How to avoid the pile of laundry, Facebook and weeds in the yard so you can focus on work.
As COO of website-development firm All Quality Companies in Grand Rapid, Michigan, Cindy Bidar enjoys the luxury of working from home, and yet she still finds it hard to go into work some days.
"I find myself procrastinating on some projects, resisting even the sending of invoices at times," she says. "Seems like there is always something better, easier, more important to do. Laundry? Far more important than that client proposal, don’t you think?"
Who could blame her? With the allure of the fridge, the TV, the weeds in the yard, it can be a real challenge for work-at-homes to get up and go. How to stay motivated while working in your PJs? Here are five tips from those who have been there.
"Social media can be a huge time-killer," says David Wilder, director of operations at Dog Ring, a maker of creative canine products in Dripping Springs, Texas. "One rule that I have created is that I will only check my social media channels at certain times throughout the day. And even then, I commit to staying on for a maximum of 20 minutes per time."
Take Action: Learn from these business owners who shared how they set aside time for social media.
2. Buddy up.
At CastMedic Designs in Gainesville, Virginia, Christina Daves makes fancy footwear for those in casts. Like other work-at-homes, she sometimes needs a push to get going. Daves calls her solution an accountability partner. "You set goals that you need to achieve in X amount of time, and that person holds you accountable to make sure you get it done," she says. "I really needed to file my trademark, but it's paperwork and just kept going to the bottom of my pile. My accountability partner knew how important that was to my business, so she gave me a week to do it. My deadline was a Friday, and on Thursday at 11 p.m. she sent me a text saying I had 24 hours. I knew she was calling Friday, so I got it done right then and there." Your buddy might be a friend, a colleague in the business or even dear Mother if it comes to that: Anyone who will be willing to hold your feet to the fire.
Take Action: See if you have the right people in your business network.
3. Schedule breaks.
Like the clients she serves, tourism marketer Jennifer Barbee sometimes has the urge to get up and go, even when it makes more sense to stay on task. It’s a common trap for those who set up shop in the living room. Her solution is to plan ahead for break time. "It's the best way to avoid burnout or boredom. Every hour and a half or so, take a quick walk, read the newspaper, listen to some music, tinker in the garden or even take a catnap," she says. "Just make sure you do something that recharges you."
As head of a New York City "Work From Home" support group, Jennifer Maguire Coughlin takes much the same approach. "I allot 30 minutes each afternoon to leave my home office and handle non-work tasks. That way, each time I feel distracted, I save it for my Not Work Session, which is usually during my 3 p.m. afternoon lull."
4. Make a room.
"It's easy to get caught up in the endless household distractions, especially without the presence of a boss or coworkers to hold you accountable," says Allison O’Kelly of the national talent-acquisition and career-development firm Mom Corps. How to stay on task? "Create an office space that is away from the normal household traffic. Train yourself to work while in that space, and set some ground rules. Don't let kids or your spouse just drop in during 'office hours.'"
Take Action: Follow these space-saving tips for home-based businesses.
5. Break it down.
It's easy to lose focus and get distracted when a project has a distant deadline. No harm in putting it aside for a day, right? A better plan, says Bidar, is to push yourself toward a more immediate timeline, setting checkpoints and milestones to which you will hold yourself accountable. "A huge project with a due date far into the future is easily pushed aside. But break that up into small pieces, each with their own deadline, and it’s a lot easier."
Take Action: Adopt these tips to get the most out of your time.