Developing Habits to Boost Productivity for Working at Home

I have never felt more healthy in my life than right now, and I honestly attribute that to having a daily routine! I just came from a job where I would literally have to hide under our service counter with customers to scarf down as much toast as I could before I had a customer ask me for their 17th coffee refill. Before that I juggled 3 jobs in Billings where I always had time to eat and sit down, but I was running job to job along with volunteering in the afternoons. Before that, I don’t even want to start how little sleep I got in college. Sometimes I also wonder if I ever had a glass of water that whole time. I was in survival mode more than anything for these last years. I don’t wear my busyness as a badge of honor. When I started photography full time I wanted to strip everything down and SLOW DOWN! I quit my day job and woke up on my first Monday self employed looked around and said….now what? That is when I started working on my everyday routine. This advice is after three months of being an at home entrepreneur. I don’t excel at it everyday but I do feel the strain on my energy and creativity when I don’t do these things for myself. So let me walk you through my day in hopes that you will be able to pick up even just one thing that helps give you creativity back to your day!

My husband’s alarm goes off at 7 or 6 am every morning, then goes off 4 more times before he actually gets up. I don’t set alarms anymore, I just slowly wake up with him and if I need 20 more minutes of sleep I don’t stop myself from getting a little more energy for the day. I think getting up with Kyle every morning puts us on the same schedule for the day so that when he is headed off to bed I’m not staying up late to write more emails or edit just a few more pictures.

If you do not read anything else in this blog post all I ask is that you read this segment…

I do not touch my phone the second I wake up, and it has changed the entire outlook of my day. I used to check instagram the moment I woke up, as if something riveting happened over night since I checked it before I went to bed. I would wake up and scroll and scroll and scroll. I would start my morning instantly comparing myself to other photographers that were photographing in Hawaii and seemed like they were always on vacation. Then I would look around my 2 bedroom apartment and one client gallery I had to finish and think I’m never going to get there. Now I get up, make myself breakfast and coffee and open the windows to let beautiful morning light in. After that I just spend time focusing on what I want to get done that day, maybe stretch out, daydream a bit, write down in my journal all of the brilliant ideas I had in my sleep. It’s just so important to start your day thinking about what you can create and not what you can consume. I don’t care what you do truly! It’s just so good to wake up and have your own thoughts than jumping on your phone and comparing yourself to others right away.

The night before I write in my journal a list of things I want to focus on for the next day and what I need to get done. My mentor Tracy always told me to just pick 5 things that are a MUST that day. So you can give your full attention to them and do them well. If you have extra time then by all means try to tack on a little extra something. I even add my little extra something I got done that day that I didn’t plan for on the bottom of my list then cross it out right away just because it just feels so good to cross something off your list. Making my to do list the night before frees my mind from stressing out all night that I’m going to forget something tomorrow. It also lets you plan your day around what you need to get done instead of letting others.

When you are getting your tasks done for the day put your phone in the other room. If you are afraid of missing a call then turn the sound all the way up. But let’s be honest…how many times do you look at your phone because you are in dire need of it? Rarely ever. It slows down productivity! I had my phone on my desk just before I was writing this and I typed a sentence every 5 minutes because I kept getting updates flashing on my screen and felt like I just had to open them right away. I know social media is huge for my business but I don’t need to watch who is liking my stuff the moment it is posted. Don’t let your phone steal your productivity!

Plan for exercise and getting out of the house. If your eyes cannot stand to look at your computer screen any longer take a lap around your block without any distractions. Just take in some natural beauty! Bozeman is almost too distracting with it’s beauty! I always want to run around and never look at a computer screen. For a long time I would chain myself to my computer to prove to others that I was working all the time. And I was becoming so miserable! In the summer I decided I was going to go explore Bozeman’s walking trails everyday and my outlook was so much brighter on my workday! Also if you’re a photographer like me you can just tell people you are location scouting, and have so many locations to choose from when you are planning a shoot. In the winter I have a gym membership that offers small exercise classes. This has been a great way for me to meet new people and have a feeling of community in my everyday because let’s be honest it can be a little lonely sometimes being an at home entrepreneur.

That brings me to my next point, it’s so easy for at home entrepreneurs to get that feeling of loneliness and get a little too comfortable talking to ourselves if we are at home all day plugging along on all of our dreams and goals. We can watch all of the The Office episodes, but still it isn’t your office. You don’t get the water cooler talk and morning doughnut meetings. Again a lie I was telling myself was to prove to people that I’m successful by showing that I’m always working no matter what. But that is the best part about being your own boss! You get to choose your lifestyle and your daily schedule. I look at my calendar for the next week and try to set up at least three opportunities for myself to hang out with an old friend, meet up with someone who is also in my industry, or go to a business networking meeting!

Decide office hours for yourself. It is easy if you are running a business from home to never stop for the day. Mine is 4:30pm. When I close my laptop, wrap up my emails and texts with clients and shut my door to my home office for the day. You have to educate your clients or people you are working with about your hours of business. It would be as easy as “Hey I am almost done with my work day! So I will message you back bright and early tomorrow!” I used to have clients message me at 9 pm on a Friday night when I am out with friends having a drink asking about when they could schedule a session. Just message them back and say “Hey I am done with my work day at 4 pm Monday thru Friday and I will get back to you tomorrow morning at 8 am. I look forward to your session!”. Or you can get an automatic email that is sent straight to a client when they message you telling them “Hey its’s so great to hear from you! I cannot wait to read your inquiry! I will be back in the office at 8 am.” Just because you can have your business at your fingertips does not mean that you should let it rob you of your hang out time at home or time with loved ones and friends.

Give yourself days off! Just because your business computer is just right there in the other room doesn’t mean you have to get on everyday! I personally take Mondays off, because who wants to work Monday anyway? But also because I usually shoot a wedding on Saturday then spend Sunday editing a few for a sneak peek and driving home from the location. I wake up Monday morning and don’t step foot into my office all day. I do laundry, grocery shopping, run errands then celebrate by hoisting a beer with my friend Syd and then wake up Tuesday ready to bust out a ton of work Tuesday through Sunday again!

None of these points are earth-shattering, but they have changed my outlook on my whole work day. I have gained more confidence in what I am doing and haven’t become over-worked and stressed out. I hope you can find even just one piece of advice that will re-charge you to work from home! If you have any advice for others please leave a comment below of something that helps you work from home. And thank you for reading! Now go get some work done!

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