HOW I STAY PRODUCTIVE (working from home).

I’ve been working on this post for quite a while now. As soon as quarantine started and so many people found themselves working from home, it’s been on my mind. I’ve seen quite a few blog posts about this subject so I wanted to take the time to think through the tips I wanted to give.

My Background:

I graduated from The University of Kentucky in 2011 and 2013. In 2011, with a bachelors in both marketing and management, and in 2013, with a Masters of Health Administration. After grad school graduation, I immediately moved to Virginia to accept the position of Marketing Manager for a large health system. I managed the marketing for four hospitals on a team of three, none of which duplicated job tasks. It was extremely fast paced, and very stressful, but I owe that first job most of the credit for my more developed organizational proficiencies. In addition, to my ability to stay calm under pressure and quickly adapt to change even though that isn’t naturally comfortable for me.

After almost three years in that role, I moved to California where I took on the role of Marketing Manager and Education Specialist for a home health tech startup. I was, again, part of a small team, and in addition to doing my marketing duties, also started their nurse training program to help patients better utilize their technology.

During my time working in Virginia and California, I also worked part-time as a Pure Barre Instructor and a Stitch Fix Stylist. And, during the summer of 2014, started Pardon Muah.

I feel like this backstory is important, because one, I haven’t always worked from home. And two, I’ve always had jobs that were deadline based, pressure-filled, and fast paced. I’ve also always overloaded myself with responsibility so staying busy and motivated is something I expect of myself. Because of this, I’ve had to learn to be productive and constantly more efficient.

JUST A NOTE: I know people have strong opinions about what “work from home” means and what having a “real job” entails. I’ve personally never felt the need to defend what I do (and I hope you don’t either). All career paths come with their own challenges and specific skill sets. And blogging and/or working from home is the same. At the end of the day I truly love what I do and that’s all that matters to me. I hope all of you will pursue your dreams! And if you’re ever feeling judgement, remember, you’re not getting paid based on the opinions of others and your success can never be overshadowed by someone else’s lack of happy.

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faux fur office chair with leopard barefoot dreams blanket
fake peony flower bouquet
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You can shop Heidi’s pink couch HERE.


ONE | Make A To-Do List At the Beginning AND End Of The Day.

I am a huge proponent of making to-do lists. Whether it’s on paper or on an electronic device, making lists keeps tasks top of mind. I’ve always been a paper person (which is funny since my life revolves around technology and social media). I always have a notebook and my planner on hand! Ever since I started working full-time out of graduate school I’ve made a to-do list at the beginning and end of the day. At the beginning, I review the list from the day before and add anything new. At the end of the day, I start a brand new list subtracting what has been completed, and refreshing for the day ahead. This helps me to see what I may be procrastinating to complete and where my focus needs to be. I always asterisk more important items!

TWO | Complete Small/Quick Tasks First!

This might sound strange, but I always complete small or quick tasks first, even before more urgent projects. I find that knocking five quick things off my list, helps me to focus on longer more important line items. It frees up more time and keeps your head clearer. Plus, there’s nothing like getting to physically cross several things off your list at once.

THREE | Highlight Tasks That Must Get Done By End Of Day.

Working from home is a very different experience than going into the office everyday. And though it sounds ideal, it’s actually much harder to keep yourself on task. At home you have to set strict boundaries and motivate yourself to work if you ever want to have downtime. Especially if you end up working as your own boss. For me, if I don’t work, I don’t make money. And let me tell you, that’s some serious motivation! I found that it was really easy to get down on myself for not getting MORE done somedays, so I started looking at it differently.

Now, I highlight all of the tasks that MUST get done. It’s okay if they don’t get done until midnight, but as long as they get completed I can count the day as a success. Work from home scheduling can fluctuate, mostly if you work for yourself, and I’ve learned that’s okay. I don’t force myself to get up at the same time everyday or to stick to a rigid schedule because that doesn’t work for me. And as long as my highlighted tasks get done I give myself permission to enjoy the work life I’ve created.

FOUR | Set Specific Times For Home Chores.

