“Everything you can imagine is real.”Pablo Picasso
I know most writers usually work from home anyway, or a quiet area alone in a café. Or something along those lines. However, there is something different when it’s more essential to be working from home and no longer your choice.
There is also something different if you live with others than are now at home all the time, either because they’re working from home or have unfortunately lost their job.
I found it difficult during these times, having my partner at home to distract me and being forced to only write at home. It’s important to maintain motivation and happiness during these times, and I came up with 10 things that have helped me say productive over the past month or so.
1. Noise Cancelling Headphones
These are honestly the best thing I have invested in. I find it’s easier to focus and do my work more effectively when I can’t hear what’s going on around me. I usually put some music on, from my specific writing playlist, and focus on the task at hand. Not being able to hear things around me lets me get into the zone and get writing!
2. Set Up Rules With Others at Home
“I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.”Anna Kendrick
You need to set time for work, and work is writing. You need to let others know when you’re disappearing to do your writing, and when you need to be left alone.
I needed to set this up with my husband and tell him when I was doing something that I needed to focus on. Working at home together than be tough when it comes to distractions, but it helps to set those boundaries and let others know when you need to step away and focus on work.
3. Have a Morning Routine
It is so important to have a healthy morning routine and stick to it. Not only does it help your mental health, it also helps your productivity. Try to get up around the same time each morning, get out of your pyjamas and eat a healthy breakfast. Include whatever you want into your morning routine, but try to stick to it each day and push yourself to have that healthy morning routine.
4. Exercise Every Day
I usually incorporate this into my morning routine, but sometimes I just go for a simple walk in the afternoon. Exercise really helps your mental health, and you need to take extra care of that mental health in the current world.
Whether it be a high intensity workout, going for a run, doing some yoga or going for a walk, it really helps to take the time out during the day to get your endorphins up and stretch your muscles. It helps your mind muscles to strengthen and improves your mental health, which positively impacts your writing ability.
5. Make a To-Do List Each Morning
I find this helps me to stay focused and know what I need to do each day. Since I do University, I include things like time to study and when my classes are each day. It helps to have this planned out in the morning and know what I need to do during the day. I can plan my writing around other things and it helps keep my focused towards my study goals and my writing goals.
6. Set Deadlines
“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.”Kenneth Goldsmith
It really helps to set your own deadlines and try to stick to them. Things like ‘write 500 words a day’ or ‘finish 2 chapters this week’. It really helps to have deadlines to meet each day, or each week. It helps keep you focused and fighting towards your end goals.
7. Have a Dedicated Workspace
I never saw this as overly necessary pre-COVID, but once the pandemic hit and we were home bound, I came to the realisation that a dedicated workspace is so crucial.
I have a home study set up and it helps to sit down at my desk and take that specific time during the day to write and focus on my work. Occasionally I will change positions and write on the couch or outside, but I find the dedicated workspace works really well for me.
8. Minimise Distractions
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”Winston S. Churchill
It can be hard to stay focused at home with animals, family, food or social media. I find I sit down to write and 2 hours later I have accomplished nothing because I was sucked into conversations with my husband and scrolling through social media.
It’s important to minimise distractions as you can, using things like social media lockouts and noise cancelling headphones. By doing this, you can stay focused on your task and be done sooner than you would while being distracted.
9. Take Breaks
Like any working person, you need to take breaks. You can’t expect to sit in front of a computer for 5 hours and smash out a heap of writing. Everyone tends to get bored and unproductive after sitting in front of a screen for so long, and words start to mush together.
Breaks are important for your mind, and for your health. Taking breaks throughout the day helps keep you focused and your mind clear so that you can keep pushing towards your goals.
10. Be Kind to Yourself
You need to take a step back and remember that we’re all human and we are all going through tough times right now! It’s okay to have off days and it’s okay to spend a day not leaving your bed. The important thing is to not let this be every day, and to keep pushing on where you can. You feel bad, so take a day off. But get cracking back into the next day. Try to not push yourself too much, we’re going through a lot right now and it is okay to feel horrible and have a day, or a few, off. Just take it one step at a time!
“Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going.”Chantal Sutherland