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For many in a corporate job or a brick and mortar business working from home often feels like a dream- spending more time with the family; having more flexibility and freedom with your schedule. While all these are true, the reality of working from home may be much more challenging. It requires much more self-discipline, focus, and time management than one would assume if they never had to face it.
Right now, almost everyone gets a taste of how working from home looks like. I hear entrepreneurs on social media complaining that they are incredibly disorganised, overwhelmed, bored, procrastinating, and unable to focus. It affects their results, creativity, and raises their stress levels.
While building my 6-figure online business and my personal brand from home since 2012, I have developed several strategies that keep me on track and help me focus on what is essential and reduce overwhelm.
1. Block Off Time Slots For Work
While it may not be possible for every type of business, some adjustments could be made to create a healthy balance between working and resting during the day. If you can dictate your own schedule, focus on watching your productivity patterns. For example, I am at my most productive between 1 pm and 5 pm. It allows me to completely free my mornings, while my body and my brain wake up. I use that time to have a long coffee chat with my family, go for a walk, read a few pages in a book, and ultimately allow myself not to think of work altogether.
I block off time from 1 pm to 5 pm and let my family know I am unavailable. I break for dinner around 5 pm and might do a couple of low-impact activities. I might tweak something on my site, send a few emails, watch a training or two as I am starting to feel more tired and less efficient. After 7pm my working day is done, and the family time begins. Using the time when your brain is at its most active helps accomplish what needs doing much faster and with better results.
2. Prioritize High Impact Activities
Every day I make a to-do list with the most critical tasks that need to be accomplished. 80% of my list is focusing on my visibility, traditionally known as marketing and sales activities: networking, creating content, connecting to prospects and clients. Doing client work makes up 20% of my tasks. This is a good ratio for anyone who wants to grow their business, but in times of uncertainty, visibility is paramount. As sales may slow down naturally in the current economic environment, there are more people spending time online, and it presents excellent opportunities for getting on top of your target audience and for building relationships, which will pay off when the time comes.
The list needs to be small, 3 to 6 tasks at most, so it feels comfortable and doable to complete by the end of the day. If something cannot be accomplished due to an unforeseen delay, add it to the future list on the date when you can complete or follow up on it, and give it no more attention till then.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
Whatever it is that makes you feel frozen inside needs to get done first or it is likely to be put off and add to the time allocated to working, messing up the whole system. For some entrepreneurs, this could be doing a live video or pitching an article to an established publication.
But there is a secret. You need to figure out which of those scary things are only frightening before you start them. For example, while going live feels terrifying every time before the start, I get quite energized and even hyper sometimes during and after the stream as my adrenaline spikes up. Starting with energizing tasks will give you the courage to do things you resist doing.
This approach reduces procrastination and helps drive business forward while feeling “in the flow.”
4. Do It Together
Even with working about my productivity cycles and tackling the scary things first – sometimes it is hard to focus when you are the one holding yourself accountable.
I host Get It Done co-working sessions to tackle tasks that require extra focus. You can create these sessions using video conference tools like Zoom or even Skype and Facetime and invite some of your colleagues, friends, clients or even family members to join you virtually. The process is simple.
At the start, everyone shares what they hope to accomplish in the next hour, then the host starts their timer for about 50 minutes, all microphones get muted, and everyone starts working on their task. After 50 minutes, we reconnect and share our progress. If you have nobody to invite, I recommend using Focusmate.com, where you can get matched to a stranger and work on your task just as effectively.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
5. Learn To Unwind
Most entrepreneurs I know have trouble switching off, so it’s important for you to align your workday with your natural work/rest cycles so it becomes more manageable. While for some meditation and walks in nature may be the way they unwind and rest, other people cannot ever switch off. Their brain remains active even when they rest. If this is familiar, all you need to do is switch your attention from actively thinking to passively consuming.
A good movie or a funny dog video may be all you need to feel relaxed and at ease. Being aware of what makes you feel rested and understanding the nature of is key to creating a great work/life balance and make working from home lifestyle more like the one we imagine it to be.
How do you stay on track with the task at hand during times when you struggle focusing? Share your thoughts & ideas with us below!