As most of the world continues into 2021 with their staff working from home, I know it will continue to be commonplace for so many of us. As a creative-minded person, it was extremely difficult training my brain into work mode while I was still at home. I would constantly get distracted and fall off-course.
Plus, it can be so hard to be inspired with the lack of travel, lack of human interaction and grieving the loss of so much. After focusing on my home office space (check out my blog post on my home office design!), I had to create better habits to keep productivity high & to deliver on the design experience for my clients.
Over these past nine-months, these are my tried & true WFH tips for creatives that have helped me stay productive:
1. Find a dedicated place in your home to work.
While this isn't a revolutionary idea, I can't tell you what a different it made having a space, where I could close the door, and truly tap into work. Even if you don't have that option, just keeping a corner or nook where it's just focused on your creative work will help tremendously. Rather than taking that laptop and sitting on my couch, I look forward to sitting at my desk with my notepad and starting my day.
2. Only work when you're most productive.
I'm just not a morning person. I'll admit it with no shame! Early for me is 9AM and that's okay. I'm most productive during the mid-morning, late afternoon and the evening. It's natural to have the 2PM slump - I know it all too well. So, I decided to embrace it! I capitalize on my most productive periods of time (10AM - 1PM & 3PM - 8PM) and get the rest of my daily tasks done during the 1-3PM block, like catching up on personal messages, laundry and grocery shopping. Find out your most productive times and if you have the luxury to embrace them as a freelancer or business owner, do it!
3. Play music to match what you're working on.
Music is one of the keys to my creative success. If I'm designing an after-party for a client, I need something upbeat & fun to put me in the mindset of that event. Or if I'm working on e-mails, I may need something more subdued to keep my focus on the details. And change up your playlists! I've been in music ruts before where I literally listen to only 2006 hits for weeks on end, but a music rut can put you in a creative rut, too! So, switch to something new - maybe up & coming artists or a totally different genre to get those creative juices flowing.
4. Block out your time each week.
As a planner, it only makes sense that I have to plan my day. While I don't stick to a strict schedule minute-by-minute in a work day (I save that for the wedding day!), I block out my time for emails, for content creation, for Zoom calls or phone calls, and for design time. This helps me tremendously when my mind starts to inevitably wonder to another to-do. I always can come back to that block schedule. I try to schedule this time on a weekly basis. That way I have a pretty good handle on my goals for the upcoming week & any standing meetings to block out. Make sure to block time for brain breaks or to check your phone - it's going to happen anyway, so might as well plan for it!
5. Schedule your emails.
This is a true lifesaver! If you're a night owl like me (or if you have an irregular sleep schedule like many new moms & dads!), then this is a habit to pick up. You can easily draft emails at any time of the night, but schedule them to send promptly at 8AM the next morning. So, you're able to keep the boundaries with your clients or coworkers by not emailing them at all hours, but still being productive on the timeline that works best for your situation. This is also great over weekends! If I'm not producing an event over a weekend, I may find myself with a case of the 'Sunday Scaries'. This is a great way to get a few things off your mind/plate during odd times! I've linked the instructions from Gmail here, so schedule away!
I hope these tips will help you feel ready to take on the rest of whatever 2021 is going to throw at us! Let me know if you swear by any of your own WFH tips - I'm all ears!
Off to bed, because as you now know/can guess based on #2, it's 12:26AM.