Working from home is fabulous. No long commute, not having to wear shoes (big bonus as I live on the Sunshine Coast), and no complaints about my background music. But it does have challenges including procrastination and loneliness. After 2 years of working from home, I’ve discovered tricks to maximise productivity and beat isolation, and today I’m sharing them with you.
Go to work
It’s a short commute between my bedroom and office down the hall, but I still need to feel like I’ve arrived at work. If I skip my ‘getting ready for work’ routine, my productivity diminishes as fast as my cups of tea. I need a mental separation between mum life and business mode. I do this by:
- walking Poppy and Daisy to school. I get the chance to spend time with the kids and chat to the school mums. On the way home I listen to business podcasts and turn my mind to work. Plus we all know the benefits of exercise to productivity, with the likes of Goggle implementing exercise and wellness services for staff.
- getting dressed for work. Wearing an outfit that makes feel good helps me get in the zone. I realised this when I wouldn’t make an effort (as no one is going to see me) and this affected my productivity. I opt for something comfy like a dress or jeans/shorts and a nice t-shirt. Often stripes as I’m addicted to anything with stripes!
- creating a lovely work space. Sitting down to an inspiring, dedicated work space saves time as all my stuff is in its right place. It also provides a divide between the domestic and business zones of my home. Even if you don’t have enough space for a separate office, try and set up a desk just for you with a few things you love. I love my billy buttons, as they make me smile when I look at them!
Ah distraction, the biggest challenge when working from home. I avoid it by:
- tidying the night before. Just like when I was in high school trying to study, I have a major urge to clean and tidy when I need to work. I combat this by doing a quick tidy and clean before bed the night before. I also tidy as I make the breakfast and lunch boxes so the decks are clear. The home is spotless and I’m not distracted.
- not taking personal phone calls. Friends think I can chat because I’m “at home”, so now I have a rule of not answering during work hours. I can always call them back in my morning tea or lunch break or in the evening.
- turning off notifications from social media. It’s such a big-time waster and distraction. And I wouldn’t be checking Facebook if I had an office job! I was so guilty of this at the start of my journey…ping…ping…ping
There are never enough hours in the day, but time management sure can increase your productivity and save your sanity. I get the most out of my day by:
- having my to do list written the day before. I know exactly what I’m working on as soon as I sit at my desk. Loraine Murphy’s to do list is great and it’s free!
- knowing when I’m at my best. I do my harder tasks in the first two hours of the day, when I’m most productive. I save fun tasks for after lunch when I’m a bit slower.
- time blocking. I’ve become strict with setting time limits on breaks. I grab a bite to eat, have a cuppa and hang out the washing. I get space from the desk and the household keeps running, but it stays contained. I also set a timer for a task and I’m amazed at how much quicker I work!
- meal prepping. Organising meals is a whole other post I’ll share in the future. Bur for now I will say – it’s a game changer and allows for so much more time in my week.
- creating transfer time between work and mum-life. I like to stop at 2:00pm which gives me 30 minutes before I have to leave for school pickup. I clear my desk, transfer to do items to the next day, gather my thoughts and get my “mum” hat on. I often have to get bags and snacks packed for after school activities or we head to the beach for a play and ice-cream. “Living the dream”!
Don’t be a hermit
Being a solopreneur can be lonely. It’s easy to get into a slump and miss out on bouncing ideas around with colleagues. To combat the hermit tendencies, I:
- started an accountability group. Gather some of your business friends and create a mastermind. I’ve done it and it rocks! We set out our goals in a Google Doc so we can share them with each other to help stay on track. We discuss ideas, offer feedback and give loads of encouragement. I always achieve my mini-goals because I want to be able to say “yes I did it” each week. We meet up on Zoom which is a free video conferencing app and keep to a strict time. This keeps dedicating the time manageable – and comfortable as we’re home in our pjs ?
- network and chat. It’s lonely working alone. On some Fridays I go to local networking events for women in business such as those hosted by The Boss Babes Project. You could even consider a local co-op working place like The Power House Collective up here on the Sunny Coast.
- change up the scenery. I take my lap top and go to a café. A change of environment can help with productivity or creativity. A few cafes I love include Vast Café and Decisions
Enjoy the Journey
It’s a journey, not a destination…I think during my first couple of years in business I felt like if I wasn’t at my desk, I wasn’t working. I used to work nights and weekends galore, thinking I was being productive. I’ve learnt to relax a bit now and I make a conscious effort to try to enjoy the journey instead of striving for the end goal of creating a successful business! So I do this by:
- planning a relaxed day. My new plan is to have Fridays as a more relaxed day. I like to drive the girls to school instead of walk and head straight to a nice beach walk and listen to a podcast for an hour which feels like a treat. (i’ll talk about my favourite podcasts in anther blog as there’s so many great inspiring podcasts out there these days). This is a day I’ll say yes to a coffee catch up or do more fun creative things in my business.
- Giving myself a reward. I set a mini goal and when I achieve it, I go and get a pedicure or give myself the afternoon off or buy a little treat for myself.
- Reflecting and looking back. I am often so busy writing my to do lists that I forget to write my “done” list. I was advised once to keep a success journal, so at the end of the day instead of thinking of all the things I haven’t done, I write all that I have achieved and it’s amazing how this boosts my mood and puts a spring in my step. It’s also a great book to look back through at the end of a quarter or year and see all that I’ve achieved.
Do you work from home? How do you stay on track? Let me know!
It’s so amazing to create the life you want by starting your own business and working from home. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s one of the hardest things i’ve ever done, but I always say “IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT”