Working from home has a unique set of advantages: the commute is nonexistent, the schedule is flexible, and there are fewer interruptions from coworkers. As an entrepreneur, there are even more advantages: the type of work you do, the number of hours you choose to work, and the location of your office are up to you.
These reasons (and more) are behind the astounding growth over the last decade in the number of people who work from home. Statistics indicate that as many as 13.4 million people work from home at least one day a week, up from 9.5 million in 1999. The increased freedom can be a compelling reason to begin working from home, but many work-at-home entrepreneurs find that they struggle with maintaining motivation.
How can you stay motivated while working from home?
1. Make a schedule.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws to working from home is the ability to choose your own hours. Freeing yourself from the 9-5 workday is exhilarating, but it can also be a productivity killer. To avoid the lure of a free-for-all schedule, break your day into segments. One suggested idea from Business Insider is to have three distinct sessions. The first session, for example, could be designated for catching up on emails and news, while the next could be a collaboration session set aside to confer with coworkers or discuss other group work. The third session should be a dedicated work session where you complete the most meaningful work of your day. The make-up and order of your sessions are entirely up to you. Maintaining a regular schedule will allow you to stay productive and will help you make distinctions between the personal and professional parts of your day.
2. Don’t wear your pajamas to work.
No one is suggesting that you put on a business suit every day, but there is a psychological effect that takes place when you change out of your pajamas into a set of decent clothes. Not only will it change your mindset about the work that you need to complete, but it will help you reinforce the boundary between your personal activities and your workday.
3. Separate your communications systems.
A serious productivity staller, the barrage of personal and work-related emails, phone calls, and other forms of communication can be a hindrance to getting work done. Use a separate email address, instant messaging app, and phone line for work purposes to prevent such distractions. Resist the temptation to just “check your email real quick” or make calls to friends during work hours.
4. Find a change of scenery.
The afternoon slump can be toxic to productivity, particularly for the work-at-home entrepreneur. The siren’s call of the couch or the bed is strong, and it’s a definite road block on the path to productivity. If you find yourself losing momentum in the afternoon, a change of scenery may be just what you need. Take your laptop to the library, your favorite coffee shop, or the neighborhood bookstore to keep yourself on track. Not only is the change in scenery rejuvenating, but having other people around who are busy can trick your brain into thinking that you need to be busy, too.
5. Get started early.
Take advantage of the lack of commute and start your day early. Wake up, put on a pot of coffee, and get dressed. Jump right into work and take a break midmorning for breakfast. This allows you to put in a few hours of work while you’re fresh, and gives you a motivating sense of accomplishment right off the bat.
6. Remove the social media temptation.
If you’re like most people, you compulsively check your social media accounts whenever you have any downtime. Unwittingly, this can start to eat away at your productivity as you find yourself stuck in a vortex of cat videos and political rants. To remove this temptation, make it harder to access social media by deleting their icons from your browser toolbar. While it won’t guarantee that you stay away, it might be enough to stop the unconscious clicking on them whenever you have a spare minute.
7. Save phone calls for the afternoon.
Use the morning hours to accomplish the most difficult parts of your day. Take advantage of your morning energy and tackle the tasks for which you need your utmost concentration and focus. Then, use the afternoon to make calls, conduct video-conferences, or other tasks that won’t require as much motivation.
8. Set a timer.
One of the benefits of working from home is being able to take a break and tackle household chores during the day. Use these chores as mini-crunch sessions to get work done. If you’re throwing laundry in, give yourself a small task to accomplish before it’s time to put the clothes in the dryer. When you start the dryer, give yourself another goal to complete before you can take the clothes out.
9. Prep meals the night before.
A cost-saving benefit and major perk of working from home is the luxury of having your kitchen available for meals. Save time by performing meal prep at night for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
10. Set an end to your work day.
As easy as it is to let your personal life invade your professional life, it is equally as easy to allow your professional life to eat away at your personal time. Set an end-time to your work day, and maintain that boundary to protect yourself from feeling as though you have a 24-hour job.
Working from home can be rewarding, but it comes with its own set of challenges. By maximizing your ability to be productive, you are ensuring that your experience as a work-from-home entrepreneur is enjoyable and profitable.