— January 14, 2019
When I first started working from home I was super excited. I spent the last year working 60-70 hours per week between my full-time job and side business.
I figured if I was able to become successful and profitable with only part-time hours, I’d have a much better work-life balance once I quit my job to work for myself. I thought I’d have more time to work out, clean up, and practice self-care.
Little did I know, working from home brought a slew of distractions and actually killed my productivity during the first few months. If you’re considering working from home, you need to set realistic expectations. Here are some ways it can ruin your productivity and how to fix it.
Work From Home Productivity Failures and Hacks to Fix Them
No Set Schedule
While working for yourself can be very freeing, you can also experience too much freedom when it comes to managing your schedule. One of the major downsides of working remotely is not having a strict schedule to abide by.
Sure, if you run your own business you can sleep in late or meet your friend to a 2-hour lunch but you will have to make up for lost time later. This could mean working late into the night or on weekends just to hit deadlines.
Also, let’s say you already get a decent amount of work done during the day. Since you work from home, you may be tempted to start working again during the evening to catch up. Before you know it, you’re back to working just as many hours as you did when you were juggling your full-time job and your business.
You also run the risk of overworking yourself and getting burnt out.
How to fix it: Successful business thrive on routines and schedules – so do hum beings. This is why it’s best to lay out a specific work schedule that you can follow each day. Decide on the best time to start work for the day and stick to it. Prioritize this schedule and almost pretend like you do need to clock in on time so that you can get all your work done and stay productive.
Don’t get me wrong, there are distractions in the workplace, but the distractions you’ll face when you work from home can be quite offputting. From social media and desktop notifications and YouTube to your dog whining to be taken outside and the Amazon delivery person ringing your doorbell, you can face countless distractions on any given day while working from home.
How to fix it: Be very intention in cutting out distractions and preventing yourself from falling victim to them. The average person doing computer work often gets distracted every two minutes and it takes twice as long for them to regain focus and begin to work on the task at hand. Don’t let that be you. Turn your phone on airplane mode when you start working for the day or mute notifications.
Eat a healthy and filling breakfast so you won’t run back to the kitchen constantly. Set up designated times to check social media throughout the day and block distracting sites during peak productivity times in your schedule. Finally, don’t schedule meetings, deliveries, or visits from neighbors or friends during the hours when you plan to be heavily focused on knocking out your daily work tasks.
Lack of Clear Priorities
Have you ever felt like you were just spinning your wheels sometimes and had no idea which tasks to work on during the day? When you start working for yourself at home, these feelings will be even more frequent.
The thing is, you are not only responsible for doing work and getting certain results, but you also need to narrow down priorities and structure your workflow.
In the traditional workforce, your boss or supervisor often structures the work day and decided what you will do and when. Having no clear focus for the day or week can slow you down or cause you to fail at meeting certain goals.
How to fix it: In order to fix this work from home productivity issues, you’ll need to turn into the manager/supervisor and narrow down your priorities. It’s best to set specific goals at the beginning of each month. Determine the action steps you need to take to reach these goals, then rank them in order of importance.
Also, consider the time you have to work on certain tasks and projects. I’d recommend using Clockify which is a free time-tracker program to help you determine how long it takes you to complete various tasks. Ultimately, this should help you develop a clear structure and priorities for your day so you know what to do and when.
Lack of Boundaries
When you work from home, it becomes so easy to blur the lines between working on your business and being ‘off work’ to enjoy your home, your family, and to practice self-care. I too, still get tempted to check emails on weekends or do one quick task after I’ve already put work away for the day. You may see these habits as harmless but they can actually cause you to burn out before your work day or work week even starts.
While you may not give yourself boundaries, you may have also failed to assign boundaries with family and friends. When I first started working from home, I found it frustrating that some family members would call me and ask for favors or for me to run errands during my work time. It was super distracting and sometimes, I even felt guilted into complying.
How to fix it: Get more strict with the type of projects you accept and add to your schedule. Give yourself a single off day to focus on self-care if you can’t commit to taking the entire weekend off at this time. Trust me, it won’t cause your business to tank. Also, be realistic with family and friends about your schedule and availability. Don’t set expectations that you can work whenever and will jump at their requests. Be honest but gracious about it while still being strict about the boundaries you set.
At the end of the day, working from home can be wonderful for growing your business and improving your work-life balance. That is so long as you can avoid these common work from home productivity failures.
Have you ever considered working from home or do you already do so? What are your favorite work-from-home productivity hacks?