A recent study found that 67 percent of entrepreneurs eliminate their commute to get more work done and improve productivity. But of those surveyed, only five percent said higher productivity is the biggest benefit of working at home. Instead, the entrepreneurs noted that a flexible work schedule, more time with family, and no commute were the biggest benefits of working at home.
Of course, these conveniences are among many when working at home but as shown in the survey, higher productivity isn’t always the top priority or benefit — and that can be a problem.
As an entrepreneur, you likely determine your day-to-day schedule and workload. You may create deadlines to meet and plan when to finish certain projects, but there’s no boss looking over your shoulder in the process, ensuring you get your work done. It’s up to you to stay on task and to finish projects on time.
So how do you stay motivated while working at home and ensure you’re being productive and producing as much quality work as possible?
To help, we gathered eight pieces of advice for entrepreneurs who work at home. Integrate these tips into your daily work day and push yourself to be the most successful entrepreneur you can be, whether that be to expand your current business or to build a new company from scratch.
Create a Proper Workspace
Work performance is often affected by your environment, so consider creating a proper workspace at home. Laying on the couch with your laptop may be the most comfortable, but it likely isn’t going to warrant the same productivity and results as an actual workspace would.
Tips for creating a work-appropriate environment:
- Eliminate any distractions, such as TV, games, etc.
- Declutter the area by removing any unnecessary items that won’t contribute to your workday productivity.
- Personalize the space by adding a candle, including family photos, hanging up awards or other things that remind you of your successes, etc.
- Take advantage of natural light and consider choosing a room with windows for your workspace and placing your desk near a window for a better view.
- Include all necessary office supplies to avoid frequent runs to the supply store.
Typically when you work in an office, you have scheduled breaks throughout the day. When you’re working at home, on the other hand, you don’t have set breaks and it’s easy to get caught up in your daily tasks. The exciting yet stressful part about being an entrepreneur is there never seems to be an end to the work. But even though you’re at home rather than at an office building, it’s just as important to schedule a break and to give your mind a chance to recuperate. If you don’t, you easily run the risk of being a part of the 30% of the workforce that is considered to be a workoholic, and that can take a toll on you and negatively affect your business in the future.
Without breaks, you can become overwhelmed and exhausted, which isn’t going to do your productivity any favors. It varies for everyone, so be sure to figure out what type of breaks are the most helpful to you and which ones leave you feeling energized and motivated to get back to work.
For example, when you’re working at home, take a mini break after each big task you finish. Start the day by making a list of the most important tasks and work through the list one by one. Once you’ve finished one task, take a mini break to get a drink or a snack, check in with family, or take a brief walk around the block. Then when you come back to work, you’re energized and ready to begin the next task. It’s all about finding what works best for you.
Follow a To-Do List
When you’re the one creating your day-to-day schedule and itinerary, it can be difficult to stay on task. To be more productive and to ensure your work gets done, make a daily to-do list that maps out your entire day — the more detailed the better.
Another tip would be to organize your to-do list in order of importance. That way, if you don’t get to your entire to-do list that day, you’ll still be able to tackle the most important projects first.
In addition to a daily to-do list, it might also be helpful to make a long-term to-do list for your business. If you write down your goals and make this a part of your sustainability plan, you’ll be more up to date on your business and you’ll likely have fewer roadblocks in the process because you’ll be more prepared.
The average working hours per week for an entrepreneur is 66 hours. That may work for certain entrepreneurs, but that’s not a guarantee that that schedule will work for you. Some people can function great with that amount of hours and that may be what works best for them. However, that intense of a workload isn’t best for everyone. You may be someone who maxes out mentally at 55 hours per week — it just depends on the individual.
Find out where your sweet spot is and determine how many hours you can work each week while staying productive and not losing momentum. Don’t push yourself so hard and rush so quickly that the quality of your work suffers.
Purchase a Standing Desk
Sitting at a desk all day can get old, and it can definitely make you feel restless. To avoid this, consider purchasing a standing desk that can convert back into a sitting desk when necessary. Standing desks can help increase productivity levels by decreasing restlessness and minimizing distractions that stem from sitting in one position all day. It’s the little improvements that will make working at home that much more effective.
Keep Your Personal Life and Business Life Separate When Possible
Working at home can be great, especially because you’re close to your family. However, if you don’t keep your personal life separate from your business life when necessary, there may be too much overlap. For example, if your family is in the house when you’re working at home and you’re constantly interrupted, this could negatively affect your work and your overall business. Try to keep a balance. In this situation, you could explain to your family that even though you’re physically at home, your mind is at work and it’s best if they only interrupt you if it’s absolutely necessary.
Although there are always exceptions and personal and business life will inevitably merge, you can still try to separate the two when necessary to make sure that your personal life, as well as your business life, do not suffer because of the other.
Dress in Business Attire
Dressing professional has the ability to increase work productivity. Even though you’re working at home, you may consider dressing more professionally to get your brain in the work mindset. Staying in your pajamas when working at home is comfortable and convenient, but it doesn’t always elicit positive work results.
Schedule Meetings with Colleagues
Working at home can be very isolating, so expanding your network and staying social can benefit your business and you as an individual. Networking is also a great word of mouth technique that can get your business out there for more eyes to see. Consider scheduling meetings with colleagues or thought leaders in your industry. Switching up your workday frequently and attending these business meetings could not only increase your productivity but also give you more ideas and support for your business.
McCall Robison is the Chief Editor of Best Company’s business blog. She enjoys covering topics related to business and finance, and her work has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Forbes, and Business Insider.