As much as I love working in a coffee shop, library, or an office, sometimes it’s nice to just wake up and make coffee and wear sweatpants all day while you get things done. And sometimes you just need some quiet alone time to keep your sanity intact.
The huge downside of working from home is getting into that creative workflow mode when you might not be in the most inspiring environment (not that you can’t get great ideas from a living room couch, but it doesn’t help). That’s why I put together this list of my favorite strategies for getting your grind on from the comfort of that couch.
Put on some background noise.
I love the coffee shop atmosphere because it has just the right balance of noise and non-noise, which research has proven to boost creativity. I don’t know about you, but I can’t work in complete silence, and it helps to have ambience in the background when you’re at home.
Coffitivity is an amazing website that I just discovered a few weeks ago. It actually plays coffee shop noises, and you can actually pick from different types of coffee shop noise (the lunchtime rush? a college campus?) to get the vibe you want. If coffee shop noise isn’t your thing, put on a mindless TV show or your best Spotify playlist to nail the right sound for your work mode. Believe it or not, Keeping Up With the Kardashians gives me some of my most productive moments.
Go back to the drawing board.
A literal drawing board! I missed having the whiteboards and easels that office conference rooms have for brainstorming, so I bought a full-size easel at Michael’s and set it up at home. It’s the perfect blank canvas for when I need to draw out what I’m thinking, or make lists, or write down an inspiring quote. Whiteboards and easels are the ultimate place for ideas, and having that place at home will help you when creativity strikes at home.
Block out time when your brain is at its best.
Everyone has a time of the day that they feel most “on”– that is, when your brain is most productive. You’re always supposed to save the hardest tasks that require the most brainpower for when your brain has the most, well, power. That means if you know you work best in the AM, crank out your most work in the morning and save everything else (emails, phone calls, smaller tasks) for the afternoon. If you’re a night owl, do the reverse. And defend that time fiercely. Don’t let anyone take it up. Put time on your calendar if you need to show everyone that you can’t be disturbed.
Do something active, even just for a few minutes.
When you’re working in an office, you often get up and moving, even just to go to a meeting, but at home it’s easy to get stuck sitting for hours at a time. I have a yoga mat by my desk, for when I need to get the blood flowing. Even if it takes just a few yoga poses or a 5-minute walk, you feel refreshed and energetic when the home environment starts to make you feel blah.
Take an hour to shake up your routine.
Whatever you don’t get to spend an hour doing at the office, take the chance to do at home. Read a book you wouldn’t normally have time for, or catch up on the email newsletters that you don’t usually read. Buy fresh flowers for yourself and put them on your desk. Go through your closet and put together new outfits. Take a bath! Go see a matinee movie like they do on Mad Men when they’re feeling creatively stuck and need to clear the cobwebs. Shaking it up and doing something different can be a huge boost to your thinking, and while you’re taking your mind off your work, sometimes your mind will sort things out on its own.