Working from home is awesome ... right up until the cat throws up on your computer. Or your neighbor, who you can only assume is building a time machine, starts firing up all sorts of power tools and noisy machinery across the street. Or literally EVERYONE you know calls and texts you throughout the day with their various requests (or meaningless conversation) because well, you work from home right? You can do whatever you want!
For many of you, working from home every once in a while was a considered a luxury that your company could afford you. I’ve been there when I worked in corporate, and I loved the days where I could just kick open the laptop form home. Now more recently though, because of everything going on in the world, you’ve probably spent more time attempting to work from home than you ever have in your life.
And then there’s you entrepreneurs. You’ve chosen to work from home! It’s exciting right?! That decision. Yeah there’s all kinds of question marks that you have (and you have become comfortable with the uncertainty) but to take your future into your own hands and build something that’s truly yours is something that most people don’t get to experience in a lifetime.
But the question is, which environment are you actually able to be the most productive: the home office or the office office?
In the office office, your coworkers often pose the greatest threat to keeping you from getting some real, heads-down work done. Am I right? I mean, they drop by your desk, engage you in conversation.. invite you to lunch. The social benefits of a workplace are definitely nice to have, but they can become a challenge if you're one that’s easily distracted.
At the home office, however, you don’t have all of THOSE distractions.. but you do certainly have some others. And while I do agree that there are a variety of things that can rattle your attention at home, the number one issue that I see most commonly is work from home professionals become their own worst enemy. Because you're not surrounded by coworkers, you're free to drop those pesky inhibitions. At the home office, no one's watching. You don't necessarily feel that same peer pressure or communal obligation to get stuff done. (Also: You don't have to wear pants.)
But in all seriousness, working from home is definitely an adjustment from working in a structured “job” environment. And to be successful at it, requires some technique. Having spent 15 years working in various office positions to now being self-employed for 6 years, I’ve learned a lot about what not only works for me, but what I have also found that works for the hundreds of self-employed clients that I serve all over the world.
So today I am going to hook you up with 8 of the very best tips that I can give you for how to actually work (and get stuff done) when you’re working from home! If you prefer to WATCH rather than READ here's the video for this training! I you prefer to read, go ahead and continue right down below! Let’s dive right in!
1. Get Your Mind Right
What’s your mindset in the morning when you have a job that requires you to show up at a specified time? While you may not always wake up with the best attitude, there’s still a level of commitment and discipline that can’t be ignored. Your work isn’t optional. You probably have at least some resemblance of a routine that you follow on the days that you work and when you’re going to a formal “job”, your morning commute can help you wake up and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk. But at home, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be much more jarring. Your perspective about your position is tremendously important!
So one of the best ways to give yourself a shot at a highly productive work day from home is to establish your mindset right up from that this is my job, and I have work to do! Now that may be easier said than done if you haven’t done the right work to PREPARE your mind to focus, which we’re going to be covering today as well, but this really is an essential point which is why I made it number one.
When working from home, do all the things you'd do to prepare for a regular work day: Set your alarm the way you normally would. Get dressed the way you normally would! Make your coffee (or go get coffee) the way you normally would. You can even set up multiple accounts in Google Chrome with different toolbars on the top -- for example, a toolbar for home and a separate toolbar for work – so when you “step in to your office” for your workday you switch in to “office mode.’
Your mindset is everything. And the level of success or struggle that you experience in working from home will tie directly to your thought process around it and the level of commitment you have to it.
2. Structure Your Day to Leverage How You Operate
When you work from home, you’re the boss. You’re the manager. Without things like scheduled breaks, staff meetings or lunch your to break up your day, it can be very easy to get out of balance and burn out.
The awesome thing about working from home is you can completely schedule your workday to your advantage and leverage when and how you operate at your best!
One of the things that I used to hate about working in an office was being told when I had to take my lunch hour. It was always at the mid-point of my day which is usually when I am in my sweet spot and at maximum focus. Additionally, as soon as I eat lunch by energy and drive tends to drop LIKE A ROCK! Are any of you like that?! It’s drastic!
