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In this new day-to-day reality of dealing with the social distancing resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we as entrepreneurs are prepared for a lot of things, whether it’s a seasonal shift in sales, less traffic, or a host of unexpected family members joining us in our journey in trying to accomplish work from home tasks. Although the flexibility of working from home can leave us disorganized if left unchecked, it is this same flexibility that also attracts people to starting their own business. When fully embraced, having complete control of your day can be used to increase production and grow your business. Here are 13 ways to stay more focused and productive while working from home.
This Pandemic has in no uncertain circumstances left us unsure about how to cope in these strange times.
I know that this is a scary and isolating time both personally and professionally. I hope you’re staying safe and healthy, and that this article can help you with with some tips for staying focused and productive while planning for business challenges while working from home.
I personally had to be as agile from my old days of going from being a dancer, to a single mom, and then making the pivot many times as an entrepreneur. And while it can be stressful, it can also be a time of great innovation and extreme growth.
As you’re creating your work from home plan for business, here are 13 things to focus on that can help you be more productive:
1) The Importance of Giving Value over Selling
Believe me I understand that you have a company to run, and I’m not suggesting you start giving things away for free or putting your health at risk to keep your business open. What I’m recommending is that you take a step back and think about what you can offer from home that would be beneficial to both you and your clientele.
Maybe there is a way that what you offer could help people in this difficult time. There’s a shortage of face masks in this country for healthcare workers and the general public.
The Garden Tower Project is manufacturing durable injection molded DIY face mask frames for heath care providers, elderly individuals, and those with greatest need. You can get them HERE.
Is there a way you can adapt your current marketing model to better serve both your customers and community?
Tips and Strategies for Staying Focused
2) Dedicated work area.
This is definitely a luxury in most homes and especially small apartments but you should make the effort to find and make a dedicated work space.
If there is someone in the house with you all day as is the case with my Daughter, everyone needs to understand that each person should have their respected work areas.
Providing yourself a delineation between home and work space will help make it clear that only work activities should happen in the dedicated work area. If you have a partner to help with young children this naturally makes life easier.
It is important to have boundaries and expectations when it comes to your work area. Now that you have your dedicated work area it is a good idea to establish your work hours.
3) Establishing your work hours.
It is your work day, so instead of working haphazardly through the day set up your work hours. I generally start my day somewhere in the area of 8:30 or 9:00 am or later depending how involved I am with other matters in the home.
I generally break for lunch around noon or 1:00 pm and take some time to take care of errands or take a necessary breather, meditate or even a power nap or soul cleansing walk.
After lunch I generally work until 5:00 pm.
There will be days that I will start earlier or even pick up writing after dinner, but at least deciding on a quitting time is helpful. Working from home you can get into the habit of ‘not turning off’ which can lead to burn out quickly.
Once you have your time set your ‘on’ hours the days become more structured around what you are trying to accomplish.
4) Dressing for success.
I try to make it a point to get out of my PJ’s and sweatpants and put on actual clothes. Being that I live in FL it’s always warm so a tee short and shorts or skirt will suffice but I do make it a point to brush my hair, put on some make up and make myself look presentable in case I have to do a video or a Zoom meeting.
Wearing these types of clothes make you feel like you are not really working and this will make you prone to distractions. Making it a point to get dressed every day definitely has a direct impact on your work performance and productivity.
5) Set Your Priorities
First things first. Have a list of what you need to get accomplished first and get that out of the way.
Yes, I know you are bombarded with emails first thing in the AM, texts, phone calls and so forth. Put them in ‘triage’ priority and knock each one down in order of importance.
In the morning I do scan my email and immediately delete anything and everything that is not of any concern and star those things I need to tend to but can wait.
6) Get the unpleasant tasks out of the way
Just like going to the dentist – get the tasks you don’t want to do out of the way first.
If you’ve been putting off your invoicing or accounting processes for a while now buckle down and get them off your list.
They’re only holding you back from getting to other important things.
7) Turn off all communication
Just as if you were at an office that didn’t allow cell phones and social media act that these policies exist while you’re working.
It’s a lot harder when you’re at home but you must! Dedicate a specific time when you are not to be disturbed with phone calls, texts, social media notifications etc.
Let all family members know that this specific time is a no contact time. Unless the house is literally on fire they are not to bother you.
8) Set certain target points
If you are a sales person and have to make a certain amount of calls on any given day don’t stop until you’ve hit your target.
If have to go to Quora daily and answer 15 questions to promote your new website then do this.
You’ll be rewarded with the results!
9) Set Deadlines
Nothing works for me and most writers better than deadlines.
When you have all the time in the world nothing gets done. Deadlines are a set point when you know that you must get something done.
Setting a deadline creates a trigger point in your brain that you have an endpoint to complete a task.
10) Batch Similar Tasks Together
Having systems in place will help you tremendously. When I got started I was all over the place. This is true of many entrepreneurs. Systems is what will save you from ‘shiny ball syndrome’.
For example; set all your social media up via automatic scheduling. Batch it all at once across all channels so you can set it and forget it.
Don’t have time to create social media content and schedule it? Hire someone.
Handle all your emails at once. Create all your email marketing for one month.
Do all your billing at one time.
