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Thursday
Jan162014

Working From Home

Most people who work from home (including myself) face the same challenges.  You think you'll have all kinds of uninterrupted time to do your work, but in reality you have lots of distractions, just different from what you had at the office.  Even things like household chores (vacuuming, dishes, etc) can tend to pull you away from your work.  How can you focus?

First, a great way to work through your day is to allocate time slots to do specific things.   When allocating time to doing an activity, you want to be realistic about how long you think it's going to take.  If you find you are always spending more time than you thought, then allocate more time next time, then if you have extra time left over because you got it done early, bonus!

Next, when you allocate time to do something, there's the old Nike saying "Just Do It".  You may be thinking about all the other things that need to get done, but if you set time aside to do something, there was a reason.  It must be pretty important.  And that comes from looking at your list of activites and prioritizing them. 

Example - one of my clients works from home but she works for a large company.  She has drop dead deadlines for her work to be turned in.  But, when she's sitting in her dining room, she sees the dishes need to get done, the carpet needs to be vacuumed and oh, what's that, the kitty litter needs to be cleaned out.  But really, right now?  Right when she decides to sit down and do some work?  Really?  It's just the procrastinating brain trying to pull her away from something she really doesn't want to do. And what's her motivation for doing it?  Well, she has a good reputation to uphold with her manager and team.  So, when she writes these tasks down and prioritizes them, she sees she's gotta do the work.  Now.  End of story.

Another client of mine has his own business and works from home.  Same deal.  However, HIS motivation is quite different.  If he doesn't work on this proposal he hates doing, he's not going to get a chance to get the job to pay the bills.  So he needs to prioritize just as well.

If that doesn't work, you can also use those other tasks as "rewards".  You've got to work on the Smith project, but those dishes…ok, work on the Smith project for an hour, then do the dishes.  Or if an hour is too much, even a half hour, then dishes, then Smith project.

Assigning times to tasks can also take away the overwhelming feeling we sometimes get when all of the tasks are floating around in your brain and shows us that really, it's not going to take as long as we think.

Example:

Dishes - 15 min

Vacuum - 30 min

Groceries - 1hr

Smith Project - break this into tasks - spreadsheet - 1 hr, proposal - 30 min, etc

Suddenly, the day doesn't look so bad!

And when worse comes to worse, if you find that you absolutely cannot focus at home, leave.  See about going to a coffee shop, or joining a co-working space.

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