5 Tips to be productive while working from home

Monday: Working from home is the best!
Thursday: Omg, I can’t get anything done.

This is the dialogue I used to have with myself when I first started. As convenient as it is, working from home definitely comes with its own challenges. The two L’s that I would consider the enemies of working from home are loneliness & laziness. If you work from home, there is no one to keep you company OR keep you on top of your to-do list. I get it, I’ve been there!
It’s been three years since I’ve traded my day job to work full-time as a freelance artist. I’ve experienced the ups and downs. And if I’m being totally honest, I don’t know that I’ll ever get a traditional day job again. The fact that I can walk to work is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Diving right into the post, let’s talk about how to enhance productivity while working from home. Like all how-to posts, I will say that I speak only from my experience and from what I’ve learned from others. That is where I draw the line on my “expertise” and I’m not at all claiming that I’m an expert on this. If you’re cool with that, keep on reading ;)

watercolor paint palette
watercolor artist painter

1. Have a designated place to work
Not everyone who works from home does this, but for me having a separate office space helps me tremendously. When I step into my office (aka the “art cave”), my work mode turns “on” and I feel the pressure to get things done. There are deadlines written out on my giant calendar, and the half finished paintings on my desk that I cannot ignore. Having a designated room forces me to set physical boundaries to separate home and work, which is HUGE for me. When I’m at work (aka in the office), I don’t text or check my Instagram. I get to work. If I’m home (aka in the living room/bedroom), I can fully step away. It’s like what they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Now I’m not that crazy strict with myself. Sometimes, I’ll work on my kitchen island if I’m still having breakfast, and that’s totally fine. However, I think having a designated place to work is SO important for productivity.

2. Set office hours
This one goes back to my point #1 of setting boundaries. Living and working from home has a lot of perks, but one of the most challenging things is differentiating a place where you work from a place where you rest. This is where setting office hours can help. It may be tempting to work or rest whenever you want but I can guarantee that you’ll probably end up working MORE hours this way. It’s much more liberating to focus at work, and then clock off at a certain time and fully walk away. Do yourself a favor and set office hours. A perk of working from home is that you don’t have to work from 8 to 5 like everyone else. You can work whenever you want. Whatever time that may be, make sure you create office hours and stick to it.

work space art studio painter

3. Work by a window
As a visual person, the look & feel of my workspace is extremely important for me.
This might sound silly but I feel like I work harder, better, and faster when my desk is by a window and here is why. The window allows me to see the weather, the time of the day without a clock, and ultimately be connected with the outside world. All of this makes work more enjoyable and also helps me work faster. I didn’t realize how big this was until we moved into our new home and my office had two huge windows. They face our backyard where I could see trees blowing in the wind or my dog Rylie chase squirrels. It’s an instant mood lifter and makes me feel less bored at work. Hey, it’s the simple things right?

4. Be social
As an extrovert, I really hated working alone when I first started. Working 8 hours a day by myself made me feel exhausted and depressed without the company of others. There would be days when the only person I saw or talked to was my husband. After several weeks of this, I realized how unhealthy that was for the both of us, and I needed to change my environment ASAP. Now that it has been three years, I’ve grown to enjoy working by myself. Even still, I realize how important it is to stay connected with people and your local community, so I’ll make an effort to schedule things throughout the week. I love getting together with other freelance friends and working at a local coffee shop. It’s so nice to have a change in scenery and to occasionally converse between breaks. Even if a friend isn’t available, I would recommend working outside the office once a week.

5. Batch work
This is the hot tip everyone is talking about - batch work your to-dos! I’ve heard Jenna Kutcher, Gary V, Jim Kwik, and a few other people I admire talk about the power of batch working and I’m totally sold. If you’ve never heard of batch working, it basically means to group similar projects and accomplish them in a sitting. This helps you stay focused on the task at hand without having to switch gears. When you jump from one project to another, you have to remember all the different things that are associated with each project. Switching from task-to-task takes a lot of brain power and can cause you to work slower and be less productive. Work smarter not harder.

watercolor paint palette winsor & newton
floral watercolor artist painting studio

& those are my top 5 tips for working from home! I hope these were helpful for you as you get all of the things done. As business owners, creatives, or millennials, we have a million different things we want to get done. I’ve realized that “have a productive day” is the new “have a good day” because what’s better than a day you’ve crossed off a million things? I’m half kidding here. Being productive is awesome but it totally should not define the quality of your day (I’m reminding myself here.)
Well friends, thanks for reaching this lengthy post. I wish you a happy, I mean, productive day!

floral orange yellow blue watercolor painting

Photography by Kimmie Harper