SET WORKING HOURS.
You need to treat this like a real job – like a going to an office and doing a job, job. Not a Saturday or day “off” where you can float around doing laundry here, chopping some veggies there, laying on the couch for a bit, picking up the house…etc. Intentionally set your working hours and during those hours nothing else that would not happen in an office setting needs to happen.
If you have kids at home you may need to be realistic with how long you can work at a time without stopping to make sure they aren’t bleeding somewhere, eating all the chips or bringing the garden hose inside to “water” things…sigh. Your blocks of time may need to be shorter if you have little kiddos at home. Honestly, working with small kids at home is a bit of a logistical nightmare, not gonna lie, you won’t get crap done unless you are intentional with your work time. This may translate to you having to get up earlier or stay up later and working during those hours. It’s not fun, but may be the reality at the moment.
Let your family members know your hours and explain that just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can do 80 loads of laundry and cook a 4 course meal by 5pm. It ain’t happening, nor should it if you are needing to work. Again, if it isn’t something that happens in a normal office, it doesn’t need to happen during your dedicated work hours.
I have found that if I am intentional with my time with my kids I can then focus better on a set block of work time without as much guilt, and consequently they are happier having got my full attention during that time. It takes mental work to be present knowing you have job work to be done too and it’s there at home with you, taunting you. Most people are used to leaving their jobs at the end of the day and not thinking about it again until 8am the next day. This will take some time to figure out and that’s ok!
DEDICATE A WORK SPACE.
I am guilty of working on the couch and in my bed – yep. Come on it’s SO cozy! I often start off my day drinking my coffee here while I answer emails and set up my to-do’s before moving to my office space. Over the years my “office” has been in various location including in my bedroom during construction projects, the kitchen table, a spare room and finally a corner of our basement. I now have a real desk, office chair, files, etc. It doesn’t have to be a big space but a space that dictates that that is where work happens. Your brain will learn over time.
BECOME ONE WITH TIME CHUNKING.
At the beginning of the day or the night before set up your to-do list with “chunks” of time dedicated to a specific task/goal. Don’t add items that are completely too large and unrealistic to get done in one day or you’ll just feel like a failure at the end of the day. Break them up into manageable pieces that you can feel good about accomplishing. I spent many many days/weeks/months in this cycle before realizing I needed to break up big jobs into smaller more manageable pieces so I felt a bit more victorious at the end of the day. Then, when you are in a “chunk”, do not deviate! Don’t check your email, your texts, facebook or answer your phone (unless your job dictates you have to). Focus completely until you can complete that chunk and move on. Whoever said multi-tasking was the way to go was a liar. It really makes you ineffective overall, trust me. This has taken years to learn the hard way. Naturally my weird artist brain is rapid-firing ideas, thoughts, antidotes, to-do’s and what not all day long, so this is not an easy one for me – I have to work at this.
I’ve been known to glue myself to my computer screen for hours upon hours trying to get a project done and then get up to find I have forgotten how to walk…not really but you get the drift. I do think I am more productive overall when I take calculated breaks. I like to get my home workout done mid-day, grab some food or a protein shake and get back to my desk within an hour. Also consider getting up and going for a 10 min walk, do some squats, stretch, run around with your kids for an hour and then get back to work.
Working at home it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing work when you shouldn’t be and you need to keep your work boundaries. Clients may know you are working from home but that doesn’t mean you have to answer their demands at 10pm. Family and friends also may need some boundaries as far as your working hours and when you are available and not. Boundaries keep us sane and set reasonable expectations so there aren’t hard feelings on either end of things.