I often keep laundry in the dryer until I need to use the dryer again a week later.
I have to make at least one trip back home during the day because I’ve forgotten something I really need.
And some days I forget to shower.
I have no hesitation in arguing that I don’t have my shit together (but really – does anybody?).
But if there’s one thing I’ve got going for me, it’s my ability to get. shit. done.
Doesn’t matter how many things are on the to-do list and how few hours I’ve got in a day – I can prioritize like a mother and get the important shit done.
It’s this productivity that’s allowed me to run a business primarily on my own for the last four years.
It’s this dedication to consistency that’s helped me publish over 300 blog posts while maintaining a regular presence on numerous social media channels.
And it’s this go get’em attitude that always has people asking me “how the hell do you do it?”
It’s all about time management, friends.
We’ve all got the same 24 hours in a day. People who get a lot of shit done haven’t found a way to squeeze in a few more hours; they’ve learned how to make the most of the hours they’ve got.
So today I’m sharing something a little different, outside my usual healthy, spiritual fitness kind of stuff. Today’s post is for someone who’s working from home who’s struggling to get the work that matters done. Maybe you run your own business, maybe you’ve got a side hustle, maybe your office allows you to work from the comfort of your living room.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt about it – working from home presents some unique challenges. One second you’re on a roll with your latest report, and the next you’re rummaging through the fridge. How did that even happen??
However, all this being said, even if you don’t work from home and you’re simply looking for a few simple ways to make the most of your time, I think you’ll find some helpful nuggets in here.
Productivity Tips for Working From Home
Tip #1: Batch your tasks.
Do you have a bunch of emails to respond to? Tons of social media posts to create? Newsletters to write, laundry to do?
Batch your tasks. What exactly does this mean? It means doing all of your related tasks in one sitting, or at least as much as you can. I find this to be especially helpful when it comes to content creation.
Once or twice a month, I set aside a couple of hours and pump out as much content as I can. I record podcasts, I write blog posts, and I write social media posts. Then I create all the required graphics. Then I schedule it all.
Working in this way allows me to stay within one area of my brain. For example, I’m not going from the analytical side at 8am to do some accounting, then to the creative side at 9am to write a few social media posts, before going to the coaching side at 10am for a session, then back to creative, and so on. We expend so much less brain power when we focus on related tasks within the same work block.
You might not be able to answer emails once a month (but wouldn’t that be amazing?), but you CAN set aside three time slots throughout the day that are dedicated ONLY to emails and nothing else. Ditch that multitasking mindset and stay focused.
Which brings me to my next tip….
Tip #2: Minimize distractions.
For a slightly ADD, hardcore introvert like myself, offices seem like one of the most awful, distracting places on the planet. I resisted the idea of co-working spaces for SO LONG because the idea just seemed so horrible. But working from home has just as many distractions.
Spouses, children, animals, TV, the fridge, neighbours, and let’s not forget there’s no one keeping tabs on your social media usage throughout the day 😉
If you can’t send your partner or your kids or your animals away, communicate the need for quiet time. Let the other parties know you’ll be able to give them lots of attention whenever you’re done whatever task you’re working on. Animals probably won’t understand, but get them a bone to chew or something else to keep them busy.
And if the distractions continue to be too heavy, there are always coffee shops. In fact, I’m sitting in one writing this very post, due to distractions in my apartment!
Tip #3: Time block
Time blocking follows a similar process as batching; you give yourself a block of time to work on nothing but one specific project. If you can’t spend an entire day creating content once a month, you can surely set a timer for 30 minutes and do nothing but write. You can set a timer for an hour and do nothing but that report your boss asked you for.
During that block of time, you do nothing else. No emails. No running off to the bathroom. No checking of the Instagram. That block of time is only for your chosen task.
If you thrive off of deadlines, you’ll also find this helpful. Once that block of time is over you’ll likely have another task to give your full attention to. Be strict with your boundaries and don’t go over your time! As you get into the routine of doing this more and more, you’ll begin to learn the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to each task.
Tip #4: Outsource
Outsourcing is allllll the rage in the entrepreneurial world these days, but it’s a valuable option, whether you run your own business or not. With outsourcing, you pass one of the items on your to-do list off to someone else. More often than not this is within a paid relationship, however the amount you pay can vary dramatically.
There are online resources like Upwork where you can find freelancers to do literally ANYTHING for you. I’ve used it many times and have had mostly great results (any time they’ve been less than stellar, it’s been because I didn’t clearly communicate my needs or do my due diligence in hiring the right freelancer).
But what if you don’t run an online business or want to have someone else write that proposal for you? Outsource something else. Start getting your groceries delivered. Pay someone to come clean your house once every two weeks. Ask your partner or kids to pick up a couple of extra household tasks.
There is always extra help available. Most of the time, you’ve just gotta ask.
Tip #5: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
I can’t say this enough: you need to prioritize the work that actually matters.
Tinkering with your website? Not as important as serving your clients.
Sorting your email inbox? Not as important as writing that report.
The dishes, the laundry, or the vaccuming that needs to be done? Not as important as basically anything else on your list that contributes to your bottom line.
This takes some real conscious effort and a willingness to let some things in life slide. Your website may not be perfect, you might not be as organized as you like, and your house might be a little messier than usual.
That’s fine – in the big scheme of things, those things don’t really matter.
What matters? Creating a bomb-ass piece of content you feel stoked about. Delivering a kickass proposal. Finding new people to serve in your business and actually serving them.
In the book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield makes the distinction between “urgent” and “important”. Oftentimes, what’s urgent isn’t actually important. The work that’s important is the work that will move the proverbial needle in your life forward. Urgency is usually placed on us by others to serve their needs.
Don’t forget about your needs.
If you’re a productivity junkie like I am, you’ll love these books:
The One Thing by Gary Keller
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
Deep Work by Cal Newport
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
How do you stay focused and productive in light of distractions? What’s your BEST productivity tip?