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Six Steps to Boosting Productivity When Working from Home

I quit my job. In this economy, I quit my job. I am now running a successful business from my home—mostly my couch. What I quickly learned is there is a difference between “working” and working.

Fiddling around on the Internet for hours at a time can look like work “I’m on the computer! I’m ‘working!’” but actually producing work, i.e. things that build the business to bring in customers and money—that takes more than reading the latest gossip blogs.

I’m big on lists—last month I created a list called “What I need to be successful working from home aka Personal Prescription for Prosperity.” It was revolutionary. When I got clear on my specific needs and started following my own personalized recipe for success, I saw a major boost in productivity! My free time doubled. I’m producing more content, faster! I am paying attention to how I schedule my days, use my breaks, have more fun, and am spending more time in my personal life not stressing out or worrying about my business.

Here’s a six-step process for you to create your own Personalized Prescription for Prosperity! Because one of the biggest benefits to working from home is doing it your own way, am I right?

What does my ideal morning routine look like?
The transition from “sleepy person” to “functioning professional” at home is an important one. I was losing a lot of time on this one. I would spend time browsing the Internet before my brain was fully awake—which prolonged the wake up process AND I was missing critical information that I was reading with 30 percent retention with my sleepy morning brain. I found that I was mushy for ninety minutes to two hours after waking up—that’s way too long!

Here’s what I discovered about my morning needs:

I need caffeine. Plain and simple. Strong tea or coffee; it’s part of my wake up process. I now have a ready supply of both at home, and a timer set on my coffee maker.

I love reading articles on the Internet before I get down to business. I now do this with my coffee, from anywhere but my bed. I spend about forty-five minutes in the morning enjoying my coffee, waking up, and absorbing the latest news and business building blog updates. I’ve already cut my mushy unproductive morning time in half!

What does my body need to be focused and successful?
Again, for me it starts with a jolt of caffeine. Maybe you are more into juices, or water, or hot tea. Whatever it is, stock your home with it. My body also needs movement. Instead of randomly playing with my dog sometime during the day, I take him for a walk before 11 a.m. This gets me out of the house (read: dressed!) and moving before I become a statue on my couch. It also makes my dog happy. Weekly yoga and regular gym visits also help me meet this goal. It’s great to remind myself of that when I do not want to go to the gym. “Oh yeah, this is great for my business!”

I also need time off! I schedule lots of breaks in my day—knowing there’s a break on the horizon helps keep me focused and not feel guilty when I’m checking in with those gossip blogs. It also gives my brain space to process whatever I’ve been learning or working on. Some things take time, and it’s great to have that time to let my brain be free and process. Knowing I’m creating and prioritizing that time frees me up to go deeper in my learning.

What kind of food and snacks nourish your body?
Organic trail mix? Fresh fruits and veggies? Yogurt and granola? Sausage and eggs? Whatever works for you, stock your cabinets. I find the quickest way to an unproductive tailspin is not eating enough, or the right foods.

It’s easy to get sucked into a project and forget to eat until 4 p.m., especially if you’re home alone with no one to remind you to eat. You must take care of yourself. You are precious cargo, and the only one who can do what you do. Fuel yourself accordingly. (Bonus tip: Calendar time to go grocery shopping during the weekdays. Less people and you’re making time for it on your busy calendar!)

What structure do you have for capturing goals and deliverables?
How do you capture what you want to do? How do you know when you’ve accomplished it? There are SO many great calendaring systems out there—traditional and creative—there’s no reason to not have one that works perfectly for you. Check out Productive Flourishing, they have some great free, creative planners.

I am a big fan of Google calendars—not just for deliverables, but for everything. Lay out your life—put your family time, your gym time, your work appointments, etc. Color code them—not by activity, but by impact. “Friends and Family” might be one color because they are more social (and potentially draining), “Business Building” could be another, “Personal Time” another color. Once it’s mapped out—look for patterns. Where are you way too busy with one color, and devoid of another? This helps you see the greater work/life balance, and support yourself when you need it most.

How have you set up your workspace? How do you put it away?  
This is huge. How do you work? What do you need to be successful? How do you transition from “productive business owner” to “relaxing at home” when the backdrop is the same—your house!

Change the backdrop on your email. We spend SO much time here—let’s make it as relaxing and inviting as possible. When I started working at home full-time, my email usage skyrocketed, and the orange and red firework pattern stressed me out. I changed it to lush green trees, and I’ve felt calmer about email ever since. This translates in to speedier replies from me and less time avoiding the inbox.

I have a box of my “office supplies” that I take out and put away at the end of each work day. It helps me to set the stage for working as well as relaxing after a hard day at work. Get a box or basket that’s fun and easy to work with—nothing too cumbersome or small. Decorate it if that feels right to you. If you’re lucky, you’ve got an office room at home—but if you’re still squatting at the kitchen table, this will help you feel official, and then done for the day.

Pay attention to your ergonomic set up until you get that dream office space; this needs to be sustainable. Protect your wrists and your back.

What else?
You know what else you need—what’s not on the list? Add it! It’s all about YOU.

Make your Personalized Prescription for Prosperity!
Post it somewhere that you’ll see every day. It’s a daily reminder of what you, specifically YOU, need to be successful and prosperous. Everyone is different, write your own rules! It might take a few weeks of noticing what works and what doesn’t, but stick with it and pay attention. You’re in control, you’re in charge, make it work for you—just like your business.

Let us know how it went—leave a comment below with how this article impacted your work from home. We’d love to learn from you and celebrate your success!