In recent years, it has been growing trend amongst millennials to break off from the regular 9-5 routine and create a workspace within in their home, especially if you are an aspiring entrepreneurial girlboss! If you fit this description then you will probably agree when I say that the expectations of working from home are very different than the actual reality of it.
Some people are meant to work in their own environment and thrive when they are given the flexibility to develop their own working schedule. Others, like myself, are used to following a strict Monday to Friday routine and the lack of structure and stability can be tricky to get used too, but not impossible!
They key is to create a routine that best fits with your personal work ethic and also allows time for you to recharge and have a well-curated work-life balance. This means recognizing the times of day when you produce your best work and building your schedule around that.
As someone who was the queen of procrastination and pulling all-nighters to finish essays in university, it has certainly been challenging to find a schedule that maximizes my productivity and allows me to get the most out of my day when working from home. However, if you love what you do and are willing to put in the time and effort, then once you find the perfect balance everything else will fall into place!
Here are a few things that I have discovered while working from home that will enhance your productivity and allow you to be the successful lady boss you were always meant to be!
Set morning meetings:
Not a morning person? That’s ok! Setting up meetings first thing in the morning with clients or colleagues will give you a set reason to get out of bed and start your grind at a reasonable hour.
One of the things that most people think is a perk of working from home is getting to do your work in your PJs. While this may be true for some people, for most it tends to lead to a less productive mindset and subsequent work ethic. Make a sincere effort to get dressed and ready as though you were going to the office and you will feel refreshed and much more motivated to seize the day.
Create to-do lists:
It’s a well-known fact that your brain is much more likely to remember something if you write it down. Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than looking at all the things you’ve checked off your to-do list. Make a list on your phone or use an app, such as Evernote, to keep your lists and thoughts organized. Personally, I find I am more successful if I do it the old-fashioned way with a pen and note pad – but to each their own!
Track your time:
Including the time you spend perusing Facebook! This will help you when outlining your day-to-day schedule and allow you to keep track of how much time you are actually spending on work-related tasks. Knowing how long it will actually take you to complete a project, start to finish, is an important part of setting achievable goals and timelines for yourself, and is beneficial when taking on new projects or clients. Time-tracking tools, such as Freshbooks, are low on hassle and will help you keep track of your projects and manage your time effectively.
Get an agenda:
Again, this can be virtual or pen and ink (in my case, it tends to be some version of a Kate Spade-inspired hardcopy day timer that may or may not have cost me half a day’s worth of work). Either way, it’s important to have a calendar that you can use to lay out your days/weeks/months and prioritize each of your tasks accordingly.
Set breaks as rewards:
Working from home makes taking frequent breaks much more tempting than working in a traditional office setting (after all, who’s watching besides your semi-judgmental cat, who is probably sleeping anyways). Take breaks after you have actually accomplished a task so that they become more of a reward, rather than a way to procrastinate. This is also a good way to avoid the consequences of ‘boredom snacking’ – let’s be real, no one wants to gain back their freshman 15!
Working physical activity into your daily routine is an important part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Working out is also a great way to break up the day, get out of the house and keep your brain refreshed and alert to avoid getting burnt out. There are some great fitness studios around Calgary that offer condensed 40-minute classes during lunch time, encouraging a quick break that won’t take away from your working hours. Some of my favorites include Barre Body Studio, YYC Cycle, Junction 9 Yoga + Pilates, and Studio Revolution Fitness.
Work from multiple locations:
Sometimes staying in your home can be stifling, especially if you are a creative! Break up your day and join the rest of Calgary’s satellite workforce at a local coffee shop or bistro. A change of scenery can be motivating and the white noise can be mentally stimulating, especially if you are experiencing writer’s block or are having difficulty coming up with new ideas. As an added bonus, you’ll also have direct access to freshly prepared caffeinated beverages and comfort food (and you don’t even have to make them yourself). Some quaint local watering holes, great for planting your laptop and inspiring fresh thoughts, are Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar, Café Rosso, Phil & Sebastian, and new to the scene this year, Alforno Café & Bakery and Vintage Caffeine Co.
Hide all distractions:
This even includes your cell phone if you have the attention span of a small child, like myself – the exception being if you are working on something social media related and require your phone to work. Declutter and remove all potentially distracting items from your workspace and focus on inhabiting a space that is inspiring and encourages your creativity, keeping your ideas fresh and mind on the task at hand.
Network and (more importantly) interact with people – in person!
This is especially important if you are an extrovert and need human interaction to stay sane. Sign up for events, workshops and conferences – even book a coffee date or two! This will give you a good reason to leave the house, meet new people within the industry and, if you work for yourself, it may even help add to your client roster.
Enjoy the flexibility and stay inspired!
As creatives, we thrive when we are working in an engaging environment. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to follow a rigid 9-5 work schedule and enjoy the flexibility of your work pace. Take time to learn when and where you do your best work and take full advantage of your ability to tailor your work settings. This includes the flexibility you have to take a break and hit the reset button when you need to. Take a stroll through a museum, go for a bike ride by the river, catch up with friends, plan your next traveling adventure or take a class on something you know nothing about. If it inspires new ideas – do it!
♦ ♦ ♦
Kristy is a creative Communications and PR strategist, freelance writer, coffee enthusiast and wine connoisseur. She has a very strong passion for art, style and fashion, and loves collaborating with local creatives and #girlbosses around yyc!
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