Note: If you aren’t a fan of the word ‘routine’, I still encourage you to read this and be productive!
Want to be more productive at home?
One of the most luxurious feelings an entrepreneur has (only 2nd after the fact that we can wear tracks all day, at ‘the office’) is that we don’t have the rigidity of the corporate job. It’s absolute bliss to ‘be your own boss, ‘set your own hours’ and work ‘when it suits you’.
Any serious entrepreneur will also tell you that it’s a trap. Working adhoc, without a structure for the day, or a plan for how long things can take, will end in lots of frustration, procrastination and perfectionism delays. It’s just not productive.
When you work from home and have the ability to set your own hours, there are more distractions than you ever thought possible, and EVERY DAY, you have to push past each one. The real danger is not setting some good guidelines right at the start. By the time I realised this, I had a very comfortable day in front of me, but a very unproductive one. And as we all know the battle to change habits is not an easy one.
There are the home distractions:
– hanging the washing out
– tidying up
and the on-screen distractions:
– social media
– social media
And if you have a little one at home, then it has to be a little ad hoc, but the short nap times can be a great excuse for not getting much done…because there isn’t much time!
From a productivity point of view, not having a daily structure can be a killer. However, the offshoot of this is a loss of confidence. This is when the comparisons kick in, the negative self talk – and it becomes harder to pull it back to a positive, productive, helpful level.
Here’s a short video about how I create a flexible structure for my most productive days.
Structure your Day and Make it Work for You
When you set your hours of business, it’s important to have some boundaries. You can’t be up late coaching people overseas, and up early coaching others who want to get it out the way. That’s just a recipe for burn out and resentment – not heart-centred, not productive.
Consider your lifestyle and when you work best for setting your hours – for client availability and for your own creativity. As you know, we entrepreneurs have to wear many hats, and being all things at all times is not going to be sustainable.
I recommend taking a bird’s eye view of your week, or fortnight, and plotting out blocks of the basic elements of your business – I call them timezones i.e.; 2 days of client work, or 4 half days, or 2 mornings of blog writing and marketing (when you are sharpest), and admin and email for the afternoons.
Once you have a structure you are comfortable with, you can then plan exactly what you are going to do/ write/ create in each block.
The lovely thing about this structure is that you have set deadlines. There is no room for working on a project for weeks, tweaking it and trying to get it right. The consequence of this is that the other hats juggling in the air become neglected, boundaries become blurred, and before you know it you are at your wits end, flitting from one thing to another, unfocused, unproductive, and without the structure.
I know many creative people avoid structure, but without some sort of structure, there is high stress. There are more tabs open – in your life, your brain, and on your computer – and the more tabs you have open on your computer, the slower it runs. Get the picture!
Structure allows you to focus on just one thing at a time. I know that feeling of having to hold everything in my head at once (I used to have it before I discovered how to use Evernote properly). I ended up using my brain to remember, instead of to create and communicate (= so much more productive).
Each day, you can then make a plan of what you need to do – just that day. Your To Do list doesn’t need to include everything – and this is where the flexibility lies. Within the structure of the day, you can allow for flexibility, you can allow for a walk at lunch time, you can allow for a yoga session mid afternoon.
If something comes up and the client wants something more, allow for this in your weekly schedule, and communicate this to them. If you don’t need to do extra work for them that week, you get to use that time zone doing something else. However, if you didn’t allow for this, and worked ‘as needed’ you will find that you run out of time, again and again.
Setting work hours and designing your day to suit you allows you to be at your best more often. You’re not helping yourself, your business, your family or your clients if you are constantly burnt out, working all hours, and not taking care of your self. You need the flexibility to be ablate recharge if you need, too.
Write down your working hours for the week.
Put them into your schedule/ planner, and plan your timezones.
Try JUST ONE DAY working this way, and tell me what you noticed
Your Next Step
If you want some support to help fast track this process, or help you transition to Dubsado, then can book a free systems audit with me so we can determine where to start, and what you need to get up and running with your workflows and systems.
Aerlie Wildy is a business designer. business coach and mother based in the Adelaide Hills. I specialise in designing and systemising business for growth. You can connect with me on Facebook, join my Chief Executive Entrepreneurs Facebook Group, check out my Youtube Channel or Pin with me on Pinterest.