Recently, as part of my Publishing MSc here in Edinburgh, I took part in a placement opportunity at a wonderful local publishing houses – Luna Press Publishing. They are a fantastic family-run independent publisher specialising in science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as academic texts. However, due to their small size they have no official office space and so all employees work remotely – including me. At the time I was enthusiastic about this opportunity; it would allow me to have control over my own work schedule and I could be flexible with when I worked, dreamy!

When it came down to it, however, things became a little bit more difficult. I am the queen of procrastination; I sit on a throne of deadlines I’ve left until the very last minute and I rule over a kingdom of benign tasks I suddenly remember I absolutely have to do as soon as I sit down to work. It drives me insane.

Yet, with a few teething problems here and there, I managed to perfect my working-from-home style and nail that placement opportunity! So, without further ado, I would like to share with you my five top tips on how to stay productive and effectively work from home. These tips will help you to stay focused and keep annoying distractions to a minimum – perfect for all you fellow students and freelance workers out there!

1)       Keep your work environment clean and free of clutter!

This goes back to the old proverb ‘tidy house, tidy mind’. Make sure you have a dedicated work space with everything you may need and nothing more. For me, this is my laptop, a notebook and pen, and any textbooks I may need. This helps to streamline your workplace and makes your head feel clearer. No longer do you have to glare at the empty coffee mugs and scattered bits of paper cluttering your desk, no more rummaging through your drawers to find your favourite pen, no more excuses!

2)       Create a work schedule.

This has been the most important tip for me! It’s endlessly helpful to have a schedule which you can stick to and works for your own personal needs. For example, I would have a weekly spread in my diary and every Wednesday and Saturday would be dedicated to completing placement tasks assigned to me. Having a schedule means you can form a habit, so the work feels less daunting when you get around to doing it and you can accurately keep track of your workload.

3)       Have a daily to-do list.

Once you’ve planned out your weekly workload and sat down at your nice clean desk, it’s now important to outline what you actually have to do. Having a list of your daily tasks can be really beneficial in getting you motivated for the day and can break your workload into manageable chunks. Making a to-do list can also allow you to prioritise and have a clearer idea of how long each task may take you.

4)       Get out of your PJ’s!

This may be the hardest one yet, but…sometimes getting out of your pyjamas and into real-people clothes can have a massive effect on your productivity and motivation, and can help you feel like your work day has truly begun. I’m certainly not saying you can’t be comfortable in your own home, but it is amazing how much of a boost of energy you get after changing out of your PJ bottoms and into…a fancier pair of PJ bottoms. If you feel and look productive, you will be productive.

5)       Take regular breaks.

This is a piece of advice I have certainly overlooked multiple times in the past and is a tip I think everyone needs to hear. It’s okay to take a break. In fact, it’s vital! Productivity does not require you to have worked solidly for nine hours without looking up from your screen – it’s all about managing your workload effectively. Take an hour for lunch, go for a walk, have a coffee break away from your desk. Let your mind rest. You can thank me later.

I hope you have found these five tips helpful and that you can now effectively boost your productivity when working from home! Whether you are a student, a freelancer or taking part in a remote work opportunity such as myself, these tips can really save a lot of stress and anxiety along the road, allowing you to enjoy the opportunity you have in front of you.

Happy working from home!