How to be your most productive when working from home

Lisa Wright is a bookkeeper and founder of Our Working Life. As a mother to two teenage boys, working from home gives her the flexibility to attend school events, as well as do the early morning drop offs. It also means she’s able to juggle her time so she can pursue her passion for wildlife rehabilitation. 

But, working from home is not without its challenges. Here Lisa explains the most common challenges and how to make sure these don’t affect your productivity.

Avoiding distractions

“Home itself can be the biggest distraction,” says Wright. “There are always things to do, such as cleaning or popping in washing.”

To avoid this, Wright suggests dedicating specific times of the day purely for work, nothing else. For instance, from 9-12 then 1 till 4pm. 

Wright also advises working in a space away from distractions.

“I work in our spare room because it’s quiet and away from my bookshelves and magazines,” she says. “I have a mood board with inspiring pictures of my goals, as well as to do lists.”

While small businesses need to be contactable, Wright suggests turning off unnecessary notifications on your mobile such as social media. Where possible, she suggests checking emails at intermittent times throughout the day and avoiding responding to personal ones during work hours. 

Planning and scheduling

Planning and scheduling is important for prioritising and avoiding working additional hours. Without planning you also run the risk of losing profit which is inefficient for your business. 

“I put everything into my IPhone calendar which syncs to my laptop,” says Wright. “I also use Evernote for upcoming tasks that may be linked to a client, rather than a particular day.”

Wright sets aside time at the end of the week to add long term events and goals for each client, such as end of quarter reconciliation so end of year brings no surprises

“Make your list of priorities and do the one thing you’re really dreading first” advises Wright. “Get it over with so the rest of the day is enjoyable and productive.”

Taking sufficient breaks and looking after your mental health

Whether you’re on the road, with a client or behind a desk, working for yourself means that it’s easy to skip breaks or lunch, which is not good for mental or physical health. 

“Having two dogs is a great excuse for me to get away from my desk,” says Wright. “The dogs don’t tend to go out in the yard to play unless I initiate it, so getting outside is good for us. A quick 10-15 minute play in the sunshine is great to rev me up again.”

As well as general tips such as moving away from the screen or worksite, stretching or getting outside, there are other ways to take a break too. 

A book, a suduko puzzle or a brain training app is a good way to switch off from work, as is listening to some of your favourite songs. If you’re motivated by learning, download a language app and listen a couple of times a week. 

Watching ten minutes of your favourite comedian or sitcom on YouTube can provide a giggle to get through the day.  

Avoiding social isolation 

Working from home or for yourself can be isolating and lonely, so it’s helpful to get out socially once or twice a week.

Communicating by phone or in person, as opposed to text or social media, is beneficial, as is working from a different environment. 

“If it’s a light work day, I’ll work at a local café or even at the library just to feel the hum of people around me,” says Wright. “They can be noisy, but I love it. It’s like a heartbeat.” 

Joining online networks with other small businesses means you can meet others seeking social contact. Who knows, you may even find a virtual workplace buddy or someone to work with on upcoming projects. 

Motivation 

Rewarding yourself when you’ve reached certain goals is a good way to keep motivated. For achieving longer term goals, plan to buy something special that you’ve wanted for ages, or plan a trip overseas. 

For shorter term goals or for simply working hard, reward yourself with an afternoon off a week to do something you enjoy. Perhaps, a drink with a friend, a round of golf, starting a new book or heading to the beach.

Learning something new can also prove invigorating.

“I recently did some copywriting and blogging courses, and I meet monthly with my Institute of Certified Bookkeepers networks,” says Wright. “Hearing what’s new in my field has been really helpful and ensures I stay current.”

Setting boundaries between work and home

Working from home can make it hard to fully switch off and there’s a risk that you feel like you work 24/7. So, how does Wright overcome this?

“It’s challenging, especially because we’re available around the clock with emails and phone calls coming through to our devices,” she says. “I think it helps to have something to divert your focus and relax.”

“Reading is my favourite distraction, so I make sure there’s a good page turner by the bed. It has to be a physical book. No iPad or Kindle reading for me!”

Similarly, Wright says to focus on family time.

“My sons are only going to be home for maybe five to seven years more before and I don’t want to miss that,” she says. “I’d rather have a busy work week than miss out on weekend family activities.

