Are you struggling to manage it all and stay productive working from home? Tell me, are you actually productive at all, or just ‘busy’? There’s a big difference!
If you ever avoid making a “to-do” list because there’s too much to do or feel like giving up because you can’t fit everything into each day, listen up. I’ve been there, done that, and experienced all the emotions that come with it.
I’m no productivity guru, I still have frazzled days here and there. But I’m getting good at managing the ups and downs. (Go read my exact daily routine as a 6 figure blogger, for more details about THAT).
Here are 26 things that can help you be more productive working from home.
26 Little-Known Ways To Be More Productive Working From Home
Many moms survive sleep-deprived and aching for a little time of their own.
We need to perform an endless list of ‘need to do’s’ all day long. But it often feels like there is never enough time to get everything done.
When work or business is added to list, it seems impossible to maintain.
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Thankfully there is hope: a way to get some of that precious time and have time to work productively at your work-at-home job or home-based business.
Before we get started with these little-known ways to be more productive working from home, make sure you have your invite to my resource library.
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If there’s one thing I’ll totally go ahead and toot my own horn about, it’s my ability to get. 👏 shit. 👏 done.👏
(Or as us millennials call it: To “G.S.D.”)
I’m no stranger to hard work. I put myself through university, waitressed on the side, and even worked two jobs at the same time in my 20s to make ends meet.
I know how to hustle.
But more than how to hustle, what those years of late-night shifts and endless study sessions taught me was how to prioritize everything that was going on in my life.
I mean, there are only so many hours in a day, so you need to work efficiently if you want to hold down a job (or two) while also going to university, completing all of your coursework, and keeping some semblance of a social life.
When I started my online business in 2016, I brought this “GSD” attitude over into my business.
For years, I’ve had so many people say to me, “I don’t know how you get so much done!”
And at first, I didn’t really understand what they meant.
Doesn’t everyone get a ton of stuff done during their workday? Doesn’t everyone know how to motivate themselves and cross things off their to-do lists?
And the answer, as I soon learned, was no. No, they do not.
So today, I want to pull back the curtain and let you in on my best secrets for being super productive while working from home.
At the time I’m writing this, we’re a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and I know a lot of people are now working from home.
For many people, it’s a whole new world with a whole new set of challenges.
If that sounds like you, I got you. Get comfy, grab a cup of coffee, and keep reading for my best tips on GSDing while working from home.
1. Forget all the “rules” you’ve heard about working from home.
There’s a lot of prescriptive advice floating around about what you “should” do when you work from home.
- “Make sure you get dressed in proper clothes every day.”
- “Have set working hours that you stick to.”
- “Never work from your bed or the couch.”
And you know what I say to that? Bull.
I rarely get dressed in “proper” clothes and you know what? I’m still super productive. I also usually work from my desk in my home office, but if I feel like working from bed one day, I will. Plus, my work hours switch up from day to day depending on how I feel.
Do any of these things make me more or less productive? More or less of a business owner? More or less successful? Absolutely not.
I think of productivity as a mindset.
It’s a specific way of working. And it doesn’t have anything to do with what you wear, where you work from, or how many hours you slog it out for.
So for starters, let’s forget all of that advice and focus on finding what makes YOU your most productive self. Because when it comes down to it, that’s really all that matters.
And yes, I do realize the irony of starting a blog post about my best productivity tips by telling you to ignore advice that other people give.
But I stand by this. The following tips that I’m going to share are what work best for me and for a lot of people I know, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be 100% perfect for you.
So as with everything, take what works for you and leave the rest. Try these strategies out and if they make you more productive, continue to incorporate them into your routine.
2. Plan out your work tasks in a calendar.
Over the last four years of working from home, I’ve tried many different systems for planning out my work schedule and tasks.
I’ve used pen and paper, a bullet journal, Notion, a physical day planner… #allthethings.
But over the last six months, I’ve committed to one system and one tool that I absolutely love: Clickup.
Clickup is a project management software.
And while I do use it to assign tasks to my team members, I mainly use it to plan out my daily schedule and what I want to accomplish every day in my business.
