How to stay productive when working from home

If you’re self-employed or starting a business, working from home can seem like an attractive option. There’s no need for lengthy commutes, you can keep costs low and work more flexibly. 

But working from home comes at a price because separation between business and free time can be harder to manage. To make it work and not suffer from lower productivity, take action early on to establish boundaries and a solid routine.

Planning is everything

Whatever line of work you’re in, planning is absolutely key to making home working really successful. And the great news is, it doesn’t take much to get it running smoothly.

1. Define your goals 

If you want to maximise your productivity at home you need to know what you’re aiming for. Take a moment to write down what your overall business goal is and then what goals you need to achieve to get there. For example, your goal might be to generate a six-figure turnover in the next year from building log cabins in domestic gardens. But to achieve it you need to revamp your website, get ten new clients each month or set up new supplier credit accounts. Reflect on what you want to do in your business to drive it forward.

2. Break them down into smaller tasks

Once you’ve defined your goals,break them down into all the smaller, manageable daily and weekly tasks. 

3. Diarise your tasks

This part is key to keeping your productivity up. There’s no point drawing up tasks if you don’t bother acting on them. But by sticking them in your diary each week, rather than simply writing a to-do list, you’ll be far more likely to get things done.

Now you’ve got your key tasks in the diary for a week, plan the rest of your days out in detail, even hour by hour if you can. Diarise everything – meals, workouts, school runs, rest time,  shopping, social events, work admin, etc. Do it nightly so you’re ready for the next day.

You may not always stick to the exact timetable, but the act of recording it in your diary means you’ll be far more likely to complete important work tasks, rather than procrastinating over the laundry pile.

More tips to fuel business efficiency

While planning your business tasks and personal life in detail are a fantastic way to keep you productive, there are other things you can do to run a successful business from home.

1. Get dressed

The temptation to stay in your pyjamas can be all too great but dressing casually doesn’t always promote a work mindset. Even if your daily commute involves moving from the kitchen to the living room, get dressed for work like you’re heading into the office. It creates a much more focused mindset and prepares you for the day ahead.

2. Set clear boundaries

If you’re working, you’re working. If you don’t have a separate workspace, let others in your house know when you have important meetings or you’d prefer not to be disturbed.

3. Make yourself uncontactable

Well, at least for a little while. If you need to work without distraction, turn off the phone, shut down instant messenger, hit ‘do not disturb’ on WhatsApp and stay away from social media

4. Offload as many admin tasks as you can

Taking care of the admin side of a business can be a time consuming task. However, there are plenty of services you can use which will take the slack for you. There are apps to automate your social media posts like Hootsuite, apps to manage your projects like Asana, and apps to automate your accounting and expenses like Countingup

5. Take regular breaks

Contrary to popular belief, working non-stop doesn’t make you more productive, it just exhausts you. This study found that even brief diversions from a task dramatically improved people’s ability to focus on that single task for a longer period.

6. Set an end point

Choose a time when you finish work for the day and stick to it. This can be flexible because an extra half an hour here or there is sometimes necessary, but don’t let work rule your life. 

Countingup is the all-in-one business current account and accounting app that’s helped over 34,000 business owners keep on top of their financial admin. With automated bookkeeping and instant invoices, you can focus on doing what you love. Find out more here.