I have been working from home in some capacity for over six years. I’ve learned lots of tricks on how to help stay organized to ensure I am most productive. Let’s face it: working at home comes with tons of distractions which can sometimes make staying focused difficult.
Let me give you a little history on my working from home experience. In 2012, I began my online Master’s program. I took one class at a time while juggling a full-time job (that didn’t have consistent hours, I might add).
In 2014, after I completed my Master’s program, I began doing freelance work. I found myself having difficulty finding jobs in my field, mostly due to my lack of experience. So, I turned to freelance! But, again, I was working a full-time job with hustling on the side.
I did freelance up until 2017 when I finally landed my dream job in social media. With this new job, I began working from home on a full-time basis. At the beginning of this year, I added another job to my plate: stay-at-home mom. (Yes, y’all, this qualifies as a job). I simultaneously managed to keep a human alive while working.
As of last month, I am now pursuing my author career full-time while doing a little bit of freelance on the side. Being successful in this comes with using the right tools in the right place to get the job done. Here are 3 of the tools that I have used through this journey that have helped me stay productive.
1. A Planner
I have been using a physical planner since I was in high school. Admittedly, some years my planners haven’t gotten much use. But for the last five years, Erin Condren planners have been my go-to. I’ve used them religiously all year long.
I don’t know what it is about a physical planner, but I find it to be more effective for me than using a calendar, like the one in my Gmail account. Being able to write out my appointments, deadlines, bills, etc just works better for me. The at a glance aspect is much more aesthetically pleasing.
Allow me to share a little plug about Erin Condren planners. I have a few favorite features that make me choose this planner year after year. One of them is the interchangeable covers. No matter how many years I get a planner, I can continue to use the same covers over and over. I love being able to change these out! For someone who has a hard time committing to a certain style, I can keep my planner fresh all year long.
My other favorite feature is that I’m able to choose what the layout of my planner looks like. Most planners come with horizontal blocks for each day. That’s great and all, but I always felt like I didn’t have the room I needed. With Erin Condren planners, you can choose, as I do, to have vertical days. There are three blocks (morning, afternoon, and evening) as well as lines at the bottom for extra notes. This set up works best for me because I like to create a timely layout for my tasks.
This layout is super helpful when I need to plan for multiple projects. Having a breakdown for morning, afternoon, and evening allows me to practice proper time management. The block style gives me a great visual of what time each task or job must be completed. Plus, looking at my week at a glance allows me to evaluate my week overall. This tells me where I can fit in extra tasks that might come up or what I have room for in my schedule.
Another reason I opt for physical planners is that there’s usually room to add more than just daily tasks. For example, in my Erin Condren planner, there’s a section at the start of each month where I can log my goals. This is a great way for me to hone in on what I’m working towards that month and have a quick way to reference it. A similar section is at the beginning of each week page as well. Keeping track of goals has never been easier!
It helps me to have everything in one place for easy reference as opposed to having an online calendar then clicking over to another program where my goals are. This was a great tool for me when I participated in Camp NaNo in April. My goals for the month, week, and day were in one, easy-to-navigate place.
Honestly, what’s more satisfying than checking off a to-do list? It feels so damn good! In contrast to how I plan out my days, I find that an online checklist is better for completing my to-do list. I know, that might sound a little confusing, but here’s the difference. My planner is used to help me remember due dates or schedule which days to complete projects. My checklist gets more specific than that.
I use Asana to log all of the tasks on my to-do list. I have three categories (right now): blog/business, social media, and freelance. Each category is color-coded and I assign tasks for each category. If I’m doing a ghostwriting job, for example, I’ll create a task that might say, “Write 500 words for ghostwriting project” and assign it under “freelance” to a specific day.
Using Asana, I’m able to be much more detailed in the tasks I need to complete. Inside each task, you can create notes or include links. This allows you to keep things in one place for easy access and make it as detailed as possible.
Another great feature of an online checklist is that it can be shared with others. Personally, I don’t share my checklist right now. But I did use Asana on a team. We were able to see everyone’s calendars and it was a great way to help everyone stay on track with what was going on in the business. If you hire a virtual assistant or a writer for your business, using Asana to assign and keep track of tasks is a great way to keep everyone on the same page.
If you’re interested in learning more about the ins and outs of using Asana, send me an email and we can arrange for a one-on-one call so I can walk you through it!
3. Google Drive
If you don’t have a Gmail account, you need to get one~ It’s a free tool that comes with some incredible benefits, whether you work from home or not. I mentioned in a previous blog how beneficial it is to save your documents in the cloud. Google Drive is an easy place to save any document you use with your business.
Organizing your documents is very simple. You can create folders for your business, clients you have, etc. The possibilities are endless. Plus, you can save multiple style documents (spreadsheet, presentation, etc) in one place without opening up a bunch of programs.
Google documents can also be shared very easily with others. Not only that but if you share your documents with a team, everyone can make changes as needed and you can see what edits were made. It’s a fantastic way to keep track of progress on projects.
Plus, since it’s all saved in the drive, you don’t have to worry about losing your work. It’s always there! Just make sure you have proper recovery options in place so you don’t lose access to your Google account.
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