The question that I get asked most frequently about being a full-time blogger is “How do you get anything done working from home?” which is usually followed up with something like, “I am so unmotivated when I’m at home. If I were you, all I’d do is stay in my PJs, watch TV, and sleep.” When I worked outside of the home, I felt the same way. Because then, when I was at home, it meant I was off. Being at home meant relaxation, long showers, cozy naps, and watching my favorite TV shows. Even though I still spend time relaxing when I’m at home, I have had to make a mental shift: during the day, even though I’m physically at home, I’m really at work. Here’s how I’ve made that shift and how I stay motivated…
// I don’t sleep in
Just like any job, there are days when I desperately want to stay in bed or watch TV all day. But unless I’m sick, I always get up just like I would if I had to go into an office. Riley’s alarm goes off around 7:30am, when he heads into the bathroom to take a shower. I usually get up a few minutes later to start breakfast and pack him a lunch. While I’m preparing food, he always makes our bed. This is critical because it is a visual reminder to me that sleep time is over. (I love to sleep!) You can read more about our morning routine here. (I almost always sleep in on the weekends…it’s such a luxury to me!)
// I always get dressed
I always, always, always get dressed in the morning. (More about this here!) This is so important because when I’m wearing pajamas, I feel like I should be doing pajama things–lounging, sleeping, reading, watching TV, playing on my iPad, cuddling with Charley, etc. But when I’m wearing “real clothes” (even if they’re leggings), I feel like I should be doing “real clothes” things–working, writing, responding to emails, grocery shopping, tidying up, etc. You can not underestimate the strong correlation of how you look, how you feel, and what you do.
// I schedule out every day
Each night, before I go to bed, I schedule out the next day in my planner (which is an Emily Ley Simplified Planner). (A post is coming on how I use my planner specifically!) I include meals, chores, appointments, breaks, and work time. You may be surprised to see how much time I spend working on my blog everyday (and doing all the things that come with it, like responding to emails and comments)…every day I spend a minimum of five hours working, but usually it’s more like seven or eight. So, just like anyone else, I need breaks. So I schedule them! You can see what my schedule looked like on Tuesday below.
A lot of times my breaks will be for lunch and then again after lunch to get some chores done around the house. Just standing up from my computer and moving is nice after sitting for hours each day! The beauty of working from home is that when I’m feeling super stuck or frustrated, I can get up and do something else. But those I-just-have-to-get-away-from-this-computer-now moments are pretty infrequent because I hold myself to a schedule.
Additionally, I schedule out my housework for the week on Sunday nights. This way, if I see I pile of laundry or notice a particularly dusty shelf, I can remind myself that I’m doing laundry on Tuesday and dusting on Thursday. In this way, I don’t have to expend mental energy on thinking about everything that I need to do. Because there’s a plan in place, I can focus on my task at hand, knowing that I’ll get to it later.
// I set goals and share them with my husband
Blogging isn’t just a hobby to keep me busy during the day. It’s also not the end-all-be-all of my goals and aspirations. Right now, the time and effort that I pour into this blog and community is providing an income and building a great foundation for some lifelong dreams (like being a published author). I have both qualitative and quantitative goals for my blog and career, both of which I share with Riley often. This helps to hold me accountable and empowers me create a plan. Sometimes I’ll tell Riley a goal of mine and he’ll help me reshape it to be more suitable or attainable or simply offer a different perspective. My goals are written down and I work towards them each day, just like I did when I worked in an office. I am very goal-oriented, so this is a big factor in keeping me motivated.
// I keep an editorial calendar
I always have a running list of post ideas (if you’d like to suggest one, you can do so here on my Facebook page), and every Sunday night, I plan out my week’s posts. This saves me so much time and mental energy during the week because I’m not brainstorming or jumping between my creative pot and my execution pot. I am able to think through post ideas when I plan them on Sunday, and then bring them to life throughout the week. For me, this way of planning ahead takes the guesswork and stress out of the creative process!
// I maintain a tidy home
There’s nothing less motivating or more distracting to me than a messy workspace. I absolutely cannot, will not get any work done if my home is a mess. I think this principle is why many people are so productive in their offices and at places like Starbucks or the library–because those places are always neat and tidy. I’ve always been a very tidy person, but since I’ve started working from home, my neat-nick tendencies have been fueled by more than just the desire for a relaxing environment. Now, I maintain a tidy home so that I can get work done!
There are, of course, days when shoes are scattered throughout our home, unfolded blankets are flung about, and random water cups litter every conceivable surface. To combat all of this from building up, my husband and I spend five or ten minutes tidying before we go to bed each night. We usually don’t discuss it, one of us just starts picking things up and reseting our home, and the other joins in.
// I work at my desk
I hear a lot of people who work from home brag, “I can work while I sit in my pajamas on the couch all day!” I’ve already explained that I do not, in fact, wear pajamas every day, and I will now explain why I don’t sit on the couch. Similar to how what I wear subconsciously dictates what I’ll do, where I am in my home also matters. If I’m in my bedroom, I’m relaxing, reading, or sleeping. If I’m in my kitchen, I am cooking or cleaning up. If I’m at my dining room table, I am eating. If I am on my couch, I am resting, relaxing, or watching TV. So, I work at my desk–because if I am sitting at my desk, I am working.
I keep my desk clean and clutter-free and have set up my printer, planner, notebook, and pens so that I can access them quickly throughout the day. My desk is a very happy place to work, and its simplicity is helpful when I’m writing.
(I know my featured image is of a girl working on her bed! 😉 Do as I say not as I picture!)
// I keep food in my kitchen
There is nothing that de-motivates me faster than being hungry. I get hangry (hungry+angry) fast. When I grocery shop and meal plan, I always pick up some things that I can eat for lunch or snack on when I’m at home working. Things like soup, bagels, lunchmeat, fruit, veggies, and nuts are great go-to meals or snacks when I get hungry throughout the day. (I always keep some sweet things on hand too, like chocolate or gummy bears!)
By having food in the house, I stay focused on my work because I can easily hop up and grab something to munch on if I get hungry instead of daydreaming about driving to Panera Bread or Taco Casa.
// I unplug
The scariest part of working from home for me was not the fear of getting things done, but the fear of never unplugging. So, from the beginning of our marriage (which is when I began to work from home), I have made a point to turn off my computer (well, let it go to sleep) in the evening before Riley gets home.
I sometimes log back on after dinner to wrap up my post for the next day before we settle in for the evening, but that’s pretty unusual. If I’m on my computer at night, it’s because I’m doing fun things like online shopping or researching for our Disney trip, not because I’m working. Because of this, I end up maintaining a pretty normal workday from about 9am-5pm. The time I spend unplugged is absolutely critical to striking a healthy work/life balance and to nourishing my creativity.
// Do you work from home? How do you stay motivated?
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