Working from home can be challenging. Not only do you have the normal, day-to-day issues of work to deal with, but you compound those with the needs/wants/demands of the people around you.
What do you do to find a way to make your work-from-home situation work for you so you don’t end up running away from home instead?
Nathan Ingram and Kathryn Lang joined up to talk about the real struggles of working from home.
Nathan is a Growth Coach for WordPress Business owners – individually and in groups. For almost thirty years, he’s been helping others become more successful in their businesses all from his home office.
Kathryn began her work-from-home journey while she was homeschooling three boys. She’s a focus coach and natural-born encourager. For the last two decades, she’s been helping others find their uniquenesses and live them on purpose.
Did you miss the live WPproser event with Nathan and Kathryn?
Never fear – watch it here!
One of the first things you’ll notice about the work from home journeys of Nathan and Kathryn is that they are very different. Nathan has a separate and dedicated office – with a door and everything. Kathryn, on the other hand, works from the middle of the chaos. First, she had a desk in the kitchen, but currently, she is in a loft open to the living/dining/kitchen below.
The takeaway from the vast different angles is that to make it work you have to find your way. Learn from others, adjust to your needs (in the moment and in the long run), and start working it.
According to Nathan, there are six tricky traps you need to be aware of when you attempt to work from home:
- Self-discipline (or lack there of)
- Sketch tech
- Weak workspace
The Part 1 Webinar focused on the first three traps.
Tricky Trap #1: Interruptions
Interruptions are those things of life that stop your workflow focus.
Work calls are expected. When you work from home, people who are at home will call to talk or to pass their time (and steal yours). You can defeat this tricky trap by turning off your ringer or getting a dedicated business number and only answering it. Just be sure you don’t give your business number to those who like to interrupt your day.
The last year has slowed down the attack of unexpected visitors, but those do occasionally still show up on your doorstep. It’s more challenging to avoid these tricky traps, so you have to find your way to manage them.
- Explain that you are working and can’t visit long. Use the time for a quick break or take an early lunch.
- Leave the unexpected guest with the children or spouse and excuse yourself.
- Step out on the porch to talk instead of inviting them in. Unexpected guests are often a lot like vampires, if you let them in they will suck away all of your time and energy. If you don’t invite them in then they will go away.
Things have to be done around the house, but they don’t have to be done while you are in the middle of your workday (even if that is when you think of them). Set up a chore chart and let it guide you through what needs to be done. When unexpected household needs come up – emergencies that can’t be planned for – then have a system in place on how to take care of them or who is responsible. You would have to handle these even if you worked from an office but the benefit of working from home is you can work in between the handling.
If you have family and you work from home, it takes an adjustment period for everyone to accept the work schedule. You are right there. It’s easy to expect you to stop what you’re doing because you can do it any time since you work from home.
Set up guidelines (not just for your family but for you as well)
Put up a sign
Be consistent in following your plan or you will be consistent in breaking it.
Your pets are cute, but would you bring them to work with you and let them run the show? Okay, sometimes you would, but if you had a boss then your boss wouldn’t appreciate it. Well, turns out you do have a boss and it’s not your pet. You have to set rules for working at home with your pet just like you do for family – and sometimes even stricter rules because they are just so darn cute!
The key to dealing with the interruptions seems to be heading them off at the pass. Set some rules. Follow those rules. Be consistent in being the boss.
Get the bonus content: WPprosper eBook: Self-Care and Well-being Tips for Website Owners
Tricky Trap #2: Distractions
Distractions are those things (big and little) that catch your attention that have nothing to do with life, death, or work.
You are thinking about your project and casually glance over at your social media feed. Maybe something on there will spark the creative juices you need to get this step of the project done. You know it won’t but you still tell yourself that it might be the magic bean you need. Four days later (or so it often seems) you come out of your social media comma and realize you still have to get the project done.
- Turn off all social media so you aren’t tempted
- Set a specific and limited time for social media work
- Mute social media notices
If you don’t have games on your devices, then good for you. If you do, then you know they can be as enticing as social media – especially if you need to plant seeds, feed animals, or any other number of time-sensitive gaming needs. There are settings you can put into place that will allow you to be away from your games for multiple hours (after all, you do sleep, don’t you?). Use those settings to keep your mind off your game an in your work.
Open browsers that need to be browsed
How many browsers do you have open right now? How many tabs are open within those browsers? The more you have opened, the more apt you are to be distracted by a screen moving or an ad flashing. Trim down to the browser you need.
Raise your hand if you don’t get enough emails in your day. Unless you are like my dad (who doesn’t even have an email address) then you are probably inundated with unwanted, unwelcomed, and undesirable emails – and then there are also the ones that you need to read and answer. If you don’t set a specific time for sorting and fulfilling your email requirements, then you will let those unread albatrosses become a distraction.
Set aside a specific time of day to deal with emails – choose a non-peak performance time to sludge through.
If you can answer the email in a minute or two, do it now.
If you aren’t interested, unsubscribe.
If you didn’t ask for it, unsubscribe the first time and mark it as spam the second.
If you need more time, set a specific time in your workday (that day) to tackle the email.
Calendars, Notifications, and Reminders
Too much is not a good thing. You need to know what you need to know, but you don’t need to know it every moment of your day. Look at your calendar when you start. Only use notifications and reminders for must-attend meetings and events. Put them to sleep when you aren’t using them.
Planning is important, but plans can easily become a distraction. If you are spending more time with the plan than you are implementing it with purposeful actions, then you may need a plan intervention. Keep in mind you can get caught in the plan trap when it comes to work, play, or daydreaming. If you aren’t taking action then let it go.
Distractions are tricks your mind plays to keep you out of balance in your work at home situation.
Tricky Trap #3: Self-Disipline
If you want to win the work-from-home game then you have to be so determined to win that you allow nothing and nobody stop you.
Your spouse can’t make you win.
Your parents can’t make you win.
Your mentor can’t make you win.
The only person that can make you win is yourself. Ironically, you are also the only person standing between you and your success.
Create a schedule
Set a schedule in a way that works for you and you will be more likely to stick to it.
- Use time blocks
- Harness the little bits of time
- Invest in a bullet journal
- Find an app that helps you keep it all together
- Make your own Focus Folder
Develop a routine
A routine helps you know what to expect and also lets those around you know what to expect.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
- Go to sleep at a decent time.
- Set aside a specific time for breaks and meals
The more you do what you know to do the more it will become a habitual part of your day. Set a challenge to do something for six weeks in a row – every day. By the end of the six weeks, you are likely to discover you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Invest in your health
Your health is an essential part of your success, and you have to be self-disciplined in keeping your body healthy. Learn to listen to your body and be aware of what it needs. Put time into your physical health with exercise and better eating. Put time into your mental health with relaxation and learning. You are the only you there is, so be sure to be invested in keeping you healthy.
You make the choices. Having success with working from home begins (and ends) with the person who stares back at you from the mirror every day.
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Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.