As I write this blog, I am surrounded by temptation: the kitchen pantry (my favorite snack is in there); the television (I’m positive a World Cup game is being played right now); my window (I wonder which neighbor just pulled into the driveway?). Yes, I’m working from my home office today.
Working from home, as you very well may know, has its perks and its challenges. Self-discipline and focus are a must. Productivity can take a dive as soon as you leave the office “just for a quick second”- because that often turns into a 15 minute diversion. Add the estimated 20+ minutes it takes to get refocused on the task at hand, and suddenly you are behind the eight ball for the remainder of the morning. Yes, you heard that right; 20 minutes to get back on track! A recent study conducted at the University of California, Irvine indicated that most people take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from an interruption. Even if you are ahead of the curve on that statistic, you are likely losing valuable minutes each time a distraction or interruption interferes with your flow.
I thought I would share the mindset and strategies that work for me during those glorious days when I have the house to myself and nothing but a list of tasks to tackle from my home office.
Avoiding the Pitfalls
Wear One Hat: When I am inside the four walls of my home office, I am a professional. Not a mom, housecleaner, or landscaper. I do not allow myself to think about yard work, dinner prep, or catching a few minutes of the news despite being so close to the television. If any feelings of guilt begin to creep in (you know that little voice that says how can you ignore that task when you are sitting right here in the house!), I remind myself that making money is more important than a clean kitchen or manicured lawn. Money talks for me in these situations.
The Not To Do List: I was just recently introduced to this concept – the not to do list– and absolutely love the idea. We spend a lot of time reminding others what not to do (kids, spouses, coworkers). Have you ever tried it with yourself? As you identify your top 2-3 priorities for the day, create another list of tasks you promise not to do. I will not check email every 15 minutes…I will not browse FaceBook after I post for the business, I will not leave the office for a snack in the kitchen until after 2:00 PM. Be sure to write these “not” tasks down, as your mind will quickly forget the forbidden tasks and you just might find yourself on your 9th snack break at 11:30 AM. Seriously. I speak from experience.
Physical Boundaries: I am lucky enough to have an entire bedroom devoted to my office. I literally close the door when working, regardless of the fact that no one else is home. That physical boundary sends a message that I am at work, not at home. You may not have a door, nor a single-purpose room, from which to work. But that does not mean you can’t create some boundaries. If you share the space with other family members, be sure to have zones set up to ensure your work information isn’t getting mixed up with household paperwork. Communicate to family members which items in your office space are strictly yours, so the kids aren’t stealing your printer paper and scissors every afternoon. Consider purchasing a room screen/divider to truly have a barrier between your desk and the rest of the space/house. Get creative!
Proactive Planning: I know, I’ve said it a million times already. My apologies for sounding like a broken record, but this is yet another example of when proactive planning comes to your rescue. Think ahead about the distractions and interruptions you are likely to encounter while working from home, and do what you can to eliminate or minimize them. Remember that important conference call last month, when the dog was barking like crazy, the neighbor’s lawn service was disturbing the peace right outside your window, and you had no writing utensils within reach because your kids played art studio last night at your desk. Yeah, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Here’s to a productive work day for all my fellow work-from-home comrades. May the lawn mowers stay away and the left-over chocolate cake in the kitchen call someone else’s name today.
To Your Productivity-
Need a better plan for starting your workday? Check out my free productivity playbook, “Six A-Game Strategies to Kick Start Your Day” Make the most of each day, using these six essential steps. Or set up a complimentary Strategy Session with yours truly. I’d love to connect with you!