The reason I love Clickup is that not only can you create to-do lists with it, but you can also switch into Calendar mode and then put different tasks on different days of the calendar
When I complete a task, it’s as easy as ticking it off in my Clickup calendar.
You can also click on a task and drag + drop it to a different day on the calendar.
While I do love a good ole pen and paper to-do list, I find that it’s easy to get stressed out as an entrepreneur if you aren’t able to plan things out in advance and see your schedule for the coming weeks.
For example, say I have to create a presentation for an upcoming summit, but it isn’t due for another 30 days.
I generally wouldn’t put that on my to-do list for today, since it isn’t a high-priority task.
Instead, I’d go into my Clickup calendar and add that task into the calendar for a couple of weeks from now.
That way, I never miss anything important and all of my work gets done in order of importance and priority (more on priorities below!).
3. Create Your schedule around your natural daily rhythm
This realization has been huge for me and it stems from what I said above about not following prescriptive advice from other people.
For example, you might hear experts say that you should spend an hour or two first thing in the morning working on your most important tasks for the day.
But then other people will tell you that you should get the ball rolling by tackling a few quick and easy tasks first thing so you can ease into your day.
So… which way is right?
In my opinion, neither. Or rather, it depends on you and how you feel throughout the day.
If you’re a morning person and you feel most switched on between the hours of 7-10am, you might prefer to work on your hardest, most intensive tasks in the morning.
On the other hand, if you struggle to get going in the morning and you don’t feel creative or energetic until the afternoon, that’s when you should do your hardest tasks.
Everyone has a different rhythm and different energy levels throughout the day.
So do your best to schedule your work tasks based on your own natural rhythm and energy.
And don’t let anyone make you feel bad or wrong for doing things a different way than they do.
Personally, my rhythm actually changes over time.
Sometimes I’ll go through a phase where I’m waking up at 5am and I want to start work right away.
I’ll dive into my big tasks straight away and have no problems ticking things off my list in the morning.
But then a few weeks later, I might find myself sleeping in until 7am or 8am and not starting work until 9.
In that case, I often need a bit more time to “get going”, so I’ll start off my workday with easy tasks like answering emails or engaging on Instagram.
I then leave my bigger tasks that require more brainpower — like writing blog posts, recording podcast episodes, or working on my courses — for the afternoon or evening when I feel more focused and creative.
Again, it’s all about figuring out what your natural rhythm is and creating your work schedule based on that.
4. Have a designated workspace — but switch it up when needed.
While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working from the couch or even from bed sometimes, I do think there’s value in having a designated workspace.
Personally, I have a home office with a nice big desk.
And because I have back problems, it’s important for me to have a comfy and supportive chair (working from bed can be really hard on my back and neck, so I work from my desk most days).
When you work from home, it can be really hard to switch off when the workday is done and to transition into “personal mode”.
Lines get blurred. I used to struggle with this a lot, and I still do some days.
But one thing that’s helped me create that distinction is to do most of my work in my home office, and then use the rest of my home for non-work-related things.
With that said, if I’m ever feeling sick or super low energy but I still need to get some work done, I have no problems doing it from bed or on the couch.
I also have a friend who works from home and she works from her couch the majority of the time (her boyfriend recently bought her a rolling desk to go in front of the couch because he was worried about her back )
So again, it’s up to you to figure out what type of environment you work best in — whether that’s a home office, at the kitchen table, on the couch, or even at your local coffee shop or co-working space.
If you find yourself losing your creativity or feeling a bit stifled, switch up your environment for a couple of days to see if that sparks things up.
5. Create a priorities list
Productivity stems from having clearly defined priorities. I truly believe the saying: “It’s not lack of time, it’s lack of priorities.”
If you’ve ever looked at what I’ve accomplished in my business (especially pre 2019 before I had a team) and thought to yourself, “Wow, I could never get that much done!”
Well, just remember, I have the same number of hours in a day as you do.
In fact, I rarely work more than 5 hours/day and I always try to work less than 20 hours/week.
So how do I get so much accomplished?
Simple: I’ve gotten really good at identifying what my priorities are and what’s actually going to move the needle in my business.
I don’t do any “busywork.”
