Teaching yourself how to stay motivated and productive is one of the best ways you can invest back into your business. But being able to stay motivated and productive while working from home (during a pandemic) is a whole other animal! I compiled this list of my top 10 habits you need in your life. These are not about productivity “hacks” but actual real habits you can sustainably integrate into your own life.
Now, don’t x out of this page I’m not about to quote Benjamin Franklin all, “the early bird gets the worm”. Waking up at the same time every day does not mean you have to wake up early in order for it to be on the list of your productivity habits. Truth is, you could wake up at 5 a.m. or 2 p.m., it really doesn’t matter that much so long as you wake up consistently at the same time. Nothing will goof up a WFH schedule and sap all motivation more than waking up at wildly different times each day!
For real. You thought I was going to say your “office” dog. Well they can be too, but making a list is invaluable. I could write a whole post about the top lists you should be making for your business because I write a list every. single. day.
I always put my top three priorities at the very top of the list. These are the things that I have to do that day and I tackle them first. From there I list down everything else that I would like to accomplish (sometimes knowing full well that I won’t actually get to them). Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, bored, or unmotivated, look at that list and play a super pump-you-up song to get yourself back on track.
If you’re also like me then you get super focused on a project and end up working through both lunch and dinner. This is not healthy for multiple reasons, but for the sake of productivity and sustainable habits, its terrible! I know it feels like you’re crushing it, but in reality you are causing yourself mental fatigue, missing out on potential efficiency speed, and possibly even amazing creative breakthroughs! You have to give yourself a break and some distance from a project in order to gain perspective again. I have a hard stop in my work day for two things: lunch and walking my dog. However, if I’m really feeling ambitious I’ll also carve a little time for some at-home yoga with my favorite: Adriene!
I heard someone say that you can tell how well-organized someone runs their business by the state of their desk. While I don’t agree with that completely, I do think that you will look forward to “going to work” everyday if you have a dedicated workspace that makes you feel happy. One of the perks of that WFH life is that if you want to work on the couch, you can work on your couch! If you want to work from bed (while I don’t recommend it) you still totally can! Heck, I’m not here to rob you of that joy! However, in order to help you implement good productivity habits and get that brain going, it is so helpful to have a dedicated “working zone”. Keep it tidy, light a candle, and you’ll be crushin’ your business goals in no time.
When I was kid, my mom would reward us during math homework with one skittle per correct answer. Let me tell you, did the temptation of sweet, sweet candy make me look forward to math lessons. While many years have passed since I’ve done math homework with my mom, the same motivation tactic still works! Nowadays, instead of skittles it’s an episode on netflix and a bubbly beverage. So, on the days when you really don’t feel like doing anything, set a timer for an hour. When that hour is up, get a fresh cup of coffee, reward yourself for a set amount of time, and do whatever you need to keep yourself motivated.
The apps on my phone are the biggest time sucks of my days. Especially because I open Facebook or Instagram for work purposes and then I end up scrolling down a rabbit hole. Am I the only one? One of my most effective productivity habits is putting my phone on airplane mode. From there, I let myself check it once per hour so I can stay on top of incoming messages without being constantly interrupted by notifications. One of the best things I’ve done is simply to flip my phone face down on my desk and only check on the hour. It forces me to stay focused and not start endlessly scrolling!
One of the biggest perks of WFH: setting your own schedule. Being able to choose how I spend my days doing what, where, and when is one of the things I love most. However, as I rapidly and painfully learned, not having a set schedule can be a huge responsibility to yourself and family. Without the familiar cue of 5 p.m. in an office, I struggled with unplugging from work and putting on my fun-time brain. Whatever your preferred working times may be, try to set regular hours for yourself to be “home from work”.
Listen, I used to be the queen of multi-tasking. Now I’m not proud of this, but I used to be able to walk, have a verbal conversation, and write an email on a different topic all at the same time. While multi-tasking can make you feel like you’re working twice as fast, it is actually a huge time and resource vacuum. The quality of work produced when multi-tasking is nowhere near that of what you produce when giving a project or person your full attention. So pick your top three priorities for each day and just knock them out one-by-one.
This one is so important. As a type 3, expectations are something that I seriously struggle with and can still cause huge frustrations for me. When my husband started working from home during the COVD-19 shutdown, I found myself getting so cranky and annoyed any time he would interrupt me from working. The problem was, he didn’t realize when I was working or that I took my working hours so seriously because was never home before and I never communicated them to him. How could I get frustrated at his interruptions when he didn’t even realize he was interrupting anything?
You also have to set expectations with yourself and how much you can really accomplish. Next, set expectations with those in your working space whether they be spouses or kids. Your work is just as important as anyone else’s regardless of whether or not you’re self-employed. Communicate what your working hours are and stick to them! If you tell your kids you’ll be ready to play at 4 p.m., then you know when to turn off the computer! If you don’t respect your boundaries around work then no one else will either.
There are many pros and cons to working from home. Working from home can be wonderful but it can also be messy. You don’t have the luxury of wasting time at your desk or having a “work life balance” when your bed is literally feet away from you. Some days you will crush it and accomplish unmeasurable amounts of tasks…other days you won’t. So give yourself grace and just show up with as much motivation as you can each day.
All of these habits are designed to be long-lasting technique you can integrate into your life for a long time. And while they may help make you more productive, they will more importantly make your work life balance calmer, in your control, and more enjoyable. But just remember – your productivity doesn’t define your worth. One more time for the people in the back….YOUR PRODUCTIVITY DOES NOT DEFINE YOUR WORTH!
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Liv in the Moment Photography is a Detroit wedding and boudoir photographer
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