Figure out when you are most productive, and do your work at that time.
I've struggled a lot lately with getting my work done. Part of that is due to the fact that I am in the middle of battling burnout right now. But some of it has to do with the fact that I've had trouble working at times when I'm most productive.
We all have our own cycles, and we all feel better and more productive at different times of the day (or week or month). Understanding when you are are more productive is key to working with maximum efficiency and getting more done with the least amount of stress.
Keep Track of When You Get More Work Done
Your first step is to recognize when you work better. One of my problems is that I've been staying up late because my husband and I are on somewhat different schedules at this time. As a result, I tend to stay up a little bit later with him, enjoying some quality time, rather than going to bed.
Unfortunately, I am more of a morning person. This means if I don't get up and get going in the morning, I have a hard time the rest of the day. In fact, if I don't manage to get my blog posts done before lunch, there's a good chance that they aren't going to get done that day.
I'm more alert (even when I'm tired) in the morning, and I am less prone to succumbing to distractions in the morning. I recognize this, and try to get as much as possible done when I get up — especially if it is important.
Notice these patterns in your own life. Do you get more done in the morning, afternoon, or night? Are there certain times of day when the kids are napping or in school that present you with times to work hard and accomplish important tasks? When do you feel more like working? Once you understand the times of day that represent your peak productivity, you will be more likely to get more done.
Don't Forget Times of the Week, Month and Year
I've discovered that I have a hard time working on Thursdays and Fridays. I get a lot done on Mondays and Tuesdays, but I slow down a bit later on. I don't usually work much on Fridays because that's a day that my husband and I can go to lunch or a movie while my son is in school. I find that if I do a very small amount of work on Thursday and Friday, I'm ready to get up (a little later) on Saturday and get quite a bit done in the morning.
It's a little unusual, but it works for me. The key to understanding this about myself was paying attention to the things I wanted to get done during the week, and realizing that my schedule doesn't require that I work a “standard” Monday through Friday week and take weekends off. I can shift my schedule around during the week to reflect my own preferences. You can do the same. The important thing is that you get your work done by the deadline.
Don't forget to pay attention to the time of the month and year. I rarely take on new clients from November through December, and I don't start new projects just before my son's summer break from school. I know that I'll have life things to do, and I know that my productivity will be low.
When you work from home it's important to understand the rhythms of your life, and work around them. Work when you know you can be at your most productive, get as much done as you can, and then you'll have more time to enjoy the rest of your life.