Tips On Staying Productive While You’re Working From Home

The global spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is keeping people at home. Every day, more and more people are being confined to their homes. These kind of times can be challenging, but they can also be some of the most creative times for writers…if you choose that!

Whether you’re working from home, or social distancing, it can be difficult to meet your writing goals. Never fear, there are ways it can be done!

NOTE: If you’re looking for a simple, effective screenwriting e-course, then check out our very popular The Write Journey, an interactive course in cyberspace via email correspondence that allows you to take ownership of the writing process.

Creative Mastery While Staying At Home

Here are tips to stay motivated and stick to a writing schedule.

Transfer your commute time to intentional rest time 

Instead of starting our day off by stressing out about rushing somewhere on time, invest that time into either a relaxing ritual that gets you to a calm and clear state of mind or invest it into winding down your day so that you don’t form a habit of working into the night. 

Set up a Productive Writing Space

Anyone who’s worked remotely knows how difficult it can be to work and live in the same space. Add in a personal writing project of any kind and it’s a recipe for restlessness.

We all know how distracting TV and social media is, especially for those not used to managing their own time, in their own homes. The temptation to write on the couch or in bed can be overwhelming, but it’s a much better idea to create a workspace for yourself.

The first step in your “work from home” journey is to designate an area of your home, specifically for getting work done.

Set up a work space for yourself where you aren’t distracted by TV and social media. The space that you should create should be neat and organised with minimal distractions. 

Whether that be a spot at the dining room table, a dedicated writing desk, or a lap desk you only use when working on your screenplay, creating a space specifically for writing can be helpful in keeping yourself on track and establishing a productive mindset. When you’re there, you’re writing.

Switch the TV off! Create a schedule and set aside time for yourself to go on Instagram, watch the news or binge on a few episodes on Netflix (not all in the same day!), maybe as a reward for completing a task.  Get up early, shower and get dressed as if you are going to work. If you’re going to work from home, you need to make sure you actually are able to work from home!

Stephen King

“Writing should be a fully intimate activity. Put your desk in the corner of the room, and eliminate all possible distractions, from phones to open windows. King advises, “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.”

You should maintain total privacy between you and your work. Writing a first draft is “completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.”

Regardless of space or location, establish an area of your home where you will work, and commit to working in this space every day. 

Keep your bedroom as a sacred space for sleeping and relaxing where work is banned. It’ll help make the work-life divide a little clearer.

Stay Offline

It’s amazing how many distractions we can find in our own homes. When you sit down to write, make sure that you’re actually writing. Minimize distractions by avoiding social media, apps, and websites. Set timers for the apps on your phone, turn off your Wi-Fi, or download a distraction app for your computer. Better yet — leave your phone in the other room! If the temptation to play Candy Crush or check Twitter isn’t there, you’ll be more likely to hit your writing goal for the day.

“Stop watching television. Instead, read as much as possible,” says Stephen King, who takes a book with him everywhere he goes, and even reads during meals.

If you’re just starting out as a writer, your television should be the first thing to go. It’s “poisonous to creativity,” he says. Writers need to look into themselves and turn toward the life of the imagination.

To do so, they should read as much as they can. King takes a book with him everywhere he goes, and even reads during meals.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” he says. Read widely, and constantly work to refine and redefine your own work as you do so.

Small goals

One of the most frustrating things about working on your own writing projects is sticking to self-imposed deadlines. This is infinitely more difficult when you’re stuck at home. Hitting deadlines and finishing tasks is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel good about whatever writing project you’re working on. So instead of imposing intense and hard-to-meet goals for yourself, set small goals for yourself. Two pages instead of 10, that scene you’ve been putting off for weeks, or revising one act of your pilot — checking smaller tasks off your to-do list will make you feel accomplished and want to keep writing.

NOTE: In our The Write Journey course we explore the writing process and encourage writers to Take ownership of their writing and sign a contract with themselves by mapping the journey of their story from inspiration yo first draft. The be fully aware and accept that the writing process is not cast in stone, it is a process that constantly changes according to what is needed to craft the perfect story.

Set Real Writing Hours

Once you have your writing space set up, it’s time to get down to business — literally. If you are going to make working from home an everyday commitment, then set specific business or work hours.

The beauty of working from home is that you can be flexible in setting your working hours.

Set a schedule, and stick to it…most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.

Discover Your High Productivity Periods

Every individual is most productive at different times of the day. For example, some individuals are morning people, and they are most productive and focused during the morning hours. For others, their most productive time in the workday is the evenings.

You are the master of your own destiny and should know what your best time for writing is, if it’s from midnight to 4am, or from between 5am and noon, write according to the hours to accommodate your needs.

Discover when you are most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods.

Leave Home

We may be practicing social distancing right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a walk. Being outside can be an immediate way to motivate yourself, and the fresh air can boost or revitalize your mood. The change in scenery might even inspire something in your writing — you never know what you’ll see on a walk around the block.

Leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good.

Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. If you don’t have a work-life balance, then you won’t last too long working at home.

You can easily avoid this by working short, five-minute breaks into your daily schedule, or even make them a part of your rewards system.

Leaving the house on occasion can give you a change of scenery, which can help boost creativity and productivity.

Exercise & Stretch Regularly

Exercise increases happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity. Regularly stretching helps you maintain great posture. At a minimum, stretch  throughout the day so you don’t get sore or hinder your quality of life.

Eat Healthy Meals & Snacks

Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. So, when it’s time for lunch or a snack break, we are immediately drawn to the usual snacks, such as chips, cookies, or leftover pizza.

Research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables has a direct link on overall productivity levels. You can also avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether. With extra planning, you can purchase more nutritional snacks on Amazon rather than buying on impulse. Reward yourself with a sweet snack on Friday after a successful and productive week.

If you are an avid snacker, then make it a point to make yourself a healthy lunch, just as you would if you had to go into an office.

Set Ground Rules With the People & Pets in Your Space

Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. If you have children who come home from school while you’re still working, or have multiple pets, all want your attention.

Additionally, just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn’t mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that’s how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that’s fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you’re home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.