Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their business from home.
Today’s Q is:
How do you maintain focus and productivity while working from home?
Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:
My mind always runs with different ideas. To keep focused on what I need to get done, I keep a stack of sticky notes on my desk and write a different task on each one. As I complete each task, I move the sticky to my wall. It’s always fun to look at the wall and see what I’ve accomplished in a day, especially those days when it feels like I didn’t get anything done at all!
Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:
I’ll be honest, when working from home it’s not easy to stay focused with people around. It is absolutely necessary for me to carve out time where I’m home alone or at minimum, just my husband is home. Normally, I will schedule my work time to correspond to when my husband is at work in the evening or on Saturday and he is not in the house. When the kids are still at home, I work after they go to their rooms or after they’re asleep. When I do get that time alone, I never turn on the television but I do put music on in another room that I can hear from where I’m working. That way, it’s not so loud that I can’t think but I can hear it. It actually helps me focus.
As for productivity, I use mind mapping for everything. My to-do list is on a mind map. Anytime I think of something that needs to be done, I add it to the mind map. Then, when I sit down to work, I prioritize what needs to be done. Checking off an item gives me a sense of accomplishment, so I either add a checkmark to the item when done or put a line through it so I can see that item is done. Often, that gives me motivation to cross off another item. It sounds silly but it really does trick my mind somehow.
Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:
When I first started this was very difficult for me. I realized that I was doing a lot of “busy work” but not really accomplishing any goals. So one day, I sat down and took a good, hard look at why I wasn’t being productive. It wasn’t pretty, and I knew I needed to change things pronto!
The first thing I did was set aside “work time.” This meant no phone calls, laundry, cooking, etc., during that time. Since I also homeschool my two children, I started waking up two hours before them to get in some quality writing time without interruptions. I also discovered that I was spending too much time on social media. Now, I set aside about 30 minutes per day to socialize. This is when I respond to comments on Facebook or Twitter and take a peak at Facebook pages that I follow and groups I belong to. I also schedule my posts ahead of time so that I’m not temped to be popping in and out of social media throughout the day.
The other thing I do now is make a lot of lists. At the start of each month, I set my goals along with a list of tasks that need to be done in order to move me towards my goals. Then, I break it down by week and prioritize the list. For example, if my number one goal is to write three articles, I do not move onto task number two on my list until those articles are written. Prioritizing my lists has been a huge help. With each task I’ll ask myself, “Will this help move me towards my goal or is this just busy work?” If I have an inspired idea for a new project, I write it down and save it in a folder for review at the start of the following month.
Tracy Roberts from Moms In A Blog says:
For me, it’s all about redeeming the time by making a plan and trying to stick to office hours. I focus in small bursts of activity and only work when my productivity is high – usually early morning hours between 6-10 a.m. I do my “money-making” tasks during these hours and focus on the rest throughout the rest of the day.
I home school my two youngest children so I have to figure their activities into my daily plan and my mother often stops by for toast and coffee in the mornings. I work from home to be with my family so I don’t look at these as obstacles or interruptions, instead I marvel that I’m able to create a lifestyle for my family while doing something I love. Not everything gets done all the time but that’s okay because there’s always tomorrow.
Helena Bowers from HelenaBowers.com says:
I have to admit, focus is something I really struggle with. I am a real “flitterer” moving from project to project throughout the day. When I have a deadline to meet, it’s a whole different story and I’ve been known to focus so intently that I lose track of time. What works to keep me on track is a system made up of to-do lists, a timer, and productivity software such as Time Doctor.
Stephanie L. Watson from Barry Publishing says:
Today, it’s not hard for me to maintain my focus working from home because I have a dedicated office and office hours, a calendar that tells me all the work I need to get done, and an empty nest. After doing this for so long, the moment I get into my office I start working and have few distractions. However, it wasn’t that long ago that I had multiple distractions since I raised four daughters.
I even had one daughter who, when she was 18 months to about 24 months would cry every time I walked near the office, which at that time was in the dining room. She is 22 years old now, and she has no memory of my awful neglect making her play with her toys and sisters while I worked.
But, as a Mom I remember it, and what I did was to set the stove timer for 15 minutes and tell her: “Let Mommy work until you hear the buzzer, then I’ll come play with you.” I would also set the buzzer while playing with her. The truth is, most of the time when the buzzer went off she was happily playing with her sisters, so I’d just give her a pat on the head and get back to work unless she would take my hand and lead me to playing with her.
Kids just want to know that they do have your attention if they need it. So, maintaining focus really is just a matter of taking your business seriously. Make yourself a schedule in Google Calendar of work to be done each day. Turn off the TV, beeps from IMs, and even the radio if that causes problems. Each day when you turn on your computer, go straight to the calendar and tick off the work to be done, just like you would if you went into an office for a J.O.B. While you’re doing that, thank your lucky stars you’re not having to get up , get the kiddos dressed, yourself dressed and out the door at a certain time in bad weather. If nothing else works to keep you focused, the idea of having to do that should.
At times, I get hung up on techniques and strategies for getting things done. Don’t get me wrong; those are extremely important in helping assure the development of a course for moving forward. But for me, I find that often times there is a hidden meaning behind why I’m feeling challenged in staying focused as I progress in this new venture of home entrepreneurship.
Perhaps it’s information overwhelm or lack of confidence in accomplishing something successfully (by my super high standards). It may be fear or lack of clarity in objectives. The reasons are endless. It’s certainly validating to learn how this panel of entrepreneurs experience challenges with productivity at times. It is also empowering to absorb the solutions they’ve implemented to keep moving forward.
In general, I’ve been known to accomplish a lot with little time. But I must say, jumpstarting a business from home is not an easy feat when trying to develop a routine for constant productivity. I too make great use of to-do lists and implement “focus days” where my job on those days is to obsessively produce. For the rest of the time, tenacity and passion go a long way.