We have been in our new house for over a month now, but it's still a hot mess. Boxes. Everywhere. Originally, we decided we wouldn't have a living room – just two offices in the two front rooms. However, when I started writing this sponsored post for Staples, I realized my office could be condensed and the other half of the room could be somewhat of a living room space. You know, just in case I make a friend and want to invite them over or something. Ha!
My List of 30 Ways to Increase Productivity While Working From Home
Right now, we're working on transitioning Rachel to work from home at least part-time, and since I'm already working from home full-time, we both have to make sure we're making the most of our space and our supplies to be as productive as possible. Here are some tips that might help you as well.
(Before + After of my office)
1. Create the perfect space.
To create the perfect space, you must use the best supplies. I'm a total office supply geek, so I get super excited when it's time to go shopping at Staples, because creating an organized space has never been easier! Now I'd be lying if I said office supplies magically made me an organized person. I'm not, and never will be completely organized, but a clean desk with lots of cool office supplies helps me focus.
2. Clear everything off of your desk. Start fresh. A clean space is easier to work with.
3. Put everything in piles. I had a pile for Etsy shipping labels, a pile for papers that needed to be filed (like medical, house stuff, etc), and a pile for upcoming work. So basically anything that is due for clients in the next two weeks went in my main pile, which you'll see in the “after” pictures and the tour. The other stuff went in piles that then went into folders, notebooks, binders, or my office tray.
4. Surround yourself with happy things. What makes you happy? Besides chocolate and coffee, of course. I like bright colors, so the next step for my office is to add some colorful quotes above my desk. I have a few picked out, now to talk Rachel into painting them on the wall for me…
5. Use organizers.
I purchased several Staples Brand Products to help me organize my desk. The most important one is my (6.) Staples® All-in-One Silver Wire Mesh Desk Organizer. It's got three mesh wire trays that pull out, which is where I put all my “to do” list items. The top tray is for what is due now, and the bottom two trays are for upcoming work. On the top of the organizer, there's a four-tier file holder, so that's where I keep bills that need to be paid. If I don't keep them right in front of my face, I'll forget to pay them!
On the side of the organizer, there's a pen cup and another item tray where I put outgoing mail (and CDs I'm listening to). I put my (7.) Staples Hype! Highlighters and (8.) Staples Remarx™ Dry-Erase Markers in this pen cup. I have another pen cup where I put pens, pencils, and extras like (9.) Staples® Metal Binder Clips in various sizes.
In front of my mesh organizer, I have a (10.) Staples® Memo Cube. The papers are perfect for note taking, and actually I use them for my schoolwork as well. Memorizing psychology terms is easier said than done. ;)
11. Learn to love binders. I use my (12.) Staples Better 3-Inch Slant D 3-Ring View Binders for organizing my school and work life all in one spot. I have four ‘cube' spaces on the top of my desk, and four underneath. The four underneath house files and papers I don't need, while the four up top house everything I need throughout the week. I use one binder for school, and one for work, along with (13.) Staples Reinforced Filler Paper so I don't have to worry about papers falling out. If you're going to have lots of stuff in one binder, I recommend (14.) Staples® Standard Sheet Protectors, and (15.) Staples® Insertable Big Tab Dividers.
16. Focus on one thing at a time. With ADD, this is literally impossible… I always have 289387 projects going at once. If you can hone in on just one project at a time, even for a short period of 15-20 minutes, you'll get so much more accomplished.
17. Organize your to do list. Instead of writing 10 things that must get done each day, write three. I know that seems counterproductive, especially if you really do need to get those 10 (or 100!) things done, but just start with three. Writing more than that can get overwhelming, but once you mark those three off, add three more. I have a to do list for morning, afternoon, and night. Yes, that's right, three to do lists! If I just had one, everything would be put off until the evening and nothing would get accomplished. Having a morning to do list means I have to get those three things done before noon. My afternoon list must be marked off before 4PM, and my night time to do list usually stretches well into the evening, but is always made up of kid/family stuff instead of work stuff.
