In the last post, I covered the joys of working from home alongside a few of the issues that actually get in the way of getting your work done. Yes, the convenience and flexibility is a treat however it can be a slippery slope as it is even easier to relish an incredibly immaculate house whilst in one’s sweatpants all day developing an increasing waist line and a slowly degenerating control of one’s social habits.
But even the rockstars of time-management have had to train themselves to resist the temptations of online shopping (that means you Amazon Prime) and the endless pit of non-information that is called the Huffington Post. Granted this may not work for everyone and I have been down many paths, trying out different strategies in hopes that I might get to my home-office and knock out a blog post, finish processing an assignment, tweak my SEO, follow-up on phone-calls and update my social media all in one eight hour stretch. But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me.
So, being that 20% of what I do is actually behind the camera and the remainder of my work is in my office, I had to figure out a system that helps me to accomplish something without being overwhelmed and I think I finally nailed it.
1. Quit Fibbing
Last time I mentioned that I have a super-fast commute. Bed to the kitchen for coffee and make my way to the office. Years ago, as soon as I woke up and tamed my caffeine fix, I was working. Or so I told myself.
Think about it. In the 8 or 9 hours that we are at work how much time are we actually doing something that is productive? According to Forbes, 46% of us spend time at work looking for a new job. Seriously? Kinda bold but ok. And how much time is wasted on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter? CNBC says that we spend 230,060 years on social media in a month….10 bucks says that the majority of this is while on the job.
So, those of us working from home have those same distractions and no one but ourselves are policing us. What is a girl to do?
Well, this girl has found that the best way to avoid the traps of the endless chasm known as the internet is to give in. Yes, that is my strategy. Alarm goes off, take my dog Charlie out, hook him up with some kibble, get my coffee and go immerse myself in the trappings of all things social media related and the latest news until I can take no more. This process usually lasts midway through my second cup of coffee when I am finding that what should be making me feel intellectually superior has made me into somewhat of a schlub. My brain feels lazy as it maneuvers between the hot topics in Washington D.C. to the latest celeb baby-bump photos as one can only read so much of The New York Times. And then, I am done. Yep. Put the kabbosh on that as I am thoroughly over it and am now mildly depressed that I cannot get that 3 minutes and 7 seconds back that I spent on YouTube learning how to open a can of tuna sans can-opener.
The key is I just don’t try to fool myself anymore. I do my splurge and then once I get this out of my system it is go time. I close all of the programs that are unrelated to the work I have previously laid out for myself the night before this includes FaceTime, e-mail, Skype, my internet browser and finally turn my phone to mute. Works like a charm for at least two hours of solid, impress myself, productivity.
2. Put On Pants
This brings me to point number 2 from the last post regarding distractions in general. So, once you get the compulsive surfing out of your system, how do you keep from succumbing to the treat that is Target on a Tuesday? And what about the fact that your kitchen floor hasn’t seen a mop in two weeks, you haven’t returned your mothers’ phone calls and you’re down to the last roll of toilet paper?
Might I suggest putting on pants? Yes, sweats are God’s gift to comfort however they are more conducive to binge watching the entire first season of Orange is the New Black accompanied by a Costco-sized box of Raisinets and Jimmy John’s on speed-dial. Even better, before you put on said pants, get moving. Yes, get-up and get out. Your gym misses you. The out of doors misses you. There is nothing like 45 minutes on the Gazelle to make one ultra-focused and able to sit in one place for as long as it takes to finally get something that matters done. Finally, when there is little energy left for anything that requires more than lifting a finger, get yourself into something that is less than embarrassing for public and you might find that the focus comes a little easier.
When there is no difference between being at home and being at work, it is beyond easy to allow the two mindsets mold into one. The only thing that has prevented this for me is making a schedule, actually more like a list of what needs to be done that following day…and stick to it. It’s one thing to be constantly working, thinking I can get to things later since I am always in the office…nope, that is called procrastination. Once it’s all done, step away slowly, take pause and decide to be done. Seriously, unless you are searching for the Higgs-Boson particle, the work day does need to have an ending.
4. English as a Second Language
This is the toughest one. I can go for hours without talking to anyone and it gets super easy to make it in a 24-hour habit. Having said close to nothing all day besides “sit, stay and good boy,” English starts to feel like a second language. But there is hope, not a cure but at least a buffer. Maybe we don’t actually have to talk to anyone but if we are in the vicinity of a live-conversation, it can be contagious.
Pack up your things and head-out to a coffee-shop, cafe, diner, your call. Initially, the chatter can be slightly distracting but in some cases listening in on another conversation can do wonders for your self-esteem especially when you are audience to a first-date over raspberry scones and an extra-hot caramel macchiato. Really, just being in the company of others is an excellent deterrent for denigrating social skills.
And if eaves dropping doesn’t appeal to you as a remedy, you might consider any of the kazillion networking groups that are available, especially those geared towards the self-employed. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce or visit Meet-Up which has a host of offerings for just about everyone. Best yet, start your own show….yes, a weekly get-together with that one friend you have that is in the same boat and can relate to the beauty and the challenges of being your own boss, administrative assistant, janitor and IT Department.
Granted there is a never-ending list of ideas to combat the challenges that working from home brings with it but now it is time to follow my own advice as I have yet to entertain to my online “news” obsession, am still milking that second cup of coffee and am feeling a bout of restless leg-syndrome coming on as all of the above is easier said than done!