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An Introvert’s Formula for a Productive 9 to 5 at Home

Working from home these days? Here are my 10 strategies to stay motivated and have a productive 9 to 5 at home.

Home desk with fresh flowers, antique ceramics, inspirational boards for a successful work space to have a productive 9 to 5 at home from an introverted business owner and blogger

I can hardly believe it has been nearly a year and a half blogging and operating my online antique shop full time! It has been a whirlwind at times and a slow crawl at others. At the end of the day though, I love being my own boss and working from home.

There are so many benefits to designing your own schedule (9 to 5 is merely a suggestion these days😉) and building your own business.

As an introvert who loves quiet time and is energized by solitude, the work at home environment is an added boon. No cubical land buzz or repetitive interruptions, and that is A-OK with me!

I am less stressed, more focused, and happier overall working from home, but I’m not going to lie, it took some time to figure out how to be productive in my career at home. It took some trial and error to figure out effective working strategies, and some days are simply better than others!

With COVID-19 raging across the country and more stay at home orders looking eminent, I wanted to share the strategies that keep me motivated and effective — a formula, if you will, for a productive 9 to 5 at home. I hope these tips help you structure your home office and working habits in the coming weeks and months!

A Productive 9 to 5 at Home

Home Office Setup

The first four strategies are all about creating a productive home office. In my experience, it is absolutely fundamental to productivity to have a designated work space that is organized, comfortable, and full of inspiration.

No. 1 Get Organized

Whether you have a room fully devoted to a home office or a simple desk in the corner of your living room, carving out a space to work is essential. Get everything you need for your work in this space: computer, printer, pens, paper, etc….

Here’s the key though: organize it for efficiency of movement and access. You want your tools in easy reach and arranged neatly. I love mail caddies and trays to store stationary, post-it notes, and other supplies. Opt for organizers that suit your personality and taste in colors and patterns you love.

It is just easier to work in a pretty, organized space! Check out my July 30th flash sale on Instagram for pretty desk accessories, including many of the curios I used here.

No. 2 Create the Right Atmosphere

As an introvert, I do not work well with noisy environments. I find it hard to think and stay focused with a lot of background racket, but this doesn’t mean I like it dead quiet either. Instead, I’ve found calming classical or New Age music to be stimulating and beneficial when working.

S. and I invested in a Sonos system a few years ago and love the ability it gives us to play music all over the house. We mostly listen to the extensive collection of music available through Amazon Music with our Prime subscription. My favorite feature are the playlists and this 👇 “Best of Enya” list is on almost everyday while I write or edit photos.

Enya playlist from Amazon music for optimal work atmosphere music - tips for a productive 9 to 5 at home

No. 3 Layer on the Inspiration

Put up inspirational photos, mementos, and quotes to create a stimulating work space. You can use cork boards, framed images, or magnetic panels to post whatever your find inspirational for your job.

From my desk at college through several different career work spaces to my at home office, I have always put up an inspiration board. I like having reminders of my goals, mission, past accomplishments, and creative encouragements. The boards above my desk are simple cork boards that I painted blue.

No. 4 Bring in Something Living & Green

Adding some fresh flowers or a lively green house plant to your desk area is just a little indulgence that goes a long way. It will brighten your work space and make it feel more refreshing.

While Henry, my CKCS, isn’t green, he sure is a bright spot in my office. He loves to sleep under my desk while I work, so I put his bed down there and type away as he snores along.

Get the Look

Productive Working from Home Habits

These next tips for working at home are all about the habits I try to practice to stay motivated and get work done efficiently and successfully.

View of Katherine's home office desk with cork boards for inspiration, vintage organizers, and fresh flowers.

No. 5 Avoid Distractions First Thing

I am a morning person, and I simply work best in the A.M. — this is when I feel fresh and energized to write. To ensure I optimize this constructive time of day when I have a blog post to work on, I get to it first thing, avoiding distractions like turning on the T.V., checking emails, or perusing social media.

Instead I grab my cup of coffee, turn on the Enya playlist, and open up my computer to write. This is a key strategy for me to have a productive 9 to 5 at home!

No. 6 Write Out Plans & Goals

Keeping a planner, checklist pad, and idea journal are essential planning tools for productivity! Writing out the big picture and breaking down a project into steps with concrete tasks to complete is key. Plus, if you are like me that oh so satisfying motion of checking something off your list is a significant motivator!

Use weekly planners and checklists to keep ahead of projects and complete tasks -- strategy for a productive 9 to 5 at home

No. 7 Set a 15 Minute Timer for Difficult Tasks

When I have a difficult or boring task to complete that I am prone to procrastinating, I find blocking out 15 minutes to work on it is extremely motivating. I tell myself it’s just 15 minutes and I can do anything for 15 minutes. I set my timer and go to it!

What happens more often than not, is that I find myself deeply engrossed by the time the alarm rings and can easily see myself completing the task in another 15 minute interval, so I keep at it!

If I don’t become absorbed, then I move on to something else after 15 minutes and schedule another time block to finish the task.

No. 8 Take Walk, Dance, or Cleaning Breaks

Yes, you read that right! I’ve found one of my most productive strategies to stay motivated all day long is to get up and get moving. This can mean going for a walk, working out, amping up the tunes for a dance break, or tackling a cleaning chore like vacuuming.

Like many of you, my job requires working on the computer for long stretches of time, but this is murder on my back and waist line. It also gets monotonous.  Working from home lets me get up and move around whenever I want, however I want to get the energy flowing!

Jane Austen quote on orange postcard for inspiration and writing sweet notes to friends!

No. 9 Put the Laptop Down & Don’t Feel Guilty

Owning my own business is at times a 24 hour job, and working from home means I’m even more prone to working long hours or odd hours that would normally be spent relaxing or being with friends and family. Taking the afternoon off or scheduling self-care time becomes even more important.

Honestly, somedays it is hard to stay motivated or get in the zone. I try to accept those moods without guilt and use the time to rejuvenate.

No. 10 Connect with Others at Least Once a Day

As an introvert, I have a habit of becoming hyper-focused on my projects and writing. I describe it as falling down a rabbit hole, and it takes time and effort to climb out. The negative effect of this combined with working at home is a lack of interaction with other people. Somedays talking to Henry is my only conversation.

I am working on interacting with someone else via phone, social media, or in person (taking precautions with COVID) at least once a day.  Connecting with others is healthy, feeds creativity, and helps me feel part of a community. I do try and write post cards and thank you notes regularly, so keeping those handy on my desk helps.

Vintage brass swan card holder for desk organization - an important tip for productivity when working from home

While we all pray for a speedy end to this pandemic and a return to some kind of normalcy, I think the work world will undergo some significant changes even when this is all over. Like me, many of you are finding more benefits to working at home and designing our own schedules than a 9 to 5 office culture. I hope this look at my personal strategies and tips to successfully work at home helps you with your productivity!

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