As a WFH veteran, I have to say that I’m really enjoying seeing my friends adapt to working from home. You’re all worried about what you should wear, how often you should eat, if it’s okay to play with your pets.
I’ve worked in some of the most distracting settings in the world, including on the beach in Lisbon when I was 22. I’ve also managed to get my head down for 4-5 hours a day while on tour with my partner’s band.
Notice I said 4-5 hours per day? Here’s my first bit of advice: manage your expectations of productivity.
The work from home productivity myth
When you switch to freelancing, it’s time to free yourself from the 9-5 mentality. It’s such an archaic idea, it needs to fall into obscurity like fax machines and car phones.
Have you ever tried to track how productive you are on an 8 hour working day? Remember you also have to factor in shit like:
- Bathroom breaks
- Coffee/tea breaks
- Lunch breaks
- Smoking breaks
- Meetings that should have been emails
- Chatting to colleagues
- That quick catch up with your boss
- Fixing the printer
All of this time adds up. I used to track my time using RescueTime when I worked a full-time job. I was maxing out at around 5 hours of productive time per day. That’s a lot less than 7-8. And, somehow, I always got my job done.
So when you’re working from home and you have fewer of these distractions, don’t assume that you’ll be at peak efficiency.
Plan for productivity, prepare for distractions
At the start of every day, write a list of things you want to achieve. And make it realistic. We all want to power through work and feel like a machine, but this isn’t going to happen every day.
After a few weeks of making these daily targets, you’ll soon learn to gauge what is realistic, and it will get easier to make your lists.
And now that you don’t have to chat to Karen in the office kitchen, you’re freeing up a lot of time to focus on your actual job. Right?
Actually, no. Your office distractions will just morph into home distractions.
Maybe you have children or pets that demand your attention. Maybe you’ll be accepting Amazon parcels for your neighbours. Or maybe you’ll just get lost in the moment while enjoying a cup of tea in the garden.
Don’t try to control the entire day. Instead, focus on short bursts of productivity. The Pomodoro method is probably the best way to explain this. You work for 25 minutes, have a 5 minute break, and then repeat. You can’t protect your whole day, but you can protect 25 minute increments.
Get a decent chair. Your back with thank you for it!