At AJ Printing & Graphics and Wine Country Signs (WCS) we are always inspired to write about our industry, but also the ailments and challenges faced by our customers. This topic is something that our graphic designers, freelance marketing professionals and pretty much anyone who is in the business world has struggled with: keeping focused while working from home or a coffee shop. Heck, it’s hard enough keeping focused while at work. That’s why for this blog we are going to lend a helping hand with some tips for rocking your home study and keeping those clients happy.
For those that have had their share of freelance or sales jobs, we decided to survey everyone at the print shop and ask them to come up with tips for keeping focused while working from home. At AJ Printing & WCS, we have over 100 years of combined work experience, these 12 tips, should you choose to follow them, will turn your home sanctuary into a buzzing home office.
1. Set your alarm for a certain time and GET UP AT THAT TIME!
Most freelancers like to slowly wake up and while that is part of the joy of working from home, it can also get you wrapped up in a Maury marathon you never saw coming. Set a time to get up and a time to work, no exceptions, even if the laundry needs to be folded.
2. Shower and get out of your PJs.
To most this is a no-brainer when working outside the home, but for freelancers, wearing your comfiest while working is one of the perks of the job. But can sometimes also be their downfall. Changing out of your PJs can give you a refreshing start for the day and transition your sleep brain into work brain.
2. Define your space away from your home life.
We tend to get distracted with things that need to be done at home. Many freelancers rent out workspaces to avoid this, but if you have a desk and a private room (and some serious willpower) you can do it.
3. Don’t stop working if things get rough.
Take a break, tidy up your desk, or focus on another task, but just because you are having writer’s block or a lapse in creativity, you shouldn’t give up on the whole day.
4. Schedule your work around the hours you work best.
Someone once heard that most writers are better in the morning before lunch (no source given), but if you work better at night or in the afternoons, notice that, and work during those hours (this is the best part of your job)! Also, set deadlines for certain work like “filing for Thursdays” or “no-email Wednesdays” so you can get caught up on other things. This leaves your week feeling accomplished and allows you to finally walk away for an uninterrupted weekend.
5. Be selective of what music you listen to while you work.
Some music can be distracting. When writing, I know that I have to have it silent or I focus too much on the words and can lose my flow. Other music influences my mood and can make me feel less motivated. Just know what works for you because sometimes it is hard to get out of the Fiona Apple funk.
6. Know when to stop.
Make a list of all the things you want to get done that day and set a timeline (realistic of course), taking breaks between. Usually people do not work a full 8 hours, so work in blocks and stop when you are tired, as hard as that sounds.
7. Track Your Time.
Using an online time tracking system like Time Log can help keep you organized while keeping on task. This program keeps projects out of your way and off your mind once they are finished. Then at the end of the week you can look at your summary and adjust based on what your results are, balancing the time you spend on each project as well as your work-life and fun-life balance.
8. Splurge on a comfortable chair.
I remember as a college student sitting at my dining room table doing my homework and eventually quitting before I was done because my back hurt (and neck and head, etc.). Investing in a chair is well worth it, as this little thing can make a huge impact on your productivity.
10. Close the door and keep your boundaries.
This is especially important when you have a family that is home during your work time. Make it clear to everyone what time you are working with no exceptions, because we all know making that physical space is important.
11. Keep three lists of three.
This is something suggested by our owner Dan that we thought had to be on the list. Start your day with three things you will get done today, three things you want to get done today but aren’t deadline worthy, and three things that need to get done during the week. This way you have some realistic goals but if you get finished early you aren’t stuck perusing the internet. Asana is a great application to use in order to keep organized, detail your project and share updates with clients or colleagues. Try and keep your lists organized and online so if you lose a piece of paper, you won't have a bad day.
12. Set times to go online.
We all get distracted by the breaking MSN story about Kate Hudson’s new beau (okay not everyone, but you get it). Make sure to turn off the internet if it’s not essential to your task and use allotted times during the day to go online so you are not constantly interrupted. Harder said than done, we know.
Finally, relish the fact that you are in the small percentage of the population that is extremely lucky to be working from home! You could be in a cubicle breathing Susie’s pasta lunch, but instead you get to work your own hours at your humble abode and we know millions are certainly jealous!