Anyone who has worked from home longer than a year knows there comes a time when the entrepreneurial honeymoon wears off.
Days blend together. Work is always staring at you in the face. You finally know the real meaning of the term ‘cabin fever’. Why get dressed because, meh, who is going to see? Mold starts growing on your shoes and the meaning of ‘outside’ becomes a foreign concept.
Here’s how to stay focused, productive and balanced despite the office always being just a few feet away.
16. Prioritize, Categorize and Purge.
It is impossible to do everything at once or interact with everyone who wants to. The simple solution is to prioritize, categorize and purge into 3 categories: stuff to do today (most important), stuff to do over the next week (less important) and stuff to do when you have the time (least important). Then purge the rest from existence.
Get rid of distractions in your life (this includes people) using apps or programs that shut off instant messengers, keep you away from forums, social networks and email programs while you are working. Only check email at certain times of the day. If you find yourself checking any of the above – quickly say what you have to say, then leave.
15. Stick to a schedule, sort of.
One of the biggest challenges working from home is the ability of flexibility. While sticking to a schedule is impossible for some people, spontaneous bed times can be a challenge for others. Try a mix of both. Work can start at 8am or 8:30am. Bed time can be 11pm or midnight. For night owls you can try a reversal of work and bed time.
The point is to keep as regular as possible keeping a schedule around the same times every day. You’ll be able to better plan your days and stay more mentally focused.
14. Adapt the productivity concepts of big software companies and teams.
There are many concepts big software companies and teams use to increase productivity that is worth looking into and adapting even for a company of one. From simple concepts such as the Pomodoro Technique to more complicated methods such as Waterfall, Agile, Prototyping and more.
Adapt whatever bits of those processes work for you and your clients. Doing so increases productivity and focus while freeing up some of your time.
Another concept automation and delegation which can actually make you more money by freeing up your time and paying someone else to do your less desirable work.
For instance, if you charge clients $100 per hour but boring administrative work eats up 5 hours a week, wouldn’t it make sense to pay a virtual assistant $20 per hour totaling $100 per week and you can spend those 5 extra hours making $400 more a week instead?
13. Avoid awkward moments with the UPS man.
Get dressed. Not in your pajamas, not in your underwear, thongs or boxers but dress for success. Not only will you feel more productive but you will avoid those awkward moments with delivery men. Unless of course, you have a crush on the delivery man then go ahead, answer the door in your undies.
12. Give your body and mind a break.
Every hour or two, get up and do something physical. Housework is a good way of giving your body a break from the time spent sitting. Or you can spend 15 minutes reading a book, doing art projects, talking with a neighbor, going for a walk or playing with a pet.
11. Every week spend a whole day with your family and a whole day with yourself.
Everyone needs time off especially for themselves and family. Set aside a day for family time going to the park, having a picnic or just watching a movie together. Then give yourself a whole day to relax, study or whatever it is that makes you feel most relaxed. If you can’t set aside two whole days per week at least set aside a few hours.
10. Leave work at work.
While the office is constantly staring at you in the face resist the urge to do “just one more task” before bedtime. That one more task can easily turn into hours worth of work until you are a caffeinated, wide eyed zombie at 3am . It’s better to have a cut off time per evening where all work stops and personal life begins.
9. Continue your education.
There is always something new to learn. Not only does this boost your self confidence but your overall productivity. Whenever you can make time for this, make it. Even if you only have 30 minutes a day, ten minutes, one day a week, whatever, find the time to keep up to date with your industry and area of study.
8. Make the time for personal projects that help you reach the next level.
It might seem difficult to cut out time for personal projects with ongoing client work but never wait for that Free Time Unicorn that waves its magical wand to suddenly clear your schedule. It never happens.
You have to make time and carve it out on your own. Personal projects are very important especially when it helps level up your life or business.
Even an hour or 30 minutes per day adds up. Or you can dedicate one day a week. Regardless of what time frame you set guard this time like a Fabergé egg. No one cares as much about your personal projects as much as you do and no one else will carve the time out for you. You have to make this time yourself.
7. Keep boring to-do lists.
I believe if you want to get anywhere in your career or life keeping a to-do list is a MUST. You can go the old fashion route using pen and paper. Or you can use free online applications such as Asana or Trello.
Keep several categories of to-do lists such as:
- Things To Do Today (must be done today. can include personal, business and client related.)
- Things To Do This Week (client work & deadlines. no personal stuff)
- Personal Goals (personal goals only. no client stuff)
- Business Goals (business related only such as accounting, business goals, etc. no client or personal stuff)
- To Do List Backlog (master list for everything else. when a thought pops in your head throw it in here to categorize later)
It’s boring. I agree. But it is necessary and you’ll get way more done and be way more focused then being without one.
6. Make self improvement your best friend.
One of the ways our mind stays stagnant and stale is by staying too much within our comfort zone. Striving for self improvement forces us to see different perspectives, possibilities and options around us. It keeps things fresh, new and a bit more exciting. Self improvement can include education, mental exercises, exercise, spirituality, meeting new people and even traveling.
5. You are not a race car. Stop burning out.
Burnout kills motivation and productivity. Sometimes we believe the more we work, the more we achieve. It’s simply not true. The more we work, the slower we become especially if it happens day after day after day.
Take care of yourself: eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep and take the time to destress before bedtime on a daily basis. The outcome is a stronger body and a sharper mind that can think faster and type faster outperforming our tired and over caffeinated past self.
4. Help others as often as you can.
Helping others has immediate emotional benefits that can help destress your life, provide companionship, job skills and get you out of the house.
HelpGuide.org says, “Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine.”
3. Immediately deal with stress.
The only way to deal with stress is swiftly and immediately by whatever means possible. The best explanation for why is best elaborated by an inspiring man named Sean Stevenson in his video 4 Ways to Deal with Stress:
2. Feed your inner child.
Sometimes we are so busy being productive work at home adults that we forget to unleash that spontaneous, hyper inner child that allows us to really feel alive and connected.
Whether being creative means cooking an awesome chocolate cake or inventing a clumsy gymnastics dance combo in the front yard, taking the time to create and get in the flow of creation helps our overall well being.
1. Learn how and when to relax.
When home is both work and personal life, learning how and when to relax can be a challenge. Whatever you enjoy doing for pleasure do it at least a few minutes per day.
Make it just you and yourself, no one else. It can be anything from a relaxing bubble bath to playing a couple of card games. We all need a break from the responsibilities in life so be sure to treat yourself daily.