When I tell people what it is I do for a living, they are often fascinated by what it is I actually do while I'm at home. Questions generally arise around how I stay productive, how do I avoid distractions and how do I stay motivated… to name a few.

Stay productive when you work from homeI have to admit, when I first started thinking about working for myself, I was blinded by the thought of the freedom I'd have being able to work from home, never getting out of bed if I didn't want to, or putting makeup on or brushing my hair… and while all of those are definitely possible, if I wanted to actually get stuff done and feel good about myself, I had to figure out a way of being productive while working for myself and working from home.

Easier said than done, of course…

For me, things started to click into place once I worked out how I wanted my day to look. Then it came down to working out a schedule. Next was figuring out my business strategy. How I was going to fit everything in that I needed to, without having to work crazy 12-14 hour days? The whole point of working for myself wasn't to increase my working hours!

A piece of advice…

One piece of advice I offer you is to have your business strategy sorted BEFORE you quit your ‘normal' day job. I'm talking about how you'll find clients, how you plan to sustain your business moving forward and at what point would you need to bring in others to help you.

If you've got a loose plan (it doesn't need to be fancy) in place, the following advice will definitely fall into place more quickly.

Steps for Staying Productive While Working for Yourself (and from home!)

The joy of working for yourself begins to wane after your first few months working at home. Reality will set in. You'll be thinking to yourself, “What the hell did I do?!

It took me a good 8-12 months to really find my footing and figure out my own work routine. During that time my productivity was crap. I missed deadlines, dropped the ball on personal stuff and flailed around. At one point I even wondered, “Maybe I'm just not cut out to work for myself...” which led to a very sad face.

Here's how you can avoid flailing and start your side hustle off the right way. Simply follow the steps below to create your own work routine!

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  • For all recurring tasks and deadlines (think things you do every day or every week consistently), including ongoing work for clients, get it into your calendar. You can't forget what you've scheduled, so put it in there.
  • Once you've taken care of all recurring tasks, you can then figure out your optimal working blocks. These are blocks of time that you set aside in your calendar where you do specific types of work, such as client work or personal projects. For me, I worked out that I am most productive in the morning. Now I have two action blocks of 3 hours at that time. Initially I started out with one 3 hour action block in the morning and another in the afternoon. However, I don't work well past 3pm, so why force myself to do that?!
  • Work out where you work best. Hint: it's probably not from your bed! I generally have a few different spaces that I like to work from. They include my home office, couch in the lounge and my favourite local coffee shop. I typically switch between these places on any given day. If I need to focus on something without distractions, I'll head to the coffee shop. All that white noise really helps my concentration..
  • Use tools to keep you on track. For me, I use a combination of Todoist (all my to-do's for the day) Google Calendar for scheduling and then the Sunrise Calendar app to keep track of everything. I love the Sunrise Calendar app because it connects with Todoist, Google Calendar, Trello and Freedcamp, all the apps I use to track my work and client work.
  • Schedule in your downtime. I know that this might seem silly, but once you start working for yourself, you'll become addicted to what you do, and want to do it all the time… at least you will if you've chosen a side hustle that makes your heart sing. Schedule in blocks of time for yourself, whether that's to workout, catch up with someone for a drink, lunch or just to read a book, schedule it in.


Once you've got all of this covered, create some boundaries for yourself as well. It's very easy to get caught up in what you're doing and forget about the outside world, aka your friends and family. And while they may not understand or support what you're doing, they do love you and want to spend time with you. NEVER allow your work to compromise those relationships. Human beings are not meant to walk this world alone. Don't alienate those around you for the sake of a bit of work…

Inside Hustle HQ you can further hone your productivity skills to earn a predictable income month after month.  When you’re ready to take your home business to the next level you should definitely check it out. 

Do you have any productivity tips you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments below!

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Lise Cartwright
Lise Cartwright

Founder of Hustle & Groove and your creative business strategist. If you want to get notified of new posts just like the ones you see here, then make sure you join the awesome H & G community — Join Now!

    9 replies to "How to Stay Productive When Working for Yourself"

    • Mariana

      Great tips! I’m definetly far from the type A personality and organization/ self discipline has been my biggest struggle. Thanks for the honesty as well, at least gives some hope that with a little work that can turn around 🙂

      • Lise Cartwright

        Thanks Mariana! I have always prided myself on being organised, but as soon as I started working for myself, that all went out the window! I guess our minds feel like we don’t ‘need’ to actually work if we’re at home. Definitely hope you anyone that is stuck 🙂

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    • Nadia

      I’ve worked remotely for 4 years now and my experience shows that a very important factor that increases productivity when you work from home is having a good productivity tool. The one I use is called kanbantool.com and it’s worth recommending.

      • Lise Cartwright

        Thanks for the recommendation Nadia, I’ve heard of it. It’s similar to Trello 🙂

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