If you are like me and you work from home and have kids, the summer can be a really tough time to get work done. AND just because you don’t have kids does not mean you are not affected by the “I work from home” virus. I say it’s a virus because it takes time for the routines, both the good and the bad, to set in and the symptoms of what you do show up. The symptoms of bad habits at home can be costing you clients.
What often happens when we work alone from our home is we find ourselves doing work that is not for our business, we feel alone with our work, we do the same unproductive work over and over, and we sometimes become emotionally deflated or physically drained, even when we are not doing anything physical. If you want to make your home office a highly productive space look at adding these 4 items to your work day.
Do the Hard Work First
The home office can be a very distracting place. If you want to be highly productive, do the work that is highest on your priority list first. If there is something you don’t like to do, then get it out of the way. Do the hard work first. Don’t procrastinate with an excuse that something, “must get done first” especially if you know it can wait. Don’t lie to yourself that your blog must get out when you know a sales call must be made, an invoice delivered, or a contract must be written. Do the work that brings in the money. It is not the sexy work. It is not the most fun work (although I have a few successful friends that would say sales is fun work). It is often tedious and uncomfortable. Do it first and then do the rest.
Changing your energy will help you stay focused. There has been research that I have read showing that humans can concentrate for a short period of time and be extremely productive. Beyond this time (which is about 90 minutes) we start losing our ability to stay focused. To reset your “focus-meter” you need to get out of the energy you are currently in. Set a 90 minute “productivity timer” and when it goes off, get up. Move away from your desk and physically leave your office. Stretch or do a short amount of exercise. Kelly McGonigal, PhD and author of The Willpower Instinct, suggests taking a ‘green break’ and going outside. It does not have to be for long, as short as 15 minutes, to recharge your “focus-meter” and get you back into your full-powered focus again.
Another way to get out is to take your work to a different location. Try working at a coffee shop or at the library. This is especially helpful on days when your kids won’t leave you alone and you have a deadline.
Connect with New Minds
Stop working alone all the time. I didn’t realize how important it was to talk to others about what is and isn’t working. This is true for both business work and personal things. When we share what is going on we get feedback from others. We get to hear insights that may be new information for us or known information with a different perspective. It is impossible to make changes in our businesses or our lives without new insights that lead us to new discoveries, routines, actions, and ideas. Get out and have a lunch or coffee every few days or weeks. Attend networking events. Read a blog, new articles about your industry, or a book. Follow or hire an expert/mentor to get insights you did not have before. Join a mastermind group. Go to a Meetup meeting or attend a Google Hangout for a discussion on a topic you love. Don’t get stuck in an old mindset. Always be learning and growing.
Make Your Working Space a True Workplace
Is your office also a place for your entire family? Do the kids feel they have open access to your workplace, even when you are working? You need to set some boundaries for yourself and for your family. If you don’t have a separate room for your office and you need to share the space then when is it your “workplace” and when is it a “home space”? Try to physically block off your work space from the home. If you have a door on your office, then close it when you are working. If you don’t have a door then make a decision when your business is open and put up your office’s “open hours” sign so everyone, including you, knows when the space is an office. Let your kids and your spouse know when they can interrupt you and when it is important that they don’t (e.g. when you are writing or on the phone). Set your 90 minute “productivity timer” outside your office so when it goes off you will have to get up and out of your office and your kids will know you are available for them.
Don’t let your home space stop your productivity. Make your office a true business space. Give yourself time to focus and time to regenerate. Connect with amazing people to grow your business relationships and your mind. And finally, don’t put off the work that makes you money. There are many successful 6-figure and 7-figure businesses that operate out of the owner’s home. This can be you too.