In the midst of the pandemic, I had a number of friends reach out, asking for support in the transition into working from home.
Since the bulk of my career was spent building my freelance business, I knew a thing or two about learning to stay focused and accountable with no colleagues or bosses to motivate me. A decade of working from home later, and I’ve noticed specific traps that we all easily fall into and have learned ways of coping with each of them.
Traps You Might Encounter When Working At Home Or For Yourself:
1. Getting distracted with everything else there is to do.
When the to-do list seems never ending, it's tempting to knock off some of the unimportant and non-urgent tasks to feel like you're doing something. But that might not be the best use of your time!
A few ways to avoid the distracting tasks:
Time-block your calendar. Schedule meetings with yourself to get certain tasks done.
Make a new to-do list every morning, for that specific day's priorities.
Strategically plan each month to identify what priorities will actually make a difference (check out the coworking group!).
Make your office/work station sacrosanct. Your immediate surroundings can be oriented to doing your best work.
Use a timer to get yourself to focus (like the Pomodoro).
Leave all distractions out of the room
2. People thinking you're available since you work from home or work for yourself.
Even after pandemic increased the amount of people working from home, many people still assume working remotely equates to being available non-stop.
Methods to create work boundaries with others:
Be clear with friends and family about your work hours. Remind them as needed.
If you share space with a partner, block off your calendar with work hours.
Affirm your boundaries by using the same statement each time. Write out a brief and polite way to share when you are/aren't available for work, and say it every time you need to until they understand.
3. Craving downtime when it's actually time to work.
Finding motivation isn't always easy, and when you don't have to report to others in person you can end up putting off work more than you'd like.
Tools to get a kickstart:
Build a rhythm to get yourself into work mode. Rhythms, routines and rituals can get you into the right headspace as you start work.
Lean into why your work is important and what’s it’s giving you. Remember your WHY.
Ground yourself in the big picture to remind yourself what you’ve built.
Balance work and play so it doesn’t feel like you’re giving something up
4. Overworking and never shutting off.
When your office is your home, it's easy to get carried away into extra hours of work just because it's there.
When you need more balance:
Schedule work in advance. Stick to your planned tasks for the day during planned hours.
Keep the perspective that it’s only by nourishing all of yourself that you get to do your best work.
Intentionally block off activities that take priority or creating blank space in your calendar for boredom or relaxation.
These are common struggles, but small tweaks in your planning or mindset can make a huge difference!
If you want to tackle your planning and strategy every month, try the monthly Coworking Sessions.