Heather Bien

writing and designing a colorful life

Working From Home: 5 Tips on Staying Productive

This past January, I started working from home full time. With the exception of on site client meetings once or twice a week, it's just me, at home, at my desk, motivating myself to keep chugging along all week long. Those who don't work from home or work from home only occasionally may think it's all long lunches, doing laundry, running errands, and going to the grocery store at 10 a.m., while in reality, I'm actually more productive at home at my desk than I've ever been in an office where there's distraction waiting every time someone walks by.

Yes, there are some perks. Without the hour and a half commute I had before working from home, I could never have gone to the grocery store at 8 a.m. before work or made a 6 p.m. barre class. But, it also requires being focused and self disciplined. I'm not sure it's for everyone, but if you are someone that is working from home, I've got five tips for you to stay productive and on task.

KNOW YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIMES


We all have our most productive times of the day, and often they aren't 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. So, pay attention to the times when you're really in the zone and then structure your day accordingly. For me, I'm most productive from when I wake up – Adam and I don't set an alarm, but generally we get up around 7 a.m. – to midday, and then again after 3 p.m. Luckily, most of my meetings tend to be early afternoon, which works well for utilizing my less focused times of the day since I'm forced to be present.

I'll get my most detail oriented work done in the morning right after I wake up and crank through until lunchtime. In the early afternoon, I'll do my work that requires a little less focus – looking for inspiration, reading relevant articles on trends, and such – and then by 3 p.m., I'm ready to put nose back to the grindstone. It actually works out well for my schedule that my most productive hours are before my other colleagues get into the office so that I can take care of edits and have content docs ready and waiting when the 9-5 workday starts. Then, in the evening, I can focus on blog work during a time when I'm still feeling at my most productive.

Outfit notes: I'm OBSESSED with these Levi's jeans. I had been searching for a pair of "mom jeans" in a light wash for literally a year. I even stopped a random girl in Vegas to ask where she got hers (Goodwill). Well, I finally found the dream jeans. The Wedgie High Waist Crop Icon Jeans. They are the perfect vintage throwback. Plus, if you're looking to boost your ego with some vanity sizing, you'll definitely want to size down one size in these. The earrings are a steal from J.Crew right now and are super lightweight, as is this v-neck t-shirt (on both accounts, the cost and the weight, actually). This backpack continues to be my favorite work bag since it easily fits a 15" laptop, converts to a tote, and is a slightly less expensive alternative to the TUMI backpack.



HAVE A DESIGNATED WORK SPACE


Carve out a space in your home that's entirely dedicated to working. Sitting on the couch with your laptop literally in your lap just isn't going to cut it if you're working from home every singly day. You need a place where you can work, take phone calls, and feel professional on a daily basis. Your work is likely a reflection of your headspace throughout the day, and if you're just lounging on the couch, you're not putting out your best work.

We're in a small apartment and there isn't a spare room for an office, but an unusually large hallway made for the perfect workspace. I decorated the space in a way that's different from the rest of the apartment, feels light and inspiring, and allows me to sit at my desk for hours focusing on the tasks at hand.



SWITCH UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT WHEN YOU'RE FEELING STUMPED


Of course sitting in your house all day can feel isolating or redundant at times even if you absolutely love your home office. So, whenever you're feeling like you're suffering from writer's block or just a lack of motivation, switch up your environment! Try out the coffee shop down the street, check out a working space, or, if you have a few tasks that don't require internet, head to a local park. I'm fortunate that my apartment building has working spaces on the first floor, so I often sit down there. It's amazing how much my perspective shifts once I put myself in a new space. I can feel totally at a loss for motivation, then the minute I'm in a new spot, it's like I've got a second wind.


TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BEING AT HOME


There are, of course, personal perks to working from home, and you should take advantage of those! For example, I make almost all my meals at home which not only saves money, but can be way healthier. I can easily snack on healthy options like almonds and yogurt throughout the day without having to plan ahead like I would if I was in an office. I can throw a meal in the crockpot at lunch time and it's ready for dinnerI wasn't able to do that when I was gone from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. And like I said earlier, I can squeeze in a barre class at noon if I don't have any meetings. The studio I go to is 45 seconds door to door from my apartment, so I'm not losing any time besides the class and no one's there to care if I stay in my work out clothes the rest of the day.



COMMIT TO SHUTTING OFF AT THE END OF THE DAY


The one downside to working from home? It's hard to know when to shut off. Particularly for those of us who work both a day job and a side hustle, it becomes a blurry line of when to stop. And, well, I'm writing this post at 10:45 p.m., so clearly I haven't totally mastered that division of work life balance. But, I do know that sometimes it's necessary to shut down the computer and be present. The work will always be there tomorrow. Scratch down a few notes if you're in the middle of an idea, take care of any pressing deadlines, and then close the laptop.



LASTLY, A FEW DON'TS

I'll leave you with a few obvious don'ts to consider. Don't have the TV on. I know people who do this while they work from home, and though I realize that perhaps I'm the weirdo because I sometimes can't even focus if the music I'm listening to has words, I just can't imagine anyone is at their best with Bravo in the background. Don't work in your pajamas. That is literally the first thing everyone asks when I say I work from home, "do you work in your pajamas?" No, no, I do not. Do I put on jeans and a blazer? No. But, I want to look presentable and feel professional. Lastly, don't take naps


Photos by Dana of Something Good

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