Aaaahhhh, picture the scene; you are sat at home with your PJs on, you are watching morning television, you are popping to the make a cuppa as and when it suits you and if you can be bothered to get dressed you will just have a little meander around the shops <<< this is the image that lots of people believe is your every day life when you work from home BUT chances are that if you are working like this then you aren’t getting very much done. Ok, so the PJs would never work for me as I’m not going to rock that look for the school run or the dog walk AND I don’t think it makes a difference with what you are wearing when you are working from home most of the time. I love to snuggle up in my jeans or yoga pants. Comfort makes me more productive. I love working from home. I love the flexibility of it. I love the fact that I can shut myself up in my office and just crack on. It can be difficult to find a balance when you’re working from home. Lots of people are sucked into the trap of either being very easily distracted and doing everything but the job in hand, having people in their lives who just aren’t respectful that they work from home and drop by for coffee regularly or they work far too much because work is home and home is work and there are no lines between. Here are my top tips for being more productive whilst working from home;
1. Have A Dedicated Work Space
Have a place where you work. It might be that you can’t have a office at home and that’s fine BUT make sure you have a work area which is where you go and work. If you can include a desk in that work space then that’s ace but if you can’t then get a certain chair and table that you use to be your productive zone. My desk is my happy place. I love it. It’s set out exactly as I want it to be and I will gravitate there instinctively as soon as it’s work time. I have worked with ladies who have been super productive working at the kitchen table and some who have tried to work, laptop on knee, whilst watch morning TV and that one’s not quite so productive. Make sure your work space is light and airy and it’s set up just for you.
2. Have Some Elements Of A Routine
I know that some of the pleasure of being self employed is that you don’t have to work to a routine or anyone elses rules BUT I find that it increases your levels of productivity to have some sense of a routine. Know when you real “work time” is and the tasks that you are going to do within that work time. It’s not to say that you have to work everyday at these times or that you can’t work at other times but having the sense of a routine can really help you being productive. Know which day of the week you are going to write your blog, which day you will send your newsletter, which day you will work on learning and strategy, which day you will work on your Social Media and list building.
3. Work From A To Do List
When you have a zillion different things zinging around your brain you can end up being completely overwhelmed all of the time. You can sit down to your designated work time and have no idea where to start or what needs doing. You become so unproductive because you are so stuck. The first thing that you need to do is to free your brain of the zillions of things that are zooming through your brain. Spend some time and let everything out of your brain. I have done this in the past and ended up with 8 double sides of A4 paper. It’s important that you do this brain dump without any filter. You let everything out. If you leave anything in there then you will stay stuck. It might feel a little overwhelming still when you have the list but the idea is that you then take 5 of the most important/urgent tasks from the list and make that your to do list. You can then pop your brain dump sheets away, safely, in your desk or in a drawer, safe in the knowledge that nothing is going to get forgotten or missed, the list is safe, you can relax and concentrate on the tasks in hand.
4. Have Breaks
It’s important that you do have breaks throughout the day. It’s too bloomin easy to sit down at your desk on a morning and just work, work, work, head down, busy, busy. You need to move away at least a couple of times throughout the day. Have your lunch away from your desk, make a brew, take the dog for a walk. Having a little break will allow you to refresh and replenish your creativity and be more productive when you return.
5. Have Boundaries
Make sure you aren’t working 24/7 just because you work from home. Yes, it’s tempting to just get stuff done because it’s there or work a little later because you are at home or just work EVERY night and weekend for fear of not getting enough done or because you’ll only be successful if you are beyond exhausted and a bit of a wreck << that’s not true by the way. Schedule in time off. Make sure you aren’t working every night and every weekend. Don’t reply to emails and messages in the middle of the night because that will not only mean you are working but it will set a level of expectation with your clients that they will assume that you will keep at all times.
6. Avoid Distractions Like The Plague
One of the most common problems people experience is distraction, distraction can kill productivity. I don’t think that this is unique to coaches working from home but more of a general one. It’s so easy to get sucked into the Social Media vortex and, before you know it, you have lost hours and hours from your day. You popped on there to literally schedule today’s posts but you ended up checking in on what everyone else was doing, you got sucked into the “competitions” latest posts and then popped off to watch Rachel’s videos of her little girl and checked out Zoe’s holiday pictures. It’s so easy to fall into the trap. It’s important that if you have tasks in hand and it’s “work time” then you avoid the vortex. You can set a timer and allow yourself a prescribed amount of time to complete your Social Media tasks and as soon as the alarm buzzes then it’s time to get off. If you can’t trust yourself then you can also add an app to your computer that can effectively ban you from certain websites for certain periods of time. The Self Control App is a good one. Remember, you are more than welcome to spend hours and hours flicking through your Social Media newsfeed at times when you don’t need to be doing other things. I schedule in time within my week to check out Social Media and what seems to be working, sourcing great content to share with my audience and generally having (what we call in the North East of England) a mooch. The other types of distractions can be family and friends. Now, this one needs to be handled with a little more care. You need to make sure people know when you are working and make them aware that they can’t just pop around for a cuppa whenever they feel like it. It can feel a little mean at first but if you worked in a office they couldn’t just pop in to see you on a whim. Make sure that when family are going to be around at home you have plans and expectations in place about your work time and arrangements. It might be that you pop out to a cafe with the internet for a couple of hours or the family pop out for a couple of hours whilst you work.
7. Have Set Times For Checking In
You can waste hours by being reactionary. You can react to every email notification or Social Media ping and feel like you are being massively efficient. Actually, what you are doing is breaking your concentration and not completing the task in hand. So often when you pop off and react to stuff what ends up happening is that you completely forget what you were doing and where you were going with it and it takes you an absolute age to get back on track. Having set times of the day where you check and respond to emails and Social Media will mean that you know that they won’t ever get left for too long but that you can concentrate on other tasks in the meantime. You could say that you check in first thing, lunchtime and then at the end of the day and set aside 30 minutes to deal with and respond to stuff that needs your attention. Make Sure You Are Doing Some Form Of Money Making Activity Everyday You need to make sure that every day you are doing something that will grow your business. I have a post it note on my desk which says – What Can I Do Today To Grow My List & Serve My Fans? It means that I keep this at the top of my mind every time I sit down to work and don’t fall into useless activities that are bringing nothing to the party.
8. Outsource The Stuff That Keeps You Stuck
If you find that certain tasks result in you staying stuck for hours on end then these are the tasks that you need to think about outsourcing. I outsource lots of tasks to a Virtual Assistant who is part of Team Rockstars which I know will drain hours of time from my day and will distract me from the important tasks that I need to complete.
9. Be Accountable – with a carrot and not a stick
I love nothing better than ticking things off my to do list. It’s super motivating and really does make me smile! It’s important that you are using your to do list as a carrot and not beating yourself around the head with it. You may also want to team up with another fabulous business owner and become accountability partners. Check in with one another on a weekly basis and commit to getting stuff done. Allow them to call you on your stuff and do the same for them. You can also join an accountability group or Mastermind group to assist you along the way.
10. Protect Your Work Time
Remember that your business is important, it’s important that you get time to nurture and grow your coaching business and that it’s not a negotiable. You need to find a balance between working and time off but when it’s work time it’s important that you protect that work time. Get help with childcare when you need it, make sure you don’t get distracted by the housework (not one I suffer with but nonetheless a common one) and get into your happy place (aka your work area) and get on with the tasks in hand.
Hope you’ve picked up some tips to help you ROCK working from home.
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