My name is Prakky and I work from home.
This doesn’t suit everyone but I love it. I’m in my second year of being a sole consultant and one thing I enjoy most is having a home-based office. It’s exactly the lifestyle I’m after at this stage of my life, being independent, with my own working hours and available to my school age children where they need me.
I’m a member of a few solo operator networks online and I know one of the more popular topics of discussion is personal productivity and how to stay on track – in particular if you do work from home and there’s the constant temptation of the fridge/daytime TV/sunny garden. There may also be the urge to become a super multi-tasker and to clean out that fridge/put some washing on/sweep the floor. So I thought I’d share my own habits when it comes to personal productivity.
[Before I go any further – I’m going to outline what works for me but I understand people have different working styles and I’m not demanding that you Do What I Do. Perhaps you’ll get some ideas or perhaps you’ll be reassured that your own different style of work is best for you.]
Here’s the principles I work to:
- Working hours are for client work, not housework
- If you start working on a project even for just a few minutes, that’s a few minutes you don’t have to work on it tomorrow
- Recognise your down times and “can’t be stuffed” times and don’t fight it … as long as there aren’t too many!
- Have some rewards for working from home – after all, that’s part of what it’s about
Let me expand on those four points.
1. Working hours are for client work, not housework
When you work from home, it’s tempting to quickly do a bit of housework. Resist this. Housework doesn’t pay the bills (unless you’re a cleaner). Mentally, I’m focused on my workspace – my keyboard, my radio, my To Do List, my view out of the window onto the street outside. Sure, I dip into the kitchen for coffee and meals, I walk around to stretch my legs, but I remind myself of my client work and the fact that 1) housework can wait and 2) housework doesn’t pay the bills.
I also know that when the kids get home from school, the house is noisier, so I like to ensure I devote that quieter alone time to client work and rather than waste it on housework.
The reverse of this also applies. I try not do client work on weekends. I remind myself that two days away from the office desk is important, and that weekends are the time for family and friends and slothing around – and of course, that pesky housework! As someone who works from home, I like to get out of the house on weekends.
2. If you start working on a project even for just a few minutes, that’s a few minutes you don’t have to work on it tomorrow
Aka, my Anti-Procrastination Rule. I don’t put off until tomorrow, I make a start today because I know every sentence or idea or piece of thinking time contributes to the body of work a client is waiting for. (And yes, I hate me too when I make myself do this). This might be something as simple as opening a document, giving it a title, putting in some formatting, inputting some tasks and headlines, reminding yourself what the client wanted and typing in some hasty notes and early ideas, then saving and closing that doc until tomorrow. The thing is: while you’re there, you might find (like me) that other ideas come to you, that you feel compelled to write a little more and rewrite and improve pieces, so before you know it, you’ve actually got a decent first draft. #PatOnBack
3. Recognise your down times and “can’t be stuffed” times and don’t fight it … as long as there aren’t too many!
I don’t work well on Friday afternoons.
On Friday afternoons, I tend to knock off when the kids are home from school. That’s it. It’s the weekend. But even earlier – say around lunch – I know I’m losing steam. So I save this time for easier and more administrative tasks. This includes deleting emails, banking and quick friendly ‘catch up’ emails to clients. I also do more of my social media promotional work here: drafting blog posts, thinking of ideas for next week’s Facebook posts, working through LinkedIn to see what opportunities there are there – those are fun tasks, for me, but not for everyone.
The reverse of this also applies. I am hyper-motivated on Mondays. So I try to use this time to bite off difficult projects. It’s the time when my brain is best able to come up with new ideas, complete a large document, or complete a new public presentation.
4. Have some rewards for working from home: after all, that’s part of what it’s about
It’s fun working from home! Yes, client work is important, but keeping yourself a happy and motivated employee is also important. And if you’re not capitalising on some of the perks of working from home, that’s just silly isn’t it? You may as well be in a massive office with dozens of other people working in a climate-controlled environment.
So yes, I do sit outside in the sunshine with my laptop sometimes.
Yes, I do move my laptop from my work desk to the kitchen bench sometimes and have ABC 24 playing in the background – especially during exciting news periods.
Yes, when I need to stretch, I do walk around the block (a massive health advantage of working from home. In corporate environments I never felt comfortable about getting up and stretching, about taking time away from my screen, even though officially it’s encouraged, nobody else does it and it’s seen as either strange or time wasting).
Yes, if I have a lot of reading to do, I can lie on the sofa or prop myself up on my bed.
These four principles work well for me, keep me on track, keep clients happy – and keep me happy.
I’d love to hear about your personal productivity routines. Share some in the Comments below, whether you work from home or not.