The 4-5 hours I spend working on my business each day are focused on things that will move my business forward and improve my bottom line.
So I want you to be honest with yourself:
- Are you wasting time when you’re supposed to be working?
- Are you scrolling through Instagram way too often?
- Are you checking your emails every hour?
- Are you spending your time on tasks that will actually grow your business and revenue?
You might think you are.
But when you take a step back and actually look at the numbers and the results you’re getting, you’ll be able to see which tasks are actually moving the needle and which aren’t creating the results and impact you want.
The latter need to be eliminated, automated, or outsourced.
With that said, let’s talk about what a Priority List is. Each day, I create a list of the tasks I really want to finish on that particular day.
I then make sure these tasks get done no matter what. Anything else that I accomplish on top of those 2-3 high-priority tasks is just icing on the cake.
I’ll also take this to the next level and create a Priorities List for my entire month.
Generally, it will have 4-5 big tasks or projects that I want to finish that month. If you wanted, you could even create a priorities list for each quarter or the entire year.
The moral of the story is that if you don’t have clear priorities and you aren’t focused on tasks that will actually move the needle, that’s busy-ness, not business. 😉
Also, be sure to read how I plan a monthly CEO day.
6. Outsource the annoying stuff and work within your zone of genius
I know so many people rave about outsourcing, and yes, it is fantastic, but I do think it’s important not to outsource everything too quickly.
Don’t be afraid to start small.
Find a few tasks that are eating up a lot of your time but that are outside of your zone of genius, and outsource those to a virtual assistant.
What do I mean by “zone of genius”? I mean the tasks and projects that require your personal touch and that play to your strengths. For me, that’s content creation, copywriting, and creating my paid products and courses.
You could outsource things like:
- Graphic design
- Editing your podcast
- Facebook ad management
- Answering customer/student customer service emails
- Managing your social media
I also outsource things like:
- Housework/cleaning (I have a housekeeper, as well as a Narwal.)
- Grocery shopping (I get mine delivered, as food boxes so I don’t even have to think about it)
Is there anyone else who can help you? The people around you are resources. When appropriate, use their time and talents wisely to get things done more quickly.
They say time is money. By giving someone some of the mundane tasks you have more time to focus on your work or business and increase your income.
So hire a housekeeper, a sitter to come in the afternoon while you work, or a virtual assistant to help you with marketing your business.
To be productive working from home we sometimes need help and there’s nothing to feel guilty about asking.
If you’re curious to hear what my team looks like and exactly how I outsource, plus my top tips for building and managing your team, I have a blog post about it here.
If you don’t think you have the budget to outsource, I highly encourage you to read that post. I guarantee it will change the way you think about outsourcing!
7. Don’t strive to work 8 hours/day, 5 days/week.
Once again, I’m going to reiterate the same message of finding what works for YOU, not what everyone says you *should* be doing.
The same thing applies to the “40-hour workweek” concept.
Who says you need to work 40 hours a week to be productive and successful?
Newsflash! You don’t.
Some people work way less than 40 hours a week and are crazy successful, and some people work way more than 40 hours a week and are crazy successful.
Everyone’s different and there’s no perfect routine or perfect # of hours to work.
One thing I hate seeing is entrepreneurs who force themselves to sit in their home office for 8 hours a day (e.g., from 9-5 every day) even if they don’t have a lot of work to do or they feel super foggy and unfocused.
When you push yourself to continue working even if you’ve lost your mojo or could use a break, you are not producing your best work.
It’s so much better to take a break or wrap up your work early and then come back to it the next day with a clear head, rather than to force yourself to keep working when you’re just not feeling it.
You’ll likely end up having to re-do a lot of the work you did the day before. And yes, I say this from experience.
Another pet peeve of mine is when people clock out at 5pm even though they should actually stay in their office and work a bit longer to get things done.
For example, if you have a client project that’s due today but it isn’t finished yet, you bet your ass you should plunk it down for another few hours and get it done!
If you made a commitment to someone (a client, a student, a peer, whatever), I don’t think it’s okay to sign off for the day until that commitment has been met.
Of course, there are extenuating circumstances that can apply, but still.
