Maybe you’re a seasoned entrepreneur that’s mastered the art of working from home, and all this self-isolation hasn’t really changed much for you. But then again… maybe you’re not. Maybe this being-productive-from-home is all new to you and you’re struggling to get into a steady rhythm of work.
A big problem you might be facing is the struggle between getting the important stuff done and just lazing out on the couch with your laptop, fooling yourself into thinking you’re actually being productive.
Working from your couch or your bed can be fun and relaxing, but let’s be real… it’s not the way to check off your to do list at an acceptable pace.
In order to get more done and get in the zone for major productivity, you’ve GOT to get an office space set up for yourself – even if it’s just a small corner of your home.
So, what makes a workspace effective? That’s exactly what we’re about to take a look at. Follow these simple steps to set up an effective workspace that’s still cozy and will invite you in each morning to get the important projects done so that you CAN relax, later on.
Pick a Low-Traffic Area of Your Home
Have kids, a spouse or pets running around in the house with you while you’re self-isolating? No problem, you just need to know how to work around the situation.
If you don’t have a separate room to set up as an office (as most of us don’t), then you’ll need to think about where your fellow homebodies hang out most. If the living room is occupied most of the day, definitely avoid setting up your workspace there.
Pick a corner of one room in the house so that we can make this transformation happen. Whether that is a section of your bedroom, dining room, family room or den, basement or even screened porch (if you’re in a warm climate), anything will work as long as you feel comfortable sitting there for a few hours at a time.
Limit Distractions, Excuses and Visible Household Responsibilities
Are the dog’s food bowls next to you? Is there a litter box in the room? A pile of laundry next to you? How about a TV or a game system calling your name?
There’s no stronger productivity killers than visible distractions. If you have daily responsibilities sitting right under your nose, it will be hard to get out of the chillin’-at-home mindset and into work-from-home mode.
Of course, first make sure to take care of any dependents (including pets), but then remove the food dishes and other items that will remind you you’re not alone in the house. Put them in a different room if you can, and if not, move them to the other end of the room so you’re not looking at them all day long.
TVs, other forms of entertainment and hobbies like guitars should also be out of sight. (Easy fix: drape a sheet over the TV during work hours.)
This goes for laundry or dishes that need to be done as well. If you swivel in your chair and see something you’d rather be doing, it’ll kill the vibe. Same thing goes for electronic devices like phones, tablets and e-readers.
There will be time for those, just not right now.
Give Your Home Office Nook an Inviting Atmosphere
You’ll need the essentials – for most, this includes a small desk and an office chair. Make sure to create an ergonomic set up to save your health, by sitting up straight with your feet on the floor, your elbows at 90 degrees and your eyes looking straight ahead at the computer screen (so you don’t wrench your neck looking downwards for long periods of time).
Aside from the essentials, get creative!
Think of this corner of the room as your home office nook. That’s similar to a reading nook, which is usually cozy and comfortable, allowing you to get lost in the novel you’re exploring.
The same concept goes for your home office nook. Make it a comfortable place to sit (or stand), dream up your future and work towards your goals.
Only you know what motivates you, so decorate this nook with visuals you can look at to spark creativity and motivation throughout the work day. Maybe that involves hanging inspirational posters, creating a vision board or writing down quotes or thoughts that excite you and pinning them to the wall next to your desk. You could even add a plant or a piece of colorful artwork to make the space more inviting.
I personally have a bunch of motivational quotes and goals pinned to the wall next to me, so that if I’m feeling sluggish or losing momentum, I can glance over and remind myself why I want to keep going.
Set a Schedule that You Can Stick To
There’s nothing more discouraging than creating a list of goals for the day or the week, and not being able to meet them. Set realistic goals you’d like to accomplish for the week, break them down into achievable daily projects and then measure out time blocks for each task.
For example, block out 2 hours in the morning for urgent tasks, followed by 2 hours of client projects or content writing.
The afternoons could be used for more creative tasks, like product design and creation, along with phone meetings, webinars and video chats. Keep in mind the time your brain works best and plan a schedule that fits you.
For me, I like to get the most important stuff done in the morning and leave the afternoons for creativity, but that might not work best for you.
Play around with your schedule until you find a routine that allows maximum productivity.
Make Time Specifically for Social Media and Emails
Set aside time just for social media and replying to emails so that you don’t waste precious time on these things every 15 mins all day long.
The biggest distraction for me is scrolling through Instagram, so I’m trying to work on blocking out time specifically to check my feed, post my own content and tips, and reply to emails. If I don’t do this, I find myself on my phone a great deal of the day.
If you’re like me, you need a strategy in place to prevent these time wasters from consuming your days. Your followers and your emails can wait.
Allow Frequent Breaks and Meal Time
Just like if you were to commute to work every day, you need breaks! You can’t work nonstop all day without feeling burnout.
Without time to take a breath, have a snack or a meal and walk around for a few minutes, you’ll get slower and slower as the day goes on and nothing will get done even if you’re still at your desk.
There are plenty of different ways to set up your break time. Some people prefer a 15 minute break in the morning and the afternoon, with a one hour lunch. Others say they are more productive if they work in intervals – like 50 minutes on and 10 minutes off during every hour.
All I know for sure is, you need breaks and you need to stretch.
So allow yourself time to get up, move your body and get some nourishment. Drink water and have healthy food to keep your brain alert and focused.
Take Your Days Seriously
Does mom want to give you a call to see how you’re doing? Is your best friend asking you to FaceTime?
Not all of us have to work while staying at home, and that can be a problem for those of us who do.
Make it known that you are busy during work hours and don’t feel bad for saying “no” to anyone. You are your first priority and your projects need to get done.
Turn your phone off if you have to, create an autoresponder for your email, do what needs to be done to get rid of distractions throughout the day.
Tell your friends and family you are still working and cannot answer until lunch or until you’re off for the evening.
Nothing is urgent enough that it needs to interrupt your work. And if it’s an emergency, they will let you know.
Stay Connected to Other Like-Minded People
Working from home can get super lonely. Trust me, I know, because I’m there all the time. You’ve got to nurture connections and relationships with people that work in the same field as you, have the same goals and a similar mindset.
Just because you’re physically isolating yourself from co-workers, other entrepreneurs or whatever your individual case is, it doesn’t mean you should mentally isolate yourself as well.
As human beings, we need connection.
Start a group chat or slide into the DMs of a few people you admire in your field. Listen to podcasts and watch Facebook or Instagram Lives of those whose footsteps you wish to follow.
However you do it, discuss your work with someone else (or a few people) and it will keep the motivation flowing and keep the spark in your mind alive. Bounce ideas off each other and talk about new advancements or strategies in your industry.
Stay excited about your work and it will be a whole lot easier to maintain productivity.
Follow these steps to set up a fun workspace, eliminate distractions and stay focused to reach your goals – even while at home alone with Netflix calling or in a lively household full of people.
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