I spent more than nine straight years working a full-time job outside of the home, leaving my house around 6:30 in the morning to sit in Atlanta traffic for over an hour, then sit at my desk from 8am – 4:30pm, then sit in traffic again for another hour and half…five days a week.
It was exhausting. Especially because, like my dad, I have an entrepreneurial mindset. Over the years I tried everything I could to start a business that would allow me to work from home and nothing seemed to stick. I realized that I was forcing it, and what I was truly passionate about was what would become my business – blogging and email marketing.
Back in October 2015, I finally got the opportunity to leave my full-time job to work from home three days each week. Hallelujah!!! (I’m working super hard to make that 5 days/week but I’m not quite there yet.)
Going from working outside of the home to working at home took some major adjustment, but I’ve finally fallen into a happy and productive rhythm so I thought I’d share a bit about how I do all I do with you! No two days are alike, but I’ve learned a few things that help me work from home and be productive at the same time.
Those long drives still have to happen on Mondays and Thursdays until I can step away from my job completely, but the other three days are amazing!
6 TIPS FOR WORK-AT-HOME PRODUCTIVITY
I truly love working from home, but I know it’s not for everyone. It takes discipline and structure if you really want to get any actual work done, so if you’re thinking of making the switch or you’re still trying to get in your own groove, maybe these tips will help.
#1 – GET UP EARLY
I know, I know… I hear you groaning. I’m not a morning person either, which is why I rely so heavily on sweet tea. However, if I allow myself to sleep in, it sets the tone for a lazy day and I end up feeling rushed to get my tasks done and I’m not nearly as productive or alert.
I set my alarm for 6:00am on the days I work from home. (I get up at 5am on the days I have to go into the office. Bleh.) I usually lay in bed for about 15 minutes after my alarm has gone off, pet my dogs (who are breathing in my face by this point anyway), and take a few minutes to pray. This gives my brain a chance to wake up and I feel more refreshed when I do actually climb out of bed.
#2 – DRESS FOR SUCCESS
I use the phrase “Dress for success” very loosely, but essentially what I mean is, GET DRESSED. Every single day, I take the time to put on real clothes, light make-up, fix my hair, and brush my teeth. Again, it’s about setting the tone for the day. After working in an office environment for more than 9 years, my brain knows that it’s time to go to work when I shower and get dressed in the morning.
I have had rare days where I don’t feel well or I just want to be lazy, so I’ll work from the couch in my PJs all day, but I don’t get nearly the same amount of work done as I do on days I dress for work.
#3 – EAT BREAKFAST
My breakfast is almost always a Nature Valley bar (crunchy with peanut butter) and a large mason jar filled with sweet tea. I follow that up with a banana a couple hours later.
You know those Snickers commercials that say, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”? Yea well, it’s true. You’re not your hard-working self when you’re hungry, so eat something.
#4 – HAVE QUIET TIME
My quiet time is part of my breakfast time. I munch on my Nature Valley bar while reading my daily Bible study. Some days I’ll spend about 10-15 minutes reading my Bible, other days it can be closer to 30-45 minutes, but I just let the Lord lead me.
Whether you take time to do Bible study, meditate, or just quietly journal, I highly recommend taking some time in the morning, before work begins, to be quiet. It really helps to calm your mind from all the upcoming to-do’s and focus on what’s really important for the day.
#5 – WORK FROM A LIST
Oh boy do I love my lists! I’ve recently started using the Whitney English Day Designer* that has one page per day, and I seriously love it. I used Erin Condren Life Planners for four years and still love them, but now that I have client appointments and time-specific tasks to keep up with, I needed the page-per-day layout that Erin Condren doesn’t offer.
At the end of each work day, I make my to-do list for the next day. I keep lists for talking points for podcast recordings, webinars, and client consultations. I also keeps lists for blog tasks that need to be handled, like scheduling social media, updating images or links, etc.
My brain goes 100mph every single day, so working with a list ensures I get done whatever needs to get done that day, and everything else can wait.
#6 – DEDICATED WORK SPACE
I can’t tell you how important this is to my success! When I was doing the side-hustle thing, I set up a little desk along a bare wall between our kitchen and living room, with the idea that I’d still be in the same general vicinity of my family while busting out some blog and biz work in the evenings.
Well guess what? TV and family chatter are distracting, so when it came time to get serious, I set up an official office that is a separate room of the house that is mine all mine. My family knows that I’m “at work” when I’m in there, and it helps me stay focused on my work. I love having a place to set up my office supplies; I’m able to leave my lighting kit, web cam and mic set up all the time; and I can decorate it with inspirational quotes and artwork that makes me happy! (I like sharing glimpses of my office on Instagram, so follow me @sweetteallc)
If you don’t have a room that you can make your own, try to carve out a private section of the guest bedroom so you can have some privacy. The dining room is great, but you use that space for other things, so the key is to find somewhere that allows you to leave your space set up for work all the time.
BONUS TIP: HAVE SET OFFICE HOURS
This is a necessity for me. I’ve shared my story plenty of times about how I burned out and walked away for six months back in early 2014, and when I came back to blogging later that year, I came back with ground rules.
One of those ground rules was to always keep my faith and my family as my first two priorities, with everything else falling in line after that. One way of maintaining those priorities is setting dedicated office hours. I typically work from around 7:30am until 6:30pm on the days I’m working at home. Because my office is in a separate room of the house, I turn off my computer, prepare my to-do list for the next day, turn off the light, and call it a day.
Being intentional with my time and how I start my day helps me be more productive and keep my sanity in tact. Running a solo biz is hard work, and as the business owner, you wear all the hats, so find structure that works for you and stick with it! Good luck!
YOUR TURN: How do you find success working from home? Any other tips you want me to share? I love behind-the-scenes!
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