Feel like you haven’t accomplished anything and it’s already 6 pm?
You wake up to an already full plate of tasks and it seems the list gets bigger and bigger as each hour inches by.
This is what happens to me. I’m a freelance writer and I work from home.
I have twin toddlers – a girl and boy – and every day it’s a toss up whether I’ll be able to fold that bucket of laundry that’s been sitting there for three days or if I’ll have a chance to schedule that eye exam I’ve been meaning to get done for the last month.
There just isn’t enough hours in the day to work AND run a house. I sometimes wish I could dupe myself and have two Elna’s running around.
While I can’t do that, I can put my energy into my productivity – or lack thereof.
I’ve been working from home for over a year now, and I’m finally finding my groove when it comes to maximizing my productivity. It’s not perfect, but it’s working for now.
I’ve developed a system to organize my work, which gives me time to be be more productive – believe it or not!
I can actually tackle my children’s closets or re-organize our kitchen pantry.
If you find it a struggle to get all your client work done and then get all your house chores done in a day, these tips that I’m about to share with you will multiply your productivity.
It did for me and I’m sure it will for you!
Let’s find out what these tips are.
1. Get Digitally Organized
Can I make a confession?
Until just recently, my desktop was the dumping ground for every image I downloaded, every free eBook or content upgrade I received and any forms I needed to save.
You know the saying about having a messy house equals having a messy mind (or something like that)? It’s the same with your laptop or computer.
Having a messy desktop just means you’re wasting time finding what you need. The best thing you can do is clean up your desktop and folders.
I have folders for each of my blogs. Inside I have folders for content upgrades, logo design, images, and anything else associated with that blog.
For my clients I have a master folder for clients and then each client has their own folder. Within their folder is a month then the content.
Not only is it a good idea to organize your digital files, but it’s probably a good idea to name your files the same.
For example: multiply-productivity.png
Using lower-case letters and using a dash in between words helps me find my files easier.
If your desktop is a mess, take an hour and clean it up. You’ll end up saving time for more important tasks.
2. Work Smarter (Not Harder)
I’m sure you’ve heard this right? But, do you really follow it? Do you find it takes you hours to create an image for your blog post? Or, it takes your two hours to write 1,000 words?
If so, you may not be working smarter. One thing I did to help me increase my productivity was practice my typing.
I started taking typing tests to help me improve my speed and accuracy. And it worked! I can easily type 1,000 words in under an hour.
Another thing I did was increase my rate as a freelance writer. My time is limited and if I was going to make a living doing this, I needed to make writing worthwhile.
When I first started, I’d say I was working for around $40/hour. Now, it’s easily $150+/hour.
Instead of working harder by slaving away writing for peanuts, I’m working smarter because now I’m being paid my worth as a writer.
One final thing I did to increase my productivity was to instill a “no email/social media” during client work.
Since a lot of the content I write requires research, screenshots, fact-checking and highly engaging copy, I need all my focus dedicated to writing.
Stopping to check my email or see what that notification is on my phone just stops my flow of writing.
It’s an easy thing to do, but a hard thing to follow. Especially if you are addicted to email and social media (which, I’m afraid I am. I’m an 80’s kid!).
3. Block Out Noise
My house is noisy.
Like super noisy. And just because it’s “nap time,” it doesn’t mean it’s always quiet.
The twins sleep in the same room and in different cribs. But, they talk to each other for a good 45 minutes before they fall asleep. Their room is right next to mine and I can hear them.
So, I had to block out the noise by listening to music on my headphones. And you know what? I found I was more focused, creative and was able to zip through my client work in no time.
And it’s not something that only works for me; studies have proven the effectiveness of using ambient music to spur creativeness.
I don’t listen to Adele or Beyoncé when I work. Instead I listen to instrumental music and currently I’m finding that Ludovico Einaudi’s album Divenire is my go-to music for creativity.
It’s on real low and for some reason I’m able to get more work done – and before I thought I’d need complete quite to work!
4. Delegate Your Work
Sometimes it’s okay to admit defeat.
The plan to get all your work done before your child woke up from their daily nap didn’t happen.
Or, the newsletter you write every week was late.
Things like this happen to me all the time. It isn’t detrimental to my business, but it slows me down and I end up working harder and not smarter.
That’s when delegating tasks or automating tasks is essential to helping you stay productive.
For me, if my children want to help “fold” the laundry, I’ll let them. They can put their own socks and undies away themselves or put the hand towels in the bathroom.
If my son wants to vacuum I’ll let him! He can use the stick-vac to pick up the crumbs from breakfast.
In my business, I often outsource editing, writing and sometimes research. This frees up my time and helps me generate more income.
I’m also using Tailwind to automate my Pins and I’m finding that’s super helpful. I’ll have to start looking into Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule my other social media posts.
Getting help has been amazing for my business and life. My MIL comes over practically every day to play with the twins. My husband helps me immensely in my business and we are actually working together now, so that’s a plus.
Working from home doesn’t have to be lonely. Involve your friends and family and enlist their help!
Pay Attention to Burnout
It’s super easy to burnout when you work for yourself.
The lines blur when your office is in your bedroom. Your brain doesn’t automatically shut off when work is done for the day.
It’s important to remember that it’s quite easy to burnout as a freelancer, side-hustler or telecommuter.
You have to pay attention to the tasks that are burning you out. It might be coming home to a full day of work and then having to clean up the living room, put a load of laundry in and then prepare dinner.
You’re tired and every little thing is exhausting. I get you!
I still work several hours after I put my twins to bed at night. For most people though, the best time to get most of your work done is in the morning.
We’re awake, refreshed from having a good night’s sleep and ready to take on the day.
But, for work-at-home moms with small children, your morning might be a bit more frazzled.
It’s dressing your children, unloading the dishwasher, prepping breakfast, loading up the dishwasher, wiping down the children, sweeping the floor, tidying up the living room – oh, and changing out of your PJ’s – and then having something to eat yourself.
Instead of starting off with a million things to do, the best thing I did was divide tasks up. I do some at night before bed and the rest in the morning before breakfast.
This usually works and frees up time to check my email, get my tasks in order and start my day.
And finally, avoid burnout by taking time for yourself. If it’s watching TV or having a girl’s night, then schedule it in.
For me, my guilty pleasure is The Walking Dead. If I can, I would binge watch the whole season, but that’s just not being productive!
Treat Each Day Differently
For me I need to remember that even though I have a schedule, not every day will turn out that way.
My twins may wake up a half hour earlier – or sleep an extra 45 minutes later (yes!). I might have used the last cup of milk and now I have to go out in -10 C weather and get milk for the day.
My client piece needs more editing than what I had thought and now I have to write a whole new sub-heading complete with new images and supporting facts.
While it’s a good thing to have a plan for the day, treat it as a fluid plan. With children you have to be flexible
Over to you – do you have any extra tips to help you multiply your productivity?
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