One in three Australians now regularly work from home, particularly those with small businesses and startups. To many, this working arrangement is appealing and has many advantages.

Lisa Wright is a bookkeeper. As a mother to two teenage boys, working from home gives her the flexibility to attend school events, as well as do the early morning drop offs. It also means she’s able to juggle her time so she can pursue her passion for wildlife rehabilitation.

But, working from home is not without its challenges. Here Lisa explains the most common challenges and how to make sure these don’t affect your productivity.

H2: Avoiding distractions

“Home itself can be the biggest distraction,” says Wright. “There are always things to do, such as cleaning or popping in washing.”

To avoid this, Wright suggests dedicating specific times of the day purely for work, nothing else. For instance, from 9-12 then 1 till 4pm.

Wright also advises working in a space away from distractions.

“I work in our spare room because it’s quiet and away from my bookshelves and magazines,” she says. “I have a mood board with inspiring pictures of my goals, as well as to do lists.”

While small businesses need to be contactable, Wright suggests turning off unnecessary notifications on your mobile such as social media. Where possible, she suggests checking emails at intermittent times throughout the day and avoiding responding to personal ones during work hours.

H2: Planning and scheduling

Planning and scheduling is important for prioritising and avoiding working additional hours. Without planning you also run the risk of losing profit which is inefficient for your business.

“I put everything into my IPhone calendar which syncs to my laptop,” says Wright. “I also use Evernote for upcoming tasks that may be linked to a client, rather than a particular day.”

Wright sets aside time at the end of the week to add long term events and goals for each client, such as end of quarter reconciliation so end of year brings no surprises

Make your list of priorities and do the one thing you’re really dreading first” advises Wright. “Get it over with so the rest of the day is enjoyable and productive.”

H2: Taking sufficient breaks and looking after your mental health

Whether you’re on the road, with a client or behind a desk, working for yourself means that it’s easy to skip breaks or lunch, which is not good for mental or physical health.

“Having two dogs is a great excuse for me to get away from my desk,” says Wright. “The dogs don’t tend to go out in the yard to play unless I initiate it, so getting outside is good for us. A quick 10-15 minute play in the sunshine is great to rev me up again.”

As well as general tips such as moving away from the screen or worksite, stretching or getting outside, there are other ways to take a break too.

A book, a suduko puzzle or a brain training app is a good way to switch off from work, as is listening to some of your favourite songs. If you’re motivated by learning, download a language app and listen a couple of times a week.

Watching ten minutes of your favourite comedian or sitcom on YouTube can provide a giggle to get through the day.

H2: Avoiding social isolation 

Working from home or for yourself can be isolating and lonely, so it’s helpful to get out socially once or twice a week.

Communicating by phone or in person, as opposed to text or social media, is beneficial, as is working from a different environment.

“If it’s a light work day, I’ll work at a local café or even at the library just to feel the hum of people around me,” says Wright. “They can be noisy, but I love it. It’s like a heartbeat.”

Joining online networks with other small businesses means you can meet others seeking social contact. Who knows, you may even find a virtual workplace buddy or someone to work with on upcoming projects.

H2: Motivation 

Rewarding yourself when you’ve reached certain goals is a good way to keep motivated. For achieving longer term goals, plan to buy something special that you’ve wanted for ages, or plan a trip overseas.

For shorter term goals or for simply working hard, reward yourself with an afternoon off a week to do something you enjoy. Perhaps, a drink with a friend, a round of golf, starting a new book or heading to the beach.

Learning something new can also prove invigorating.

“I recently did some copywriting and blogging courses, and I meet monthly with my Institute of Certified Bookkeepers networks,” says Wright. “Hearing what’s new in my field has been really helpful and ensures I stay current.”

H2: Setting boundaries between work and home

Working from home can make it hard to fully switch off and there’s a risk that you feel like you work 24/7. So, how does Wright overcome this?

It’s challenging, especially because we’re available around the clock with emails and phone calls coming through to our devices,” she says. “I think it helps to have something to divert your focus and relax.”

“Reading is my favourite distraction, so I make sure there’s a good page turner by the bed. It has to be a physical book. No iPad or Kindle reading for me!”

Similarly, Wright says to focus on family time.

“My sons are only going to be home for maybe five to seven years more before and I don’t want to miss that,” she says. “I’d rather have a busy work week than miss out on weekend family activities.

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