Don’t be lazy. If this is happening often for you, you need to revaluate your priorities, readjust your work schedule, or reduce the number of commitments you have. Simple as that.
8. Choose the right time, and change it whenever you want
Pick a time to work when you can be most productive.
Nearly everyone has times of the day when they are most effective and times when they tend to drag.
It’s smart to schedule the most critical tasks for your most effective time of the day. It helps to choose a time when your children are occupied, napping or cared for by another.
But know that you can change that time any day because you are a human, and you will feel called to be productive at wildly different times.
9. Let go of tasks that aren’t “have to-dos”
Choose the priorities in your life and put those first.
Learn to say no when people want you to volunteer and you know you don’t have time for it.
If you are working several at-home jobs or businesses, pick those you like the most and have the best-earning potential; toss the others.
10. Get the bad stuff out of the way
Complete unpleasant tasks first. That way you get them done and can more onto the things you like.
Otherwise, those unpleasant ones may never get done.
11. Set goals for each day
Make a to-do list for each day, spread household chores out into smaller pieces. You’ll get more done this way and stay on target with your priorities.
Having weekly, monthly and yearly goals are great to have, also. They help you see the big picture.
Essential podcast listening: How to set and achieve big goals as an entrepreneur
12. Eliminate all communication
While you’re working, turn off your phone, and don’t check your personal email.
Obviously, this tip doesn’t apply if you are working on your social media marketing, but usually, you can go a few hours without your phone.
Hang a sign that says, “Do not disturb,” if necessary.
You don’t have to do this for all your tasks, but at least do it during the more difficult items.
Let your loved ones know that even though you’re home this is your “at work” time.
Being more productive working from home means letting family and friends know you there are times you won’t be able to answer the calls or texts.
13. Batch similar tasks together
When you bounce between different kinds of tasks you decrease your efficiency.
- Do all your emailing at one time.
- Make all your phone calls at another.
- Open your emails during a set block of time. If you can’t reply to everyone before times up, too bad. It can wait until the next dedicated email block of time.
- Schedule all your marketing at the same time.
- Automate your social media posting as much as possible, so you don’t have to manually post anythig. But set an hour a week when you will schedule your SmarterQueue and Tailwind que for the week.
14. Set a timer
Even if a task might take hours, starting will seem easier if you simply give yourself 30 minutes to get as much done as you can.
A time limit seems to help many people concentrate and work better, too.
This works great when you want to use your time better by limiting your computer time or only have 15 minutes in the day to clean house.
15. Set targets
For example, if you have to make cold-calls for your sales job, tell yourself that you’re not getting up for any reason until you’ve made at least 100 calls.
Regardless of what happens, refuse to stop until you hit your target.
16. Use the Pareto Principle
This principle states that 20% of the actions you could take will provide you with 80% of the benefits.
So focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most. Unfortunately, these are frequently the tasks that are not enjoyable.
You might be surprised how little you really have to do if you focus on the critical 20%.
17. Set a deadline
Having a specific endpoint will really help to focus your time and energy. Goals are nothing without a deadline in place.
Deadlines drive you to where you want to be.
18. Increase your speed
Create routines you can follow daily. Group tasks as mentioned earlier. Improve your skills with practice and study.
As you become more confident with each of these, your speed will increase giving you more time in your day.
The 5 keys to accelerating your success
Here are my top 5 keys to accelerating your success as a productive entrepreneur, working from home.
- Get familiar with your Human Design Type and Strategy
- Make a consistent commitment to visibility
- Take (imperfect) action every day and don’t get stuck in over-planning
- Focus on the opportunity and shift out of a lack/scarcity mindset
- Do the inner work on your money mindset, self-worth, and healing
Bonus: How To Stay Productive As A Work From Home Mom With Kids At Home
If you are a work-from-home mom, you might struggle with productivity; particularly when your little ones are home during the day. Summer break, Christmas break, Spring break, all those other random days they have off of school.
In order to stay productive during these times, you need to have a plan! It can feel so overwhelming when you have children at your feet, housework to get done, meals to prepare, and the thousand other things on your to-do list.
But fear not my fellow WAHM! There is a way to stay productive when the kids are home without losing your marbles!
