Ep 35: Staying Productive While Working From Home

Nov 13, 2020

Today we’re going to talk about how to stay productive while working from home. I know during these crazy times, and this crazy year of 2020, so many people have gone from having stability of a nine to five office job to having to take their work home with them.  Maybe you have kiddos running around who may or may not be a bit distracting to your work, or maybe it’s just all about you having to figure out an entirely new routine that works for your new life. But that being said, I’ve been working from home for nearly four years now, and it did not come without struggle in the beginning. Especially just trying to get a good routine set into place so that I could be productive while being my own boss.

I know you guys might have a boss to answer to normally, but when you’re at home, it really is up to you to make sure you’re staying productive. And to make sure you’re staying on track and not letting the daily distractions, like kids that are running around and the lunches that need served and the dishes that need done, to overwhelm and distract you from what you should be doing. So on this episode, I just want to talk about these different areas and give you guys some tips and tricks to help you stay productive while working from home. These are things that I’ve implemented into my life that I’ve just found to be beneficial to working from home.

I know that if this is a problem area for you, you’re probably ready to head back to your office.  But on the other side of that, if you can learn how to work productively from home, you will learn to love it. I’d like to chat about the number one reason I think people struggle with productivity at home, and honestly it’s a lack of schedule. In the beginning, I would just wake up, maybe eat breakfast, maybe not then sit down at my computer and just grind until my partner got home. That is so wrong for many different reasons. I’ve built my own business. You know, I didn’t have a boss at all to answer, I didn’t have structure except for what I created, which was none in the beginning. It just made it so difficult to feel accomplished during the day and actually realize that I created a business that didn’t have to be run like a nine to five, but that’s very difficult to understand in the beginning.  We fluff our day full of busy work and don’t even realize it. A lot of where this lack of productivity comes from is a lack of a schedule. I want to start there and talk about implementing a healthy schedule into your daily routine.

 Right now I would love for you to think about the hours that you should be working in what days you should be working them. If you are typically working a nine to five, really think about that day, what could you cut out of that? I know this sounds kind of counter-intuitive maybe to what we should be talking about, but there’s a lot that you probably do at your day job because you have to be there nine to five, but guess what? You now work from home. You don’t need to fill an hour or two just hanging out in your email box. Maybe that’s an hour or two that you can clearly cut out of your day, because before you were just kinda using it to fill the time. I’m sure that you could buy back a couple hours of your day by just really thinking about this precious time right now. On the other side of that, think back to how many hours you want to be working and what days.  We’re going to pull up the calendar on your computer and we’re going to time block. I’ve talked about this in a previous episode, you guys have probably done or heard about time-blocking before, but especially when you’re working from home. Let’s say for the sake of this conversation, you’re going to work Monday through Friday. You’re going to start at 8:00 AM and you’re going to cut your day off at 3:00 PM. Usually it’s like nine to five, but say you’re kind of an early bird. I would love for you to block out that amount of time to start. And then whatever time you’d like to eat lunch, go ahead and put in a half hour or an hour, however long you want to take in the middle of your day. Whatever time you want to eat lunch, do this every single. I recommend you have a specific day for every aspect of your business, if possible. So for example, on Thursdays, they are my podcasting days. All day I focus on podcasting and I try not to let anything else cut into the day to distract me, but I also schedule breaks throughout the day I schedule lunch. Then I make sure that I’m done at three. Now, once three o’clock rolls around. Assuming I hit the marks that I wanted to hit for the day I’m completely done. I feel satisfied and I feel productive because I got what I was supposed to get done. When you’re working from home, it is so easy to get caught up. 

Let’s admit it right now. Your to-do list is never ending. If you don’t time block and you don’t set goals for the day,  at least a couple of small goals. Don’t go crazy. You don’t need 10 things done. If you don’t feel like you’ve gotten something accomplished during the day, you’re not going to feel like you’re done working. That’s why you hear about the people who work from home and they work from 8:00 AM to like midnight and they never stop. They have their head down at their desk and they’re in grind mode. That’s because they have not figured out the big needle movers in their job or in their business that they need to be focusing on for that day. They never feel like they’re done. And that’s a problem, especially if you’re a busy mama with kids because you have your kids coming in and maybe asking you for three things, they need you to make them lunch. They need to be driven to soccer practice. You have to schedule these things into your day so that you can work around them and make sure that you’re getting the important tasks done. So step number one is creating a schedule for yourself. Don’t just wake up, sit down at your computer and grind all day. And with that schedule comes removing some of the items that you maybe did when you were sitting at a desk at your nine to five job in an office setting, removing some of those items that were just time fillers. There’s a lot of them. Create that schedule on your computer. You can link it up to your cell phone. It is so much nicer when you understand exactly what you should be focusing on for the day.

It’s crazy to me how many people don’t use a schedule. I didn’t use a schedule on my computer for years. I literally had a notebook and pen. And what I realized happened is I never made time for things that I should make time for.  I would end up just moving them to the next day and really never felt like I was getting anything accomplished. I would be getting stuff accomplished, but it really didn’t feel like it. So I never stopped working. It’s a very easy trap to fall into, especially when you’re working at home and your computer is always sitting in front of you. So with that being said, I want to emphasize, have a start and an end time to your day schedule in time with your kids. Schedule in any important things that you want to prioritize. 

