Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe
How to maximize productivity when you work from home.

How to maximize productivity when you work from home.

Productivity can be one of the biggest challenge for those who work from home. Work-life balance is no piece of cake, even when your work and the rest of your life are geographically separate. Smudging the line between the two can make it even more difficult.

According to the Business Dictionary, productivity is "a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs."

If you just started freelancing or working from home in some other capacity, or if you aspire to do so, keep this in mind. Unless you are being paid by the hour, your livelihood now depends on how effective your work is. (Of course, even if you are paid by the hour, there is a point at which you will likely lose clients if end products are not completed within reasonable time frames).

Ironically, the biggest reason productivity is challenging when working at home is that you are working from home. If you’ve ever worked at a traditional day job, home is likely cemented in your mind as a place of refuge and rest from the stress of your job. It can be very difficult to break this mindset!

If you’re finding it difficult to stay focused and productive while working from home, try one (or all) of these things:

Set up a home office. Sometimes, it helps to create a physical space that is separate and different from other spaces to help you mentally focus and get things done. Some people are blessed with the magical ability to get tons of work done while sitting up in bed in their pajamas, but some of us are not so lucky. If you find yourself struggling often to focus and accomplish your daily tasks, try creating a separate space to work in. You don’t necessarily need another room – just create a space. Find a wall to put a desk on, and then create your ideal working environment. Make sure you have everything you might need all in one place, so you won’t have to go hunting through the house to find sticky notes or a pen! Once you’ve set up a place for yourself, work there!

Plan your day and stay aware of the time.  At the beginning of each day, plan out what you are going to do. Make sure you take care of the emergencies (what must get done), a few quick tasks you’ve been procrastinating on, and one or two longer projects that you can chip away at. Then, decide (roughly) how much time you want to spend working that day, and arrange your tasks accordingly. Find some way to keep track of the time you spend doing each part of your to-do list, so that you don’t get sucked into a vortex and spend your whole day working on one project that can’t possibly be finished in one sitting. Stay balanced! When you get to the end of your day and realize what you’ve accomplished, you’ll be that much more encouraged to get up the next day and be just as productive.

Take a few minutes to reflect. Fifteen minutes before you have to end your work day, stop doing whatever it is you were working on, and take a look at your to-do list. Recognize how much you got done, and then move what didn’t get done to tomorrow’s list. When you have done this, don’t go back to working on anything! Be done with your day. Your productivity will only suffer if you become a stay-at-home workaholic.

Find a change of scenery. Once a week (or more, if necessary), get out of your house. Find a go-to spot, be it a coffee shop, a library, a coworking space, or a park, that you know you can work well in, and go there as often as you need to. A change of scenery can help jumpstart your productivity and keep your mind engaged and ideas fresh.

Whatever you do, make sure you find a balance that enables you to be productive without overworking yourself or spending too many hours trying to get everything done. Break big projects into bite-size chunks and throw in some tasks that you know you can get done in a few minutes or an hour. Make sure you have a space to work in that provides some separation from the rest of your home and life, and once in a while, get out of the house!

Photo by The Journal Garden | Vera Bitterer on Unsplash

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