One of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur is the ability to work from home. During tax season I’m stuck in an office, but for the other nine months of the year I’m free to work from home most of the week. This means I can wake up later, wear what I want, avoid traffic and set my own schedule.
The power of being your own boss comes with amazing perks. But as Spider Mans Uncle told him, “with great power comes great responsibility”. If you aren’t careful, your “working” from home will turn into sleeping in and watching three straight hours of Sportcenter in your boxers.
Over the last four months I’ve come up with three strategies that help me stay productive while still enjoying the freedoms of working from home.
1. Create a schedule
The ability to set your own schedule is often listed as the best perceived benefit of owning your own business. And there is no doubt that being able to set your own hours is an awesome perk of entrepreneurship. But make no mistake, no matter who is setting the hours, the hours still need to be put in.
I have found that I am much more productive if I create a daily schedule for myself. I determine ahead of time when I will wake up, when I will eat lunch and when I will stop working. I also set a rough schedule of what projects I will work on during work hours.
As the old saying goes, what gets scheduled gets done. Create a schedule to make sure the work that needs to be done gets done, even when working at home.
2. Don’t turn on the TV
My television seems to have a magical ability so suck me in. I turn it on and next thing I know I’m three and a half hours into a marathon of a show I don’t even like. And have you noticed how the lineups that show up on the side of news shows and sports shows now somehow make you refuse to quit watching? I can’t count the number of times I plan to just watch Sportscenter with my breakfast, only to get trapped by that damn thing showing what’s coming up. I’ll think “I know I need to get to work, but an interview with ARods Aunts Cousins Sister-in-Law is coming up and she’s going to say she always knew he took steroids. I can’t miss that!”.
I’ve finally had to refuse to turn the TV on until my work for the day is complete. Maybe you have more willpower when it comes to television, but the internet is your weakness. Whatever it is that distracts you, keep it off until the work is done.
3. Take a shower and get dressed
I remember when online colleges first started getting popular, one of them did a commercial bragging how you could go to class in your pajamas at their school. I know several entrepreneurs who brag about the same thing. They love rolling out of bed and getting to work in their boxers or PJ’s.
While I love being able to wear what I want and not what a boss tells me to wear, I have found I am significantly more productive when I take a shower and get dressed in something at least half-way nice. I’m not saying to wear a suit and tie or even business casual attire, but if you look professional you are more likely to act professional. So comb your hair and put on some jeans and a shirt and you will likely be surprised at how much more productive you are.
I know there are people out there who can ignore all these tips and still be extremely productive. I don’t happen to be one of them and my guess is you aren’t either. If you want to increase your productivity while working from home, give these three tips a shot.
What about you? What have you found makes you more productive when working from home?