So, now being self-employed, I understand that about myself and know how to structure my days accordingly. I’m up at 5:00am (because I love early mornings) and I pack my schedule from alarm straight through until noon. I take a brief 30-minute break at 8:30am but other than that I am hyper-focused for 7 hours and I consistently accomplish approximately 80% of my daily workload by noon every day.
Now, a couple reasons for that. First, I LOVE being self-employed and I LOVE having freedom with my time so being able to accomplish so much by noon every day gives me tremendous flexibility in my afternoon and evening schedule, and it a tremendous motivator for me. Second, I know my body and I know what happens after I eat lunch. My energy drops and motivation right along with it so I know I need to get as much out of my focus as possible before breaking for lunch.
Pause here. The point of me telling you this is not to convince you that you need to get up earlier and go blitz in the morning so you can take all your afternoons off. Nor is my point to make you feel like a failure if you are not highly-productive in the mornings.
The point is, YOU need to understand YOU. And you need to structure your work days to leverage how you are wired! Some of you are night owls and get your best work done between 9:00pm-midnight! Some of you are moms with houses full of kids, and you get your best work done whenever you can get your kids to leave you alone for 2 seconds. I get you, and I specific last tip just for you moms today as well.
The main thing is, when you work from home you can’t use your environment as an excuse for why you can’t get anything done. Everything is 100% in your control. It’s up to YOU to create a plan and up to YOU to structure your day in a way that will work to your advantage. Which leads me to another crucial tip..
3. Create a Dedicated Work Space
Listen to me. You HAVE to have a work space. It’s a must. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to be YOURS. Nowhere in the world is there a successful CEO of a successful business that does not have a workspace. It is an essential tool of working from home. And it really is a matter of your mindset.
If you do not believe that having a workspace is necessary for you to work from home, that may directly represent your level of commitment to working from home. If you feel selfish prioritizing a portion of your home for your workspace, that may directly represent the your own self-worth and/or the perceived value of the work you are doing.
Something shifts in your mind when you not only have a dedicated workspace that is yours, but also a space that fuels your senses. I LOVE my desk. I LOVE my workspace. When I sit in this chair it flips a switch in my mind. I’m ready to work. I’m comfortable. I’m focused. This is a matter of tools as well. I have absolutely everything I need at my fingertips to do the job I need to do. Nothing is lacking.
Now let me say this. I have been in business for six years. This is not my first office. This is my fifth. I didn’t start with all this. I earned it and worked up to it. But in every stage that I went through I did the very best with what I had.
The key point here is, the clients that I work with know that having a dedicated work space is a non-negotiable. You cannot expect to succeed at a high-level working from home if you’re not committed enough to give yourself a place to work.
4. Set Boundaries Around Social Media
Social Media is a time-sucking abyss that can consume and disrupt your entire day. It think most of us know this and I think most of us by now have probably found some ways to curve how much we interact with it. But what if your business is directly connected to your social media interactions? How do create a balance? Here’s some quick social media rules to live by..
First, I NEVER access nor browse social media from my laptop. If I go to social networks from my laptop it is for the sole purpose of scheduling/uploading content or responding to messages or comments on my current day content. That’s it.
Second, I log out of my social media apps on my phone at the conclusion of every use. This does three things for me. It limits notifications, distraction and keeps my phone quiet. It eliminates the ease of random social browsing (otherwise known as TIME-WASTING, ENERGY-SUCKING AND FOCUS-DRAINING). And lastly, it has trained me to be disciplined in only going to social media when I have a purpose and plan to spend time there.
Now for those of you who are social butterflies and are feeling really suffocated right now and about to have a panic attack, settle down. Here’s a bonus tip for you. Plan your browse time and schedule it in to your day. Maybe give yourself some 30-minute “social breaks” throughout the day to get your social fix. Just give yourself parameters, and discipline yourself to turn it off. And while we’re talking about boundaries, let’s go to number five.
