Being productive can feel a bit difficult when you’re working from home, or on an entirely unstructured schedule. When you’re in college, you’ve got classes and the like that give you a sense of structure; when you’re working a typical 9-5 job, you’ve got that structuring your days for you. However, when you’re working from home or on some sort of break, any sense of structure goes out the window – and sometimes it can feel like your productivity levels go with it.
But if you’re on one of these unstructured schedules and still want to #getsh*tdone, this is the post for you. I’m sharing some of my biggest tips for how I’ve been working at home for the past 2 weeks and still finished each day feeling accomplished.
Create your master to-do list
If you’re anything like me, there’s always things that need to get done, even when you’re not actively in work/school. So I’ve always got this massive running to-do list. It exists in multiple iterations – the reminders app on my phone/laptop, my bullet journal, and occasionally somewhere in my notes/an actual notebook. Right now, I’m working on a number of projects (including some exciting things for the blog!), so those are the big items on my to-do list.
Break it down into parts
Take your big tasks and turn them into the stepping stones required to accomplish them. If you’re trying to reorganize your apartment, break it into parts of the space, like your makeup drawer, kitchen cabinets, and desk. If you’re redesigning your website, break it down into individual tasks, like creating the new designs, updating the text, writing the code, etc. Turning big tasks into smaller, more tangible ones will get you to this next step.
Set yourself time-sensitive goals
This is the big one. When you’re working at home, you don’t have as much pressure to get things done in a timely manner – especially if you’re working for yourself. It’s really easy to spend 8 hours of your day in a YouTube/Netflix spiral, but giving yourself some structure in the form of time-sensitive goals can help with that. Remember that running to-do list I talked about? Turn it into a schedule. My favorite way to do this is with the reminders app on my phone; I can literally set myself deadlines for all my tasks – I want this post written by 11 a.m., I want this video edited by 10 p.m., and so on. The really great thing about doing this with the reminders app is that it will put a notification on your home screen at the deadline that won’t go away until you check off the task – so if you’re like me and can’t stand those notifications, you’ve got incentive to get the task accomplished by the deadline.
Make a dedicated workspace
Yeah, working from your bed is fun. Truth be told, I’m writing this post while sitting in bed. But sometimes, you need a space that’s specifically dedicated for getting work done, that allows you to really get in the zone. In my apartment, I’ve got my little butterfly chair and the laptop table that I keep next to it – when I’m sitting there, I’m getting things done. That mental association will really help you stay on task and on top of things, even when you’re technically in the same space you sleep/eat/watch TV in.
Change up the scenery
Sometimes, the ‘dedicated workspace’ just isn’t enough. If you’re starting to feel a bit hermit-like by being holed up in your own apartment all day, get out. Go sit at a coffee shop or café and get work done there. It’s amazing how the ambient noise and movement of a public place can rejuvenate you and recenter your focus. This is also brilliant if you frequently fall victim to the infamous afternoon slump, and need to physically get out of the house to avoid falling asleep at your desk. Bonus: you can counteract the sleepiness with caffeine!
Punctuate your days
The biggest ‘working from home’ tip I’ve got is that you should treat it like a normal workday. While working in pajamas is super appealing, you’re going to feel so much more productive if you at least put on something different (changing from PJs to leggings and a sweatshirt is still fair game – it’s all about that mental association, are we seeing a theme here?). Give yourself something to do in the middle of the day; I like to work for a few hours, go to the gym, then get back to work for a few more hours before making dinner. It keeps the day moving instead of being this amorphous blob of 16 hours of potential working time.
If you’ve got the opportunity to work from home – whether for your job, or because you’re on break from school, or for some other reason entirely – hopefully these tips are useful in helping you stay on top of things even without the structure you’re used to!