Dedicate a certain day for all your email communication. This can take some discipline because we get so many emails on any given day but they don’t all require responses that same day!
Same thing for writing/proofreading and publishing. I set Tuesdays and Thursdays for writing.
11) Take frequent breaks
Make sure to get up and stretch every hour if you’re sitting at the computer all day.
There are plenty of exercises you can do right from your chair. Get up and walk around, do squats, seated bench presses, head rolls and leg lifts!
Take a brief walk outside, with the dog if you have one. Clear your head. It’s so important and will help your creativity and flow.
Take a moment to see what other family members, if you have any with you, are doing and working on. Listen to soothing music – but not the kind that puts you to sleep!
12) Eat healthy meals
It’s important to stave off weight gain and the temptation to always go to the fridge when working from home. The fridge is not calling your name no matter how many times you may hear it!
Eat regular high protein healthy meals plus low carb snacks to keep the engine burning regularly.
Skipping meals is not the way to keep weight off!
Try not to eat at your desk! I am guilty of this but when I do it’s a greek yogurt with chia seeds, honey and fruit.
Nuts, turkey jerky, high quality whole grain bread with tuna or salmon, peanut butter, steel oats, eggs, tofu or tempeh, turkey wraps (skip the whole fat mayo), avocado (healthy fat), grilled chicken breast with romaine & tomato, or low carb spinach tortillas with low fat jarlsburg cheese and turkey, low carb pasta, turkey meatloaf, quinoa, lentil vegan meatballs are examples of we eat regularly.
Regular consistent, high protein meals will keep the weight off while you’re at home and maintain muscle mass.
Try to plan inexpensive, healthy meals in advance so you’re not scrambling last minute for some crappy fast food to order in or pick up.
Conclusions and observations
Working from home is not for everyone but we’ve all been forced to make a change of lifestyle with this Covid-19 Pandemic.
You have to be a disciplined person who is able to tune out the distractions while being motivated, focused and able to be productive.
You also need to be a good communicator and let your family, friends and neighbors know your goals and expectations about your work day.
Reward yourself for all of your efforts!
It’s not unusual to miss even the most unappealing features of a standard full-time job. Most commonly, people that work from home have difficulty coping with the loss of a regular social routine in the workplace.
The consequences of isolation can be wide-reaching. As your brain begins to spend more time thinking about isolation and a lack of social engagement, it can be hard to remain motivated about your business.
Psychologically, that isolated feeling can quickly lead to anxiety for some so make sure you spend time connecting with others through social media, Skype, phone calls and other ways while we’re in ‘social distancing‘ mode.
Physically, the struggle to stay motivated and engaged without social interaction can lead to comfort eating, caffeine overdoses and more.
Almost everybody that works from home has felt isolated at one time or another. So, how can you deal with this incredibly common feeling? What practical steps can you take to stop your home office from becoming a prison? And how can innovative new services make it easier for you to start new relationships with friends and potential customers?
Practical Steps To Staying Healthy While Working Alone
One of the most crucial aspects of avoiding that isolated feeling is a clear, well-defined objective.
Although you will hopefully have objectives in your business, here are a few things to aim at for the sake of your well being.
Plan A Varied Working Day
Working from home brings with it some flexibility, but too much freedom does more harm than good. A sense of independence and control can, over time, become nothing more than a disorganized, unproductive working pattern.
The first thing that anybody should do if they are to work from home is invest in a good diary. In this diary, plan a clear schedule for your working day, including all of the work that you will need to do, alongside administrative tasks. Examine this schedule – is it varied?
Most people fall into patterns of the same ole’ same ole’. For example, sending emails, writing a letter and publishing website material is all essentially the same task – sitting at a computer and tapping away at the keys.
Try to find new ways to make your work more varied. Particularly, look out for chances to mix things up.
The possibilities are endless now.
Maintain A Work-Life Balance
How The Web Can Help
As the web becomes an increasingly social place, people that work from home have more opportunities to engage with people during their working day.
For almost every kind of business, there are websites with dedicated discussion forums.
Not every conversation here needs to be about work – many forums allow people to simply chat about any subject that they choose. Try searching the web – Google even has a ‘Discussions’ tab that you can click to find forums with ease.
Alternatively, get involved with social media.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Facebook are fantastic marketing tools, but they are also places where like-minded people chat about every subject under the sun!
The Social Aspect Of Business Networking
Even though talking with other people online can be great, there is no replacement for a face-to-face conversation with another human being!
Zoom, JoinMe or Facetime Business networking groups are an effective way to get more of these face-to-face conversations. Even better, networking could lead to your next big sale!
Primarily, these sessions are focused on business. You will have the opportunity to speak one-to-one with other attendees: those in similar industries, those who could become potential customers.
Like many women on most days I seem to have to juggle all my roles. On other days just three or four. This is why I founded Socialbuzzhive. I recognize what it takes and how to set up an online business from home with all distractions of everyday family life and work.
I feel very passionate about building businesses at home as I believe that lots of people want to create a better work/life balance and work from home, either setting up a new business or working as a freelancer.
There are hundreds of genuine opportunities for people but often people do not know how to start. I want bloggers and entrepreneurs to empower anyone who wants to work from home profitably.