Here are a few tips for staying productive that I have found work well for me, mostly because they work with my nature, instead of against it!
- Work comfortably. While most tips for work-at-homers suggest that a dedicated workspace -- an office and a desk -- will encourage you to treat it more like a real job, why would you want to do that? After all, if you wanted a "real" job, you would most likely have one, correct? On the contrary, I am one of those people who does my best writing when I am comfortable. Therefore, I have a laptop so that I can work wherever the mood takes me. Sometimes that is in my office chair, but other times that might be on the couch or in my favorite chair, or even in bed. I still get distracted, but almost without fail, I find that my best periods of productivity are when I am comfortable -- only then can I forget my surroundings and immerse myself in my work!
- Dress for work. You've probably read that if you work at home, you should still get dressed for work in the morning, just as you would for a "real" job. Usually, when they say this, the well-meaning advice givers mean for you to wear a suit, or at the very least business casual. I do find that getting dressed before I get to work helps (as opposed to rolling out of bed and padding into my office in my PJs), but I don't think you have to get dressed up. Instead, I have found that putting on jeans, or even a comfortable pair of sweats and a T-shirt, signfies to my brain that it's time to begin my day just as well as a suit or slacks might to someone more traditionally-minded. Not that I have anything against pajamas -- I have done some of my best work in them, as well -- but if you need a reminder that it's time to work, I think the act of getting dressed is more important than what you put on!
- Go places. Traditional wisdom says that working in a place that you always associate with work will help you to stay on task. Unfortunately, I've found that continuing to try to work in a place where I am constantly distracted is like repeatedly beating my head against a brick wall. Instead, I've found that a change of scenery sometimes gets me away from the distractions and refreshes my willpower. That change of scenery might be as simple as taking my laptop into a different room (or even out onto the patio), or perhaps even heading over to Starbucks or my local library to work. Although the naysayers might claim that a coffee shop would be more distracting, I've often found that it can help break me out of my funk and get back on task!
Remember, most of us love to work from home for a reason -- we are better at that kind of work than the traditional office or workplace, so there is nothing to be ashamed of if you work better when laying on your stomach in bed, wearing sweats, or sipping coffee at the local Starbucks. What counterintuitive or nontraditional tips do you find help you be more productive when you work from home?