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Working from home is pretty awesome, isn’t it?! The commute is fantastic. The dog snuggles are a bonus. And the snacks are plentiful. But, it sure can be hard to FOCUS when you work from home. Right?
I’ve been a work from home dog-mom/business owner for over six years now and working from home with the added challenge of dealing with chronic illness for over three. While it’s not always easy to be productive, I have developed some strategies that I hope you’ll find helpful!
Learning to Work Smarter, Not Harder
Prioritize ruthlessly: I’ve blogged about this before, but I believe it bears mentioning again! Start each workday with a plan by prioritizing the items on your to-do list in order of most to least time sensitive/critical.
My struggles with fatigue often mean that I won’t get more than a few things done each day. How do I stay successful? I focus on accomplishing the tasks that are critical first each day, which are typically the ones that involve the least amount of energy and receive the highest ‘payout’. Prioritizing ruthlessly by what is most important will help you to get more done each day. Want my free checklist to help you? Get it here!
Create an environment that works for you: The home office setup that works well for me may not be the one that works the best for you! I’ve read many blogs that recommend creating a traditional office for your home in order to be productive. Yes, that can be very effective for a lot of people. However, sitting in a desk chair all day long isn’t conducive to my productivity, because it increases my chronic back pain.
My home office set up is less structured. I often work at my desk, then my recliner, then while stretching on my yoga mat (while I am on a call or listening to a podcast). I’ll even work on blog posts while walking (I use the Otter app to record my thoughts!). My home office includes a variety of pillows for comfort, my foam roller, yoga ball, and yoga mat, and of course my thercane and heating pad too! Yes, it might look more like a physical therapy center than an office, but I make it work. One day, I’d love to be able to have a walking desk too.
Create Balance: For anyone who works from home, balancing the home and business sides of their lives can feel downright impossible, especially if the reason you began working from home was so you could spend more time with family. However, many home businesses actually fail because people don’t manage to balance business and home life. How can you juggle your family’s needs, your business needs and occasionally find some time for your needs without being a superhero?
You need to learn to create balance. If your family/partner/spouse isn’t supportive of your work from home job and requirements then you’re going to find it to be far more difficult. It’s not easy, but I promise it IS possible.
Learn to create balance by saying ‘no’ to things that don’t further your goals or bring you joy! Consistently review which task is necessary or not necessary in achieving your goals and which activities are helping you maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Give Yourself Grace!
Prioritize Self-Care: Yes, I’m talking about self-care and productivity in the same sentence. Why? Because I 100% believe that you will be more productive if you schedule time for yourself within your work day/week. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s critical, especially if you’re dealing with a chronic illness.
There are countless studies that show we are more productive and more creative when we eat well, sleep well, and take frequent small breaks. We talk about this frequently and share our self-care strategies in the Full of Grit and Grace Facebook group too.
Limit Distractions: Why yes, I can see you rolling your eyes here! Of course, you know you’ll be more productive with fewer distractions, but they seem to pop up when we are most vulnerable don’t they?! If you’re not getting anything done and can feel yourself falling into the trap of mindlessly scrolling Facebook for ‘work’, then go ahead and give yourself a short break!
Taking an action, any action will help propel you forward and give you more focus when you come back to the task. Yes, I run a social media marketing business, but I still consciously limit my time on Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you can’t seem to stay focused then try using a tool to limit your screen time or social media time. Instagram even allows you to limit time on the app natively now (Go to your profile, then your activity, and set a daily reminder with a limit if you’d like).
Several studies show that the human brain isn’t very good at multitasking and it’s even better at tricking itself into thinking it can. So quit trying to watch tv, blog, and talk to your BFF at the same time! While my husband has Fridays off and I don’t, I consistently reinforce that I love talking with him, but I can’t do it while I am working. So instead of interrupting me and launching into whatever he wants to tell me (after a lot of gentle reminders), he’s started to ask me questions during my breaks. Or he will ask me to take a break when I have a minute, which I have found to be far more conducive to actually finishing an email etc.!
So, although you may not have superpowers, you can still have a home life, a business life and some time for yourself. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, ask your support system for some help and try out a few of these ideas for being more productive.
What are your favorite productivity hacks?