One of the things I never thought would be a problem when I started working for myself was being productive.
I always thought it was something I was good at.
Almost ever project I’ve ever created has been finished at least a week before the deadline, and I’ve managed to balance this blog, a relationship and three different university projects all at once before.
But that was when I had been given a very clear brief and goal to work towards.
When you’re self-employed you’re the one making that brief, which can be a lot harder to do than I originally thought it would be!
It’s hard to keep yourself motivated and productive when you’re the one in charge of everything, and I’ve had to do a bit of trial and error to find the things that work for me personally.
If there’s one thing I’ve realised since becoming self employed is that sitting in your PJs all day is the death of productivity.
Plus the novelty wears off pretty quickly!
This year I’ve made a conscious effort to get dressed, do my hair and even put a little bit of makeup on every day. I’d seen a lot of other freelancers talk about how it helped them feel more productive, and shift them into “work mode” when working from home.
I always thought that something as small as what I was wearing wouldn’t have an effect on my productivity, but I’ve actually been surprised at how much of a boost it’s given me.
The only time I don’t is if I’m ill, in which case I think I can be forgiven for having a PJ day!
Take Regular Breaks
I used to struggle with taking breaks until I came up with a few ways to take them, while still feeling productive.
I break my to-do list up into little goals and tasks, and then intermix them with other tasks that I need to do like ironing, putting a wash in or picking some bits up from the local shop.
These are all tasks that I need to do anyway, but doing when between tasks means that I’m taking a break from business-related tasks and also resting my eyes from constantly looking at a screen.
However I make sure to take a real break at dinner.
I’ll grab a book, make a drink and take an hour out of my day to let my mind relax and enjoy some time to myself.
My brain has a way of subconsciously working on ideas while I’m doing something else, so usually, I come back from this break with lots of new ideas and a few paragraphs of a blog post written!
Drink Enough Water
This is so important and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t drink anywhere near enough as I should.
Drinking 8 cups of water a day sounds difficult, but one of the ways I try to make sure I hit that is to have a big bottle of water next to me wherever I’m working.
It sounds daft but just having it next to me does actually encourage me to drink more, and I’ve noticed I get a lot fewer headaches since I started drinking more throughout the day.
Plus I’ve noticed my skin isn’t anywhere near as dry as it used to be!
It might not seem like an obvious step to take to improve productivity, but keeping hydrated has helped with my energy and motivation – especially now I’m not getting constant headaches.
Okay, so confession time; I’m actually typing this while watching Making A Murderer…again!
While I will occasionally have Netflix on in the background if I’m just designing graphics or answering emails, but if I’m doing something like writing a post or creating a new product for my resource library I try to avoid it.
It’s just too distracting!
I can quite happily just work in silence and in fact, I do most days, but I know a lot of people can’t, which is why sites like Coffitivity are brilliant.
It makes it sound like you’re in a coffee shop, which means you have some kind of background noise without the risk of it distracting you.
This is something I’ve used before when I was doing my undergrad, but I never really got on with it.
I’ve always preferred to just get stuck into a task and see where the flow takes me, rather than blocking out stick times to do things.
Not exactly the most productive use of my time!
Then Holly explained on her Instastories how to use time blocking properly and I finally found something that worked for me.
I block out the general structure of my day on Google Calander and then use the “Tasks” section on the side to write out any tasks I have to do.
I start out with big tasks such as “write a new blog post” and then I’ll add little sub-tasks such as “write the first draft”, “take photos”, “edit photos” etc.
This is something I’ve started doing to stop myself getting overwhelmed by everything I have to do – something that I’ve struggled with quite a bit in the past.
But when it comes to the time blocking itself, I keep it really vague such as “admin”, “university” or “content creation”. This means that I know what I want to be doing in that time, but still gives me the flexibility and freedom to do whichever task I want.
Keep Track Of Everything
This is important as a business owner anyway, but keeping track of each project or idea separately is something that has been a real help to me as a business owner.
I originally used to use Trello (and I still do for some things) but after reading one of Vix’s recent posts, I’ve made the switch over to Airtable.
I love being able to separate everything while still keeping the overall project in one place.
It has so many other features such as drop-down menus, tick boxes, creating formulas like in Excel, pulling information from other sheets in Airtable and even creating forms.
I’ve spent the last week building up an entirely new system for my business on there, and it’s been a brilliant way to keep track of coaching clients, eBook sales and new ideas for my resource library.
They also have a huge library of templates you can use for free to get you started!
How do you stay productive when working from home?