I graduated college in May 2019 and transitioned into full time photography after juggling full time photography and full time school for four years. Although I’ve worked full time from my home for almost an entire year, I am no expert. I need to re-learn these tips & tricks just like everyone else. Over the past year, I’ve learned some things from my most productive days and even more from my least productive days. Hopefully a few of these will help your days be productive (even if you’re not someone who’s always dreamed of working from home their entire life).
This is probably the most important one. Working from home gives you a lot of freedom, but it comes with a lot of self responsibility. Staying up late is your worst enemy. You’ll either be tired or sleep in…and neither of those aid in productivity. Go to sleep on time so that you’ll wake up rested and ready to start your day. The earlier you start the earlier you finish.
Every Sunday night I sit down and write down my to-do list for each day of the week. At the end of each work day I look at the next and adjust the list as needed. I work Monday – Thursday in the office and take Friday’s off sicne I usually have a photoshoot on Saturday. Because of this, I try to designate Monday – Tuesday to business things (like fulfilling product orders) and Wednesday – Thursday to editing.
Most people only really do 4 hour of real work during a work day. This means work that you’re not checking social media, talking to co-workers, or check your email for the 500th time to avoid whatever you should be doing. You have a limited amount of time in your attention span before you begin to drift off. This is why people who work from home actually have better odds of being more productive since they’re not required to work from 8am-5pm. Each day I only have 3 things that I have set as my priorities for that specific day. If I get around to a 4th or 5th, great! If not, I’m not bummed at the end of the day because I had a to-do list that was too long to begin with. Be realistic with your expectations and make sure you’re doing the things you’re spending your time on well.
I use Notion for my to-do lists and to keep track of the progress of all my projects and couldn’t recommend it more.
Prioritize Your Mornings
“Not all hours are suitable for all things.” – Laura Vanderkam
If you’re going to sleep on time, odds are you are waking up rested. Studies show that in the morning you’re more likely to do your best work. Work that you’re dreading should be done in the mornings. Work that takes up more brain power should be done in the morning and finished earlier in the day rather than later in the day.
If you usually work in an office, use the time you’d usually spend commuting on something you always wished you had time for.
Here are a few ideas:
- Clean the house before the kids wake up
- Make breakfast
- Go for a jog/workout
- Go for a morning walk
- Drink coffee with your spouse
- Catch up on emails as you sip on your coffee
I highly recommend the book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
Schedule Your Days By The Hour
When I’m doing really well, I can tell you what I did on a certain day by the hour. Before you think this is super intense, it’s really not. I know roughly from 7am-8am I’ll be reading or running if it’s a really good day, 8am-9am I’ll be answering emails, from 9am-12pm I’ll be editing wedding images, from 12pm-12:30pm I’ll be on break, and 1:00pm-3:00pm I’ll be working on business projects. After that I’m either done for the day or keep on working if I feel like it.
Having a game plan for the day will really help. Remember, studies show you’re only going to be really productive for 4 or 5 hours. What are you going to do with those 4 hours?
20 Minute Walks or Workout
Take a break. Get up and take a quick walk around the block. This will essentially be like hitting the re-fresh button before you tackle the next thing on your list.
Take Advantage of Your Freedom
For some of you, this will be the only time in your life that you’re going to work from home. Use the opportunity to learn a new skill. You can even schedule your day so that you create more free time for yourself that you’re never going to get again. Learn to bake bread, workout, read that book you’ve been meaning to do, or do a puzzle with your family. Don’t forget to take advantage of this strange, but potentially sweet season. If you hate working from home, work on seeing the benefits of it. It can be hard, but it can also be really freeing.
Give Yourself Some Grace
At the end of the day, nobody is perfect. There are so many distractions when you’re working from home and life happens. If you didn’t do well one day, learn from it and do better the next day. Working from home can be really great if you do it right, just remember than nobody is perfect.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you make the most of this time we’re all living through!