As a home-based, self-employed woman, mundane tasks can be as compelling to me as chocolate. Laundry. Dishes. Email. Try as I might to stay focused on running my business, at times, these uninspiring tasks beckon to me as a moth to a flame.
Why, you might ask, do I compare the common task of laundry to the delightful and satisfying experience of chocolate? It’s not that I adore the opportunity to do household chores, but sometimes any distraction is easier and more enjoyable than hunkering down to work.
It begs the question, why do I want to avoid my work? I love my business. There’s nothing I’d rather do for a living. It gives me the opportunity to be creative, serve people and hopefully give back to the world. I’m bountifully aware of the benefits.
I know I’m not alone in this dilemma, I hear it all the time, procrastination; lack of focus and distraction is a universal challenges for self-employed people. What’s more, for the self-employed person working from home, this treacherous trio can become a slippery slope.
Before I offer solutions and tips for improving focus and productivity, consider what underlying issues might be at the root of your problem.
You can’t build a strong foundation on sand. Any attempt to construct supporting structures or find solutions won’t last if you haven’t paid attention to the basics.
Begin by moving through a self-evaluation to discover if you have a foundational issue at the root. If you do, don’t get discouraged or mired in it. You can address it in a way that will move you forward. As a person smarter than me once said, “denial’s not a river in Egypt” and they were right!
Examples of underlying issues that can be at the root of distraction or procrastination can be:
Anything you don’t want to face or deal with regarding your business. Are sales sluggish? Are you worried about cash flow? Are you dissatisfied with your work and need to make a shift? Do you lack confidence or skills you need to accomplish your mission? Are you afraid of rejection, failing, succeeding, being too visible?
If so, you’re not alone. If you can relate to any of these questions don’t worry, they’re NOT insurmountable. What CAN be insurmountable is the daily energy drain of procrastination, lack of focus and distraction. Once you name and claim the true “problem” you have a real shot at fixing it.
What will you do to address what you discovered? You can work with these issues in a variety of ways from inner reflection to requesting outside assistance. I challenge you to commit to this.
Here are the solutions and tips I promised:
1. Take your work seriously. Create a distinction between work time and home time. Make sure everyone in your family and your friends know your schedule. You might need to train your loved ones. Conversely, when you’re done with work, be done with work and turn off the computer and phone.
2. Have a separate space designated for work. Close the door. This is an important psychological and literal necessity to create boundaries. Also, make sure your work doesn’t drift all over your home. Even in tight quarters, there are numerous storage container systems that with minimal investment will create a harmonious shared environment.
3. Dress for work. It’s tempting to stay in your cozy sweats. After all who’s gonna know? This subtle action sends a message to your subconscious. It also helps you “put on” your professional hat when engaging with customers. Just like smiling, when you’re doing business on the phone, conveys a clear, positive attitude customers can feel, so does dressing the part.
4. Make a workday/work week schedule and stick to it. Divide your time into categories of activities such as working “in” your business (this is the actual work you do), working “on” your business (this includes the support work you do to make your business function), thinking time, lunchtime, whatever you want to include in your day.
5. Schedule your personal chores and errands around your work time. Resist the temptation to throw in a load of wash between work activities. Five minutes here and there can add up and before you know it you’re wondering why you didn’t get as much accomplished as you intended.
Working from home is a wonderful opportunity full of many benefits and advantages or it can be like a pebble in your shoe, a constant source of friction and frustration. You have the choice. Clear any obstacles at the root of your frustration. Make sure you take time to put supportive systems in place. I guarantee it will make the difference in your level of success and fulfillment.
Ok, now I’m off to do the laundry…just kidding.
It’s YOUR life…live it completely!