18. Reward yourself when you mark something off your to do list. This might seem a little silly, to reward yourself – a grown adult – for marking something off your list. I promise it's fun and makes work so much easier, especially when you're working on a difficult order, or working for a difficult client, etc. A reward can be anything! My favorite rewards are an hour at the pool (obviously that needs to be used after my work is complete or I'll never get anything done!), a coffee (at home or at a coffee shop), a walk with the dogs (when it's not 150 degrees out), or just reading a few chapters of my book. Any type of reward can break up the monotonous and keep you going for the day… or week. ;)
19. Don't be so hard on yourself. Kind of along the same lines as rewarding yourself for a job well done, make sure you aren't too hard on yourself if something slips through the cracks. If it's a customer order, do what you can to make the customer happy! Be honest, apologize for the mistake, and fix it. But then let it go. Holding onto your mistakes will only create negativity for you to dwell on, and we all know where negativity gets us… blah!
20. Connect with others in your industry. Networking isn't directly related to productivity, but if you have a larger network, you can work smarter, not harder. For example, I posted about my Virtual Assistant Training sale this past week. Instead of having to promote it day after day, hour after hour, I posted it in a few different places and then my friends helped promote it. Why? Because they're in my network and they know I will do the same for them. It's like having an army of friends sending your stuff out 24/7 even when you aren't working on it. I get messages daily saying “someone” recommended my VA training. Those someones are usually friends or past clients. Work hard to connect with others, and give more than you get… you won't regret it.
21. Log out of all social media. This goes against the tip of connecting, but really it's about being on social media to connect at the right times – and knowing when to log off, too. I have a good friend, Katie, who is so awesome about logging off of Facebook when she needs to be productive. She is great about reminding me to do the same. I hate closing Facebook, I might miss something! The truth is, you get more done when you shut it all down. Even if you're only logging off for a few hours each day, track how much more productive you are. You'll amaze yourself.
22. Use a white board. Mine is a Staples Standard White Board, and this thing is massive. It holds all of the important info I need for the week (not month – I'm not that organized). It's another way to keep you on task, because it's right in your face like “HEY! Get to work!”.
23. Be colorful. Colors help me focus and really improve my creativity. For me, creativity is linked directly to productivity, so the more colors… the better.
24. Get comfortable. I don't have to explain the importance of a nice, comfortable desk chair. The chair I bought is a Staples Osgood Bonded Leather High-Back Manager's Chair. I got it on sale for $99.99 so be sure to check for this chair because it's awesome.
25. Get rid of distractions. It's easier said than done to eliminate (or minimize) distractions while working from home, especially if you have kids … and dogs. They're so cute and they of course need all of your attention. Oh, and your kids do, too. I set my office up to where it's kind of like a cubicle. It's separated from the rest of the room enough to where the girls know not to come into my space while I'm working (see #30 as well). If I get too overwhelmed, I grab my binder and laptop, and head to the coffee shop to get some work completed.
26. Listen to upbeat music. I obviously listen to Hanson on repeat (just kidding, kind of), but if you're looking for upbeat music, search for playlists on Pinterest. Positive, happy music is the way to go when you're trying to get things accomplished. Then again, sometimes it's a Five Finger Death Punch kind of day. Take your pick.
27. Take a break. Get up, walk around, stretch your legs. Give your brain a rest.
28. Light it up. While writing this post, I'm sitting here realizing I need a desk lamp. While my office has an overhead light and ceiling fan (woo hoo!), it doesn't provide the direct light needed for note taking, reading at my desk, etc.
29. Make it smell good. Cinnamon is known to help improve focus, but Rachel absolutely hates cinnamon and literally gags at the thought of it, so cinnamon is out for me. Lavender and peppermint help you relax, and lift your mood… so that's what I'm going with for my office.
30. Set office hours.
This is a big one because if you are working from home and you don't set office hours, you'll end up working 16 hour days and getting burnt out. I don't care what your office hours are, just make sure you pick some and stick with them – the rest of the time is for family!
Up next… this post gave Rachel the office bug, so she started putting hers together! Stay tuned for more pics.
CHECK IT OUT:
Look out for the Make More Happen discount for your workplace or home office. From 6/5-6/11, Staples is offering 30% off of all regular-priced purchases of Staples Brand Products in stores to celebrate Staples 30th Anniversary! When you shop Staples Brand Products in-store, you can enter a code for a chance to win a trip to the hottest summer concert at the Staples Center in LA on 8/9. Sweepstakes runs from 6/6-6/25.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Staples Brand Products.