When I worked in the corporate world, there were a handful of restrictions, but also a lot of perks, like being able to grab lunch with friends to break up the workday, being able to bounce ideas off of co-workers and mentors, and believe it or not, having a desk in an office that I did not own, surrounded by other doors, some opened, some closed, and an array of gray cubicles that lined the perimeter. Doesn’t sound exciting, but that structure gave me the ability to create a regimented schedule to my day. A set time to arrive, and while there was no specific end-of-day, it was much easier to stay late without the temptations and comforts of being at home. It provided a designated area in which to run through my tasks. And the omnipresent eyes and ears of my colleagues and bosses that kept me on my toes and continually encouraged me to perform.
After I had my first daughter, I chose to leave my job to be with her full-time, and although I took the first year off completely to focus my attention solely on Emma, I have since started this lifestyle blog and founded a small company, under the same name, Pumpkin + Rose, that offers unique event, party and wedding planning and provides nursery design services. For the first time in my adult life, I am able to determine my work schedule, vacation days, or lack there of, and am the one responsible for not only determining what tasks need to be accomplished, but actually making sure to see them through without the help of a support team.
Here are my 5 tips to staying productive day in and day out.
#1. GET OUTSIDE. This one may seem counterintuitive, but being able to take a morning walk in the fresh air while my daughter sleeps in her stroller allows me to clear my head and get both my blood and creative juices flowing.
#2. CARVE OUT A DESIGNATED WORKSPACE. When my daughter was born, we lost our polished and cushy home office to her now-bedroom. And without having another bedroom to spare, that meant we also lost the area that held our files, our important documents, our desktop. It was the room earmarked for paying bills and filling out the calendar and scribbling down to-do lists. So, we devoted a corner of our living room to a new workspace. It is smaller and doesn’t have its own door for added privacy, but it is separate enough that I am able to retreat there to pen articles and blog posts and create mood boards for clients.
#3. TAKE A BREAK. This is another one that may seem counterintuitive and similar to tip #1 above, but sometimes a 30-minute break is all it takes to get the major reboot I need. Whether I escape to the post office or the dry cleaners to tackle a few errands mid-day without the chaotic lines that usually form around 5PM, or take a quick trip to Starbucks to fuel up and even socialize with others (one source of stimulation that severely suffers when you work from home), I am left feeling refreshed and ready to get back to tackling my workload.
#4. DRESS THE PART. I remember being told back in high school that dressing neatly may help improve test scores and that it was encouraged to show up to SAT testing in something other than pajamas or an old sweat-suit. I have adopted the same sort of mantra now that I work from home. While it is so easy to get sucked into staying in what I wore to bed the night before, getting up, taking a shower and putting on a a fresh outfit, even if it consists of clean yoga pants, sneakers and a trendy pull-over, rather than a pair of heels, makes me feel more motivated. It helps improve my attitude and mood and allows me to be more focused.
#5. INVEST IN GOOD STATIONERY. Setting goals is a huge part of any successful career, and working from home is no exception. If I have a good set of stationery that is neat, clean and appealing, I feel more apt to write those goals down. In addition, I am a big list-writer, always jotting down projects and ideas, whether at my desk or in a set of notebooks I carry around with me everywhere. Being able to see objectives spelled out in fine, black ink is highly effective for me. It helps me succeed in carrying out those very goals and tasks that I laid out on paper.
For other small business owners or entrepreneurs out there who may have already formed their own practice for productivity, but are being held back because of a lack of funds, you should get to know, Kabbage. Kabbage provides affordable services to small businesses in the form of small business loans, and is the leading online provider of working capital for those looking to grow their business. Check out their website for additional information, as well as their Community section for helpful resources.
Have a great weekend and here’s to a productive new week ahead!