If you start to follow this calendar really, really specifically, you’re going to make sure that when you’re with your kids, that two hours that you have blocked for them to have a game night that you’re fully present with them. And you’re not thinking about what you didn’t accomplish during the day, because you time blocked time to accomplish those things. And if it doesn’t get done, it gets rolled over to tomorrow. You do not cut into your family time with work time. That is so vitally important, mamas. It can be so easy to bring your work home with you and you’d need to learn how to shut it off, especially on the weekends. If you guys chose to work Monday through Friday, shut it down Saturday and Sunday and just turn it off. It’s so important. And emphasizing again, take breaks. Try to get up at least once an hour from your desk. Move around. Even if it’s for two minutes, go outside, look at the trees, listen to the birds. That’s what I do. Just go have a snack, go peek on your kids. Go tell them you love them.. But take a break. Get up because I’m telling you, if you sit down for five hours at your desk, your productivity goes down and just crashes. So get up, take breaks, walk around, schedule yourself that lunch, eat something healthy. Don’t just try to grind out the day at your computer. It’s so easy to do, but it’s just not productive at all. 

Let’s talk a little bit about your morning routine.  I’ve mentioned in the past, that I used to just sit down at my computer and just start grinding my day away. This doesn’t give you any time for personal development. It doesn’t give you any time for mindset or for you to set an intention for your day. I know that this sounds maybe crazy, or maybe it’s nothing that you’ve considered doing before, or maybe you have a killer morning routine, but I think it’s so important to create one. It can be 15 minutes or five minutes. Let’s say you don’t have much time in the morning. Just plan for five minutes of you sitting down somewhere quiet and just really setting an attention for what you would like to accomplish during the day. Maybe you have an hour. Go on a walk, go to the gym, just do something that makes you feel powerful. Then take a few minutes to just think about life. Think about life and what you’re doing this for. Get your mind in the right place before you sit down to tackle the day.

You’re just going to feel so much more powerful going into it than you did before. Being able to start your day powerfully. It’s going to course correct the entire day.  I found that if you don’t do this in the morning, a lot of times after working all day, or even if we just work a few hours, we’re just too tired at the end of the day to do this. One thing I’ve been incorporating into my morning routine is a gratitude practice. I feel like the more you can be grateful for what you have, the more greatness that’s going to come to you. By just thinking of three things that I’m grateful for, and it can be something as silly as the birds chirping outside or another one that I love is just how happy my dog is when I take him to the beach. I love taking him in the morning and just watching him run and play. And I always think to myself, if I can just be as happy as a dog at the beach today, if I could be as happy as a dog at the beach every day of my life, then I lived a pretty  good life. I know that’s silly, but practice gratitude. Be grateful for your kids, even if they’re screaming and running around your house and maybe it would annoy you normally, but be thankful for them today. Practice that gratitude. Bring more wealth into your life by being grateful for everything that you already have. 

Another way to increase your productivity is to use an online tool. Something like Trello or Asana. I was using Asana. I just switched to Trello as a few of my team members preferred it.  I would say that that has just helped keep my head so much clearer. I had been using notebooks before. And not only is it super easy to just lose that piece of paper. I guess I have a little bit of OCD because if I ever crossed anything out or I didn’t like my handwriting or something, I would have to redo the whole sheet. So Trello makes it so it’s super easy. You can create checklists on each item that you make. You can create a board where you move things from to-do to done and talk about feeling productive when all your to-dos move over to the done section. You can schedule things, you get reminders popping up on your calendar. It is just so much nicer than just flying by the seat of your pants. And you can create boards for different aspects of your business or your job. It’s just a great way to keep yourself organized, without a bunch of pieces of paper, cluttering your life and stressing you out.

Another tip is for anyone that takes phone calls or schedule meetings, a really awesome app is just a calendar scheduling app. The one I use is literally called Calendar. If you go to calendar.com/scheduling, you can set up, I believe it’s two time slots for free. Whether you have 30 minute meetings or hour long meetings, you can set your schedule. Thursdays are my podcasting days. I have 45 minute time slots for interviews for podcasting. And you can only book on a Thursday because that’s my day dedicated to podcasting. You can get as specific as you want here. If you only want to have team meetings on Mondays, and they’re 30 minutes, you can create 30 minute time slots available on Mondays. And this calendar actually links up to your desktop calendar. When you’re time blocking, it’s going to make sure that you’re not overlapping your obligations. You’re making sure that you’re getting things done productively. That’s another awesome tool that’s going to help you guys stay productive and keep on that schedule. So I hope that you guys can utilize those tools and just really let them help you and your business and your job moving forward. And just keep you a little bit more sane when you’re working from home.

And I will be honest, no matter how temporary your work from home situation is, I think it’s very crucial for you to have a space that’s for work only, especially if you have kids where they know, if you’re sitting at this space, you’re working and hopefully it can be somewhere that’s away from the noise. I would love it if you’re working at the kitchen table for you to get the heck out of there, because if you’re anything like me, if I’m sitting there and the dishes need done, or if there’s any type of mess, I’m distracted. I’m looking around the room right now, if there’s a mess around me, my head is messy.

See how much more productive you feel when you actually get these things done and you start to feel accomplished. I would love to hear if these productivity tips and tricks have helped. I have gone through a love, hate relationship with working from home. And now I absolutely love it because I’m able to schedule my days in the way that is most beneficial for me and my family. Especially with a little one on the way where I will be working from home with him. I am going to be probably pivoting how I increase my productivity!

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