed to create a space that was just for work.  So our junk room, I mean spare room was cleared out and I set up my office with a proper desk, chair, noticeboard and screens.  All of my stationery (I love stationery!) is organised, a picture of my family is up and I feel like I am in a real office.  I was really surprised at my mindset shift by having my own dedicated workspace. And the best part is that I can shut the door to rest of the house and not be distracted by breakfast dishes!

Schedule Regular Work Hours

Secondly, I scheduled regular work hours.  When I say “regular” initially they weren’t the same hours every day.  Having young kids just didn’t allow for that.  But what I was able to do was set hours according to their school and kinder schedules. This also allowed me to schedule regular breaks.  Breaks are just as important as work hours as they ensure that you are able to refuel, regroup, exercise – a quick walk or squats in the lounge room, or sneak a quick trip to your local coffee shop to grab that all-important caffeine fix!  I found that once I had set these boundaries for myself, I could then inform everyone else of them and therefore was more productive as there was much less interruption. And at the end of the workday, I shut the office door and know that work is over until tomorrow.

Plan Your Work Day

The third change I made was to plan my workday.  There are so many tools that can assist you to do this but a daily calendar or schedule is often enough.  I look at what is needed to be done for the day and then prioritise in order of urgency. However, the other thing I always do (unless something simply can’t wait and is time-sensitive) is doing the tasks that I find most challenging first.  I like to get those out of the way when my mind is fresh first thing in the morning. I then can go about the rest of the day doing tasks that I can do more easily.  Some people however like to work the other way – doing what they love first as it sets the tone for the rest of their day.

When it comes down to it, you really need to do it the way that’s best for you and for your business and your circumstances.  The biggest lesson I have learnt along the way is to be flexible within these steps. But at least if you have the systems set in place you have a framework to reference and take you back if your circumstances take you off track.

I would love to hear what steps you have put in place to make working from home more productive for you.