5. Communicate Expectations to Everyone Who Needs to Know Them
Write this down. Where there is a lack of communication, people will draw their own conclusions. It’s amazing the perspectives that people will have of you when you work from home if you fail to establish that perspective for them. No you don’t just do whatever you want every day. No you can’t just cut off and go to the beach whenever you want. No you are not available at the drop of a hat to do anything and everything that they may ask of you at any given time. No you don’t binge-watch Netflix while working on your laptop with a bowl of pretzels close by your side all day.
Actually yes, you could do any and all of those things if you wanted to but not if you expect to have any resemblance of success in your work from home venture.
Parameters need to be established. Boundaries need to be defined. And both of those need to be communicated to your spouse, your kids, your mom, your best friend, your brother, your sister, your pastor or anyone else who might be apt to spontaneously call you, text you or show up at your house when you are trying to get work done.
Set the expectation up front, and make sure everyone know the parameters of your schedule and the boundaries that they need to abide by.
6. Plan Your Work Day the Night Before
Now I know you’ve probably heard this one before so I want to unpack this a little differently for you. One of the single greatest reasons why planning your work day the night before is such a powerful and impactful process is because of how it affects your subconscious mind.
We all know that we only use 10% of our brain power. That means that the other 90% of our brain power is subconscious, and THAT is where the real power is. Subconscious is the core of the Law of Attraction. So when you commit time to thinking, planning and outlining everything you need to accomplish during your work day tomorrow, you are basically giving your subconscious mind a detailed set of instructions for what you need it to work on while you are sleeping. This is the key to having supreme mental focus first thing in the morning.
I personally block 45 minutes off in my schedule at the conclusion of every day to plan out what I need to accomplish tomorrow. Once I form my work list, I take a picture of it so I have it in my phone. Then right before I go to sleep I re-read my work list and basically hand it over to my subconscious. I’m basically telling my mind, this is your homework for tonight. I need to you get creative, solve these problems, prepare these solutions and work through these details and be prepared to report back to me in the morning. Then what happens..
I wake up in the morning crystal clear about exactly what I need to accomplish with this new day! Plus, I usually have a tremendous amount of new creative inspiration!
I promise you, make planning your work day the night before a discipline and commitment every day and it will absolutely change your world.
Now here’s a tip for you moms out there, but honestly this work well for anyone.
7. Use Household Chores as a Work Timer
You might have heard the recommendation before that listening to just two or three songs in the shower can help you save water. It's true; hearing a few of your favorite songs start and end, one after another, can remind you how long you've been in the shower and shorten your wash time.
Why bring this up? Because the same general principle can help you stay on task when working from home. But instead of three songs off your music playlist, knock out one of your household chores!
For example, how long does a laundry cycle take to run through? It has a built-in timer right? So, use the time to start and finish something from your to-do list before changing the load. Committing to one assignment during the wash cycle and another during the dry cycle can train you to work smarter on tasks that you might technically have all day to tinker with. It give you a built-in deadline.
Write this down. Tasks expand to the time allotted. One huge problem that a lot of people have with working from home is that their work tasks are too broad and fail to give themselves realistic deadlines for completion. They just work on it. And if your goal for today is to write a new blog post, guess how long it will take you. Alllll day. But if you realize that it should realistically only take you 2 hours to write the post, 30 minutes to edit it and 15 minutes to get it optimized and posted to your site, then you can give yourself a 3 hour deadline and get it done!
Tasks expand to the time allotted. So think about the various things that you need to do around your house or with your kids through the day (on top of your work list) and consider how you might be able to use some of your household to-do list items as leverage to complete some of your work list items.
Hopefully that was good for you guys! 7 quick tips for how to ACTUALLY WORK when you’re working from home! If you have any other tips that I didn’t mention I’d love for you to drop those in the comments and of course if you have any questions, feel free to drop those as well!
Be sure to drop a like on the video and subscribe to the channel if you enjoyed that one Crew! I very much appreciate your time and attention and look forward to seeing you next time! Until then, take care, God bless and I’ll see you around the web!