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The whole concept of being a freelancer or even being your own boss might sound fantastic until you realize that staying productive isn’t that easy while working from home. And since productivity equals getting paid…

Forget all those non-realistic girl boss movies or even articles about how easy it is to earn money from the comfort of your own sofa. Because I’m going to go ahead and say, you only need a few days of work at home to realize that it’s not that glamorous after all.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

I have my own share of experiences of working or studying while being at home, while travelling or even while being on a holiday. There were days when I had a spur of motivation and managed to conquer long lists of tasks. Then there were days when tv shows and movies made themselves priorities and I didn’t do a single task that I had pre-planned the day before.

Home is where all the distractions are, there is no one to supervise you and your comfortable bed is a couple meters from you. It’s natural to feel the urge to relax and do more fun things at home. After all, home is supposed to be your safe space. This is where you sleep, eat and unwind.

Unfortunately, that is the major problem for all of us, fellow workers from home. How does one feel productive and motivated to work when the whole environment is basically made for the exact opposite reason? The answer is discipline.

Now I know that you might be thinking: ‘what if I don’t have an underlying discipline?’. Well, my friend, I don’t have one either but that doesn’t mean that you can’t grow one.

So that being said, I wanted to share with you a few simple tips or more like habits that you should nurture in order to grow a bit of discipline for yourself and improve your overall productivity when it comes to working from home.

I can assure you that none of these tips will involve getting up at 5 a.m. or dressing up in your best outfit for you to simply spend the whole day sitting in front of your computer (unless that’s what works for you, in that case, go for it!). The following approaches helped me get back on my track after my semester abroad and I simply wanted to share them with you. Maybe this will help some of you as well.

Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Know what is your Tendency

This is crucial when it comes to any type of work but somehow many articles on productivity skip this step completely. If you don’t know that type of person you are when it comes to work, how can you plan your work schedule and expect to get the best results?

I came across this video by Michelle (subscribe to her, she’s amazing, by the way) in which she shared Gretchen’s quiz on Four Tendencies of people and how they work. This quiz only takes a few minutes but it was a huge revelation to me. Basically, you answer some questions about your habits and then it determines what is your Tendency: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel. In the results, you can see not only what type you are but also get a short description of it and some useful tips that help your type work more efficiently.

I got Obliger and it means that I’m the type of person who needs someone to account for in order to be productive. I am not going to lie, deep inside I probably knew that I suck at working for myself but this quiz helped me actually acknowledge it. I always do my best and perform the best when I have a deadline or I have to give that work to someone but if it’s only me who I’m working for, I strive for procrastination.

So a simple quiz pointing out that to me was all it took to recognize this trait of mine and make some adjustments in my work process. Set aside a few minutes in your day and take this quiz (but only after reading the whole blog post!). Learn what type of worker you are and use that information when planning your work schedule.

2. Take notes on your energy levels and schedule accordingly

This is the reason why so many articles recommend waking up at very early hours and do the work then. While I do believe that the early bird gets the worm, it doesn’t apply to everyone. We are all people and we all perform differently. Some of us like to sleep in and stay longer, some of us like to get up early and go back to bed at 9 p.m. (this is basically me).

Since we all are so different, you can’t say to everyone that early hours equal productivity because there are people out there that work very well in the evenings but struggle in the mornings. For this reason, you need to spend a few days observing yourself and your energy levels.

I find myself writing best in the morning and editing photos or creating images in the afternoon. I also find that my energy is the lowest in the evening, so I try to keep all the work done until 6-7 p.m. Less attention required tasks go just before the lunch or right after the lunch because I feel either distracted by hunger or too sleepy to do anything major.

What time of the day do you feel the most energized? When you feel lower? Look back and think about it. This will help you decide which hours you need to dedicate to creative tasks that require your full attention and when is the best time to simply go through your inbox (less attention required tasks).

3. Eliminate distractions

If you are anything like me, you will get distracted by anything and everything. A simple notification on my phone can get me from writing a pitch email to scrolling through Instagram in a matter of 5 seconds. In order to get a bit of discipline in your working routine, you need to learn how to resist your urges (this sounds weird but bear with me).

If you know that you won’t be able to resist to check your phone, put it far away from your reach. People are lazy in nature, it is less likely that you’ll check it if it’s not in reach of a hand. I usually put my phone in a different room than I am working in. You have no idea how much of a difference it made for me!

Turn off any notification pop-ups on your computer if you have any. Block that Facebook, Twitter or any other websites if you feel like you need to. Things like this go a long way, I’m telling you. It is a simple matter of learning what distracts you daily from completing tasks and eliminating them for the time being.

I usually work by my desk in my bedroom and sometimes I catch myself looking at my bed dreamily thinking how lovely it would be to watch another episode of The Good Place. Naturally, I can’t just go and move my bed out of the room so I wouldn’t be distracted. So the next best thing I can do is simply gather my work equipment and go to another room to continue my work, usually the kitchen. Distraction eliminated and a change of environment is always a good trick to stimulate your brain for a more productive workflow.

And that is literally all you need! I do believe that the key to leading a more productive day is simply having discipline and knowing yourself. All these 3 steps should help you learn more about your habits, weak spots and overall attitude about work. All you need to do is spend some time thinking, observing and then crafting a work schedule that work for YOU.

If you want to read more about productivity, check my previous blog posts:

What is the best work advice you have ever received?

How do you stay productive while working from home?