How to Increase Productivity when Working from Home
It’s not a secret that a lot of virtual assistants, freelance writers, and translators work from home. While most writers and translators charge either per word or per project, VAs charge for their time.
When you charge a per hour rate, clients are concerned that you’re not wasting time and thus wasting their money. They expect you to deliver results in the shortest amount of time possible and often vigilantly monitor your activities by insisting that you use time tracking software that makes screenshots at random intervals (if you work through Upwork, that will sound familiar).
Most virtual assistants work from home and that has countless benefits. Unfortunately, there is one huge issue related to being in the comfort of your home office – all the temptations to waste time are there. You know what I’m talking about. Shall I make a short pause and have another coffee? Oh, wait, let me check Facebook on my phone! How’s that soup doing – perhaps it needs a stir? I bet all these sound familiar! So, let’s see how you can increase productivity without denying yourself those precious cups of coffee.
Plan, Plan, Plan
If you don’t have a habit of planning your work day ahead, you should start now. Nothing reduces your productivity more than the lack of a list of tasks for the day. It’s up to you how to plan your day – you can write everything down the traditional way using pen and paper, add items to your calendar app, stick post-its onto a board, or use a planner app like GoodTask (for Mac, part of the Setapp suite).
I know, this is the hard part. It’s always so tempting to check Facebook or Instagram, read a news article, or just… have that cup of coffee I keep going on about. What’s important to understand and accept is that most of the time you create those distractions. When you realize that, you’ll be able to start controlling distractions and boost your productivity.Nothing reduces your productivity more than the lack of a list of tasks for the day. Click To Tweet
My all-time favourite way to concentrate when working on the computer is to use a tracker app like Kronos (Mac). This app tracks the time you spend on each screen, whether it’s a Word document, your email client, your browser, etc. What’s even better is that it tracks the time spend on each browser tab. So, if Facebook or YouTube is your most active tab where you spend the most time, you’ll see that immediately. You won’t believe the overwhelming feeling of guilt you’ll feel when you’ll see that you spend 30%+ of your workday pretending to work and wasting time!
Other useful anti-distraction apps are Be Focused (Mac, part of Setapp), LeechBlock (browser) to use timers and lock yourself out of time-waster sites, and RescueTime (all operating systems and browsers) to track your productivity and block yourself from distracting sites.
Another thing you absolutely should do is have a bottle of water and a glass handy. That will not only prevent you from wandering off to the kitchen because you’re thirsty, but also help you stay hydrated throughout the day.
Take Scheduled Breaks
Unlike wandering off and having breaks that sound more like excuses, carefully scheduled breaks will help you to increase productivity a great deal. Your planner or productivity app will help you do that. The Pomodoro technique is also a godsend, especially combined with a Pomodoro time tracking app.Unlike wandering off and having breaks that sound more like excuses, scheduled breaks will help you to increase productivity. Click To Tweet
Another way to have quality breaks is to plan regular activity changes. For example, plan to spend X amount of time on marketing activities, then switch to content writing and spend Y minutes doing that, and so on. And yes, you can get up and do some exercise, check your phone, and rest for a while – just make sure you complete the planned task first.
Do you have any other tips how to increase productivity when working from home? Share them in your comments!