19. Get Up Early
You may not be a morning person, but yu can become one.
I love being able to get some work in before the kids get up and all the chaos ensues. I generally try to schedule work for the morning that requires less distractions, like writing or strategic planning.
But of course, I don’t do anything without my cup of coffee in hand!
20. Set Expectations
We have house rules and chores posted where the kids can easily see them. They know before they can get screen time (especially over the summer) that they need to complete their “work” first.
This includes things like reading for 20 minutes, doing something creative or productive for 45 minutes, their daily chores, cleaning their rooms, etc.
Not only does this give them a sense of structure but it also gives me time to get some work done. While they are occupied with their work, I can get things done.
21. Schedule Playdates
If you know other local WAHMs then see if you can schedule playdates. Either switch off and take each other’s kids for blocks of time, or let the kids play together while the both of you work.
This is great for socialization for both your kids and for you. Working from home can be lonely, having another adult around can help to keep you sane!
22. Time Block
Time Block! In order to stay productive as a WAHM you need to schedule your activities and time blocking is a great way to do just that! Time blocking allows you to schedule activities for certain amounts of time and work specifically on those tasks. This works for both large and small tasks.
For example, from 5-7am, Monday through Thursday, before the kids get up in the morning, I will write.
Then, the kids are working on their “work” I will spend about 2 hours checking emails, responding to blog comments and other things that time but don’t require a lot of brain power.
That way if the kids need help with something and I need to step away, it is easier to just jump right back into what I was doing.
Then I also use little chunks of time that I know I will have for smaller tasks. For example, for an hour when my daughter is in dance class Tuesday evenings, I’ll be active in Facebook groups or read other blogs and comment on their posts.
There is no set “you need to do this at this time” for time blocking. It will be different for everyone depending upon what you have going on in your life.
23. Make A Schedule
This is very similar to time blocking but can include other non-work activities. For example, grocery shopping, doing laundry, making dinner, and all those “other” things that life requires.
I am one of those types of people that if it isn’t in my calendar, it’s not gonna happen!
24. Get Dressed…In Actual Clothes!
It’s easy to just live in your yoga pants.
However, I have personally found that I am far more productive during the day if I start my day off like I am actually “going” to work. You know, shower, put on a bra, and maybe a little perfume! Doing these activities gets you in the mindset of being productive and getting stuff done!
It can be so easy to fall into the trap of staying in your PJs all day, forgetting to eat then binging on cookies because your starving (I have some experience in this if you can’t tell…).
This is why having a capsule wardrobe is so handy.
25. Minimize Distractions
Besides waking up at the crack of dawn, this one is probably the most difficult for me personally. I am more than your average amount of children (6 to be exact).
My entire day is one big distraction. So how do I go about minimizing them?
Well, I create a dedicated workspace. I have an office, that thankfully has a door.
The family knows that when I am in my office I am working.
So if you can, create a “work” area for yourself and let the rest of your family know when you are in this “work area” you are not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding!
Make sure that this work area, again if possible, is free of visual distractions. You don’t want to be staring at a pile of dishes or laundry that needs to be done.
Keep your workspace for your work stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I have been distracted because my kids unload all their school papers in my office and I notice something out of the corner of my eye that I feel needs my immediate attention.
26. Get Outside
I try to get outside at least once a day. You know, sunlight and vitamin D and whatnot.
Get some light, at least indirectly if you still need to see your screen. Let the kids play in the backyard while you get some work done. As I write this I am sitting on my deck, while the kids ride their bikes around and the baby is happy as can be in his jumper next to me.
It’s not much, but it’s a change of scenery, which is a nice change of pace from my office chair. A few more “distractions” but well worth it.
26 Ways To Be More Productive Working From Home – Conclusion
Over the last few years of my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve faced just about every challenge under the sun.
And along the way, I’ve learned a TON of lessons about what it really takes to become successful, abundant, and fulfilled in your work.
Do you work from home? How long have you been doing so? What are your best tips for staying productive while working from home? Let me know in a comment below.
I really hope you found the 7 tips above helpful and that you’re staying sane and healthy.
What tips and tricks do you have for working from home while the kids are home?