The funny thing is, I’ve planned to blog this topic for a LONG time. Definitely pre-COVID 19. Transitioning from working in a windowless, corporate cubicle for 7 years to popping out of bed, getting dressed, and settling into my office down the hall has been interesting. In a good way! Read more about that here…
Now that the world has temporarily shifted and a lot of people are finding themselves (either voluntarily or forcefully) thrown into this same lifestyle, I wanted to share what I’ve learned over the last 4+ months about how to stay sane, healthy, happy and productive while working remotely!
Because, guess what?! It CAN be done!
Tip #1: Discover the magic of batching tasks
If you’ve never heard of “batching” tasks or batch scheduling, it’s the idea that doing all “like” tasks at the same time helps you be more productive. The theory is that when your mind is focused on one thing, it’s easier to continue working on that one thing for a long period, rather than starting, working on it for a while, stopping, then coming back to it at a later time. I’ve found this to be 100% true so I batch my tasks ALL THE TIME! Things like blogging, editing, and content creation are things that are SO helpful to batch task and I get a lot more done by doing it this way.
Batching your schedule also makes sense. For example, if you have a meeting to go to (or at the moment, maybe a FaceTime call) and you have to shower, get dressed, do your hair & makeup, and leave the house (or make the call) it makes sense to schedule all of these types on the same day. Because what I’ve learned from Laura Vanderkam in her book ‘168 Hours’, is that every single second of your day counts, ESPECIALLY if you’re working from home now and it’s easy to get distracted and lose time out of your day. All of those minutes it takes you to put on makeup and pick out your outfit? They add up, and they are minutes you cannot get back. But the good news is, you can actually CREATE more time in your day by planning your time strategically, and one way to do this is by batching your schedule!
Tip #2: Create your Space
This one speaks to me because I cannot work well in a place where I don’t feel good about my surroundings. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy, but having a place to do work versus spend personal time is key for me, and I think that’s true for a lot of people.
If you haven’t experienced working from home before, you might feel a little strange about it at first. For some, you’ll get distracted by personal tasks and feel less productive. For others, you might not be able to step away from work and will find yourself feeling like you’re working CONSTANTLY. It’s different for everyone, so I recommend having a place (and setting work hours) where you work. Once you’re in that space, it’s work time. And when you’re done for the day, you leave the work there.
Tip #3: Protect your schedule
For those of us that work from home all the time, and especially those that are self-employed, we tend to be stereotyped…
“She doesn’t REALLY have to go to work.”
“You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, right?!”
“It must be nice to not have to actually work!”
All things I’ve personally heard, many times, and BOY are they so, so far from the truth. I completely understand that these comments aren’t coming from a place of judgement or negativity, and that my choice of self-employment isn’t exactly the norm. It’s normal to go to a designated office every day (one that doesn’t moonlight as your spare bedroom) to have a boss that isn’t yourself, and to be given tasks that you’re expected to handle. This is the definition of “work” for most people!
But when you work either for yourself, or maybe just from home, it tends to throw people for a loop and they may not understand that you, too, have things you need to do. Home or not, you also have tasks on your to-do list to keep things running. And in my case, I also have a boss…
Actually, I have a LOT of bosses.
Their names are “rent” , “Electric bill” , and “Groceries” for example.
If I don’t protect my schedule and make sure I get things done to keep my business afloat, my bosses don’t just get irritated with me. They can royally screw up my life. So prioritizing my to-do list and protecting my schedule is really important, and now that you might be working from home, I think it’s important for you to do the same! I know every single person is in a different situation and your life probably looks a lot different from mine if you have children that are home now, too. But I still think this idea can apply to you. It’s at some point going to be hard to say no to certain things when you are in the middle of a project, but you should. If you let them, even if they have the BEST intentions and just want to spend time with you or talk to you, other people will start to take control of your schedule, and that’s not good, long-term!
My suggestion is to set specific blocks of time that are “work only” hours and stick to them. Maybe right now it’s just a few hours a day because you have kids that need your attention. But no matter what, set your intentions and hang onto them!