This is an important one for productivity. It is VERY easy to start doing the dishes or put loads of laundry into the wash. But home chores can be so distracting from your actual work. If you were in the office, you wouldn’t be able to vacuum your carpet, so I try not to do those things while in work mode (I’ll talk about this more in tip nine). It’s really easy to start feeling guilty that you aren’t being “helpful” enough when you work from home if the other members of your household don’t. There can be a misconception that you should be doing it ALL if you’re the one at home (reference tip seven).

FIVE | Create A Clean & Organized Space.

Designating an at-home work space or office is crucial to productivity. Even if it means taking a space you already live in the most (i.e. the living room) and make that room work for you. For example, my office and desktop computer are upstairs, and I realized I wasn’t getting as much done, because I was spending all my time downstairs during the day. So I created a workspace on my dining table and upgraded my laptop so that while I was down there I was checking emails, and working on blog posts. If you’re able to designate a room in your home to an office, I encourage you to make it pretty. Make it a room you love to spend time in, that is conducive to the type of work you do, and organize it in a way that makes sense.

SIX | If Overwhelmed, Hit Pause!

I have days where I feel unmotivated or stressed or overwhelmed and when this happens I give myself permission to hit pause (granted anything urgent is done or published). Feeling out of sorts will only make the work you do complete less than, and in the long run is actually less productive. I like to clean up my house, organize my spaces, and sit down with my to-do list. I will take a fresh piece of paper and write down everything I can possibly think of that needs to get done. Getting everything out of my mind really helps to curb the stress. Once you see tasks right in front of you, you can make a game plan. Give those tasks priorities and days of the week to complete. And if needed, give yourself permission to start that list tomorrow.

SEVEN | Communicate With Coworkers And Family Regularly.

I listed both coworkers and family because I think this is so important in both the office and at home. Regular communication about deadlines, projects, problems, and schedules is key! If you need to push something back, have concerns, or need help talk to those involved – do it promptly and upfront. Brand partners, coworkers, bosses, significant others, and even children (I say this as a child who cannot transition when things suddenly change) love to be in the know and aware. I also know from personal experience, you cannot expect your family to understand what “work from home” means right away. Communicating your unique schedule and your needs will help them to better understand that you aren’t just watching tv all day and neglecting household chores. Set boundaries and explain what your workday looks like, and even how they can help!

EIGHT | If You Can Do It Now, Do It Now.

Procrastination will not be your friend if you work from home or work as your own boss. I personally work in a fast paced, deadline based industry so if I procrastinate on something it will just create a pile of more things for me to do later. It’s hard when your instinct it to “do it later,” but I’ve been trying to force myself to do it now if I can.

NINE | Complete Home Chores Before Bed.

I’ve made it a point, since buying my own home, to do all of my chores before bed. I make sure everything is organized and in its place before going to bed so that I can wake up with a clear head and no mess to clean up. If you make it a point to do this every night, it’s less work and won’t take as much effort. It’s become a habit I really enjoy!

TEN | Do What Works For YOU.

At the end of the day, everyone’s work schedule and environment looks different. Things that work well in an office may not work well at home, and tips that make someone else productive may not work for you. I think so many times we feel guilt as work from home professionals or really anyone who finds true enjoyment in their job. Life is meant to be enjoyed and if you can support yourself, your family, your dog, etc., and be happy at the end of the day, do that! Can you watch the tv while you work? Do that! Can you afford to leave the house to take a long walk? Do that! Can you make lunch plans at 2:30pm with a girlfriend because you completed all your tasks before noon? Do that! Being happy will only make you much more productive!

ADDITION! | When It Makes Sense Hire Help.

At a certain point in any career, you will probably need the help of others or experts in your field. In 2018, I hired an agency to help manage my work which allows we to spend more time creating content and less time in the weeds. Six years into blogging, I’ve also hired the services of an accountant, a designer, a developer, and a lawyer. All people who make my life easier and push Pardon Muah to a more professional place.

Don’t forget to check out my NEW HOME TOUR!

XO Amanda

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