Figuring out how to stay focused AND productive is something I think many of us have struggled with since the dawn of time. Okay, maybe not that long but you get it.
And now that many of us are working from home during the state the world is in, I thought I’d pass along the things that have helped me the most after working from home over the past few years.
Because switching to the WFH life is a big change, and it’s okay if you’re struggling with it (we’re human, after all)
I mean, have you ever looked at the clock, all of a sudden it’s 4:30, and you’re wondering where on earth your day went? No? Oh…me either.
JUST KIDDING. Because this has happened so many times. I’ve figured out a few ways that have completely changed the game for me on a productivity scale, and this has led to so much less stress and frankly feeling like I have my life back a bit.
Whether you’re a creative entrepreneur working from your home office (which, TBH is more distracting than an actual office) or are completely adjusting to a new routine thanks to COVID-19, there’s one thing we likely all have in common…
We constantly feel like our brain has too many tabs open! The other thing we can agree on? Our time is precious, and there truly never seem to be enough hours in the day.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m a recovering procrastinator. Part of me thrived under deadlines, and I told myself “I work better under pressure.” Mmm hmmm. Good one, Steph. In reality, I was falling into an easily avoidable distraction spiral.
If you’re having trouble staying focused, I promise you if you put these tips to use, you’ll be left feeling like you can totally conquer this week’s to-do list.
Close the Tabs
Okay, I get it. You might be rolling your eyes right now. But hear me out, this is number one on this list for a reason. One of the biggest ways to get distracted is by diving into the deep hole that is the internet. I am SO guilty of this. One second I’ll be totally killin’ whatever task I’m doing, but then something I hear on a Podcast distracts me to go do research on that topic. Or I jump into a Pinterest spiral and suddenly think I’m going to learn how to start becoming an epic coder.
3 hours later……
I’ve completely gone down a worm hole, and oh yeah, still need to work on what I initially set out to do. My advice? Close out every. single. other. tab. on your browser so you can stick to the task at hand. It may just help you feel like those tabs in your brain are easier to handle, too 😉
Put Your Phone Away
Speaking of distractions, this is one of the biggest distractions for me. As 100% of my business relies on being constantly connected, I find myself checking my phone all the time. Whether it’s checking emails, or working on Instagram, this is one of the easiest ways to blow time.
Now let me clarify, the two things I mentioned are tasks in and of themselves, but if they’re distracting you from something else you should be working on, then neither gets your full attention and both will inevitably end up taking longer. What I’ve found to work for me is quite simple. I put my phone on the other side of the room so I’m not tempted to pick it up and mindlessly scroll. Sometimes the best tricks, are the simplest!
Focus on Your Toughest Tasks First
This one was a total game changer for me. Instead of starting out your day with busy work, think catching up on emails, write down everything you need to do for the day. Then study that list and put a star next to the one thing you know is either going to take you the longest/doesn’t excite you as much/you don’t really want to do–and do that one FIRST. I promise you, this will totally change how you conquer your days. By checking off the one thing you really don’t want to do first, you’re setting yourself up for success (and let’s be real, to let those creative juices flow) for the remainder of the day.
Not to mention, you’re a totally different person at 9 AM than you are at 3 PM. 9 AM you=YES, today is going to be so productive, I’m going to knock everything on my to do list off! 3 PM you=OMFG is it nap time yet?
Let 9 AM you take the lead here, my sweet. I promise 3 PM you will be so thankful.
Evaluate How You’re Spending Your Time
Feel like you’ve seriously been bustin’ your butt all day, but your to do list is still a mile long? It’s time to reevaluate how you’re spending your time. My solution? Start jotting down how long certain tasks are taking you each day. At the end of the week, take a look at that list and see where the majority of your time has been spent and ask yourself if there are ways to automate those tasks to make them flow a bit more seamlessly.
Time Blocking is Your New BFF
This one might be the best piece of advice yet. When I did this, it truly changed the way my days were laid out and how productive I was able to be. Let me explain. Instead of just jumping in to your day with a to-do list, block out time for when you’ll get those things done. For example, from 9 AM-10 AM everyday, I catch up on my personal community engagement. Whether that’s responding to blog comments, Instagram, or scheduling out my own social media for the week, I allot this time to focus on that, and that alone. Continue this process for different tasks you have each day, or each week. Dedicate Mondays and Fridays to writing blog posts, or Tuesdays and Wednesdays to client work. Whatever works for you and your schedule, block it out so you’re maxing out your productivity with maximum ROI. (Did I just say ROI…??)
Create Productivity Presents
Yeah, girl! Treat #yoself. As much as bribery worked for you as a kid, use it again for you as an adult. Cranked out the blog posts you wanted to get through? Crushed your client work? Finished up that design you’ve been working on all week? Reward yourself. Think, “If I finish ___ today, I’ll spend an hour reading/taking a bath/having a glass of wine etc” It may seem silly, but you need time to do you, boo. As entrepreneurs, it can be so hard to separate “work” from “life” when the two so often get mixed and blurred. When things on the work-side are out weighing things on the life-side, it’s time to sprinkle in some of what makes life worth livin’! Have a wine night with your girlfriends, go see a movie with your honey. Whatever helps you disconnect with technology, and reconnect with people–do that.
Know That You Can’t Do #AllTheThings
Saving a truth bomb for last, and shouting it extra loud in case you need a reminder. It’s truly impossible to do #ALLTHETHINGS. Prioritize what matters to you most, and focus on that. Trying to be a master of everything will leave ya burned out and ready to quit. Focus your energy and time on what brings you joy and moves your business forward. As much as some days I would love for there to be an extra 40 hours in the day, it’s never going to happen. Give yourself the grace to know that it’s okay to just do #someofthethings 😉