“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Stephen King
Here’s the thing. The grass is always greener on the other side. It looks easier than your grass, it seems so much softer than your grass and if only you could have ‘that’ grass, how much nicer your life would be. You could probably come up with at least a dozen things that you would do with that grass. Then it happens. You finally have your chance to take ownership of that fantastically greener, softer version of your own grass and what do you know? You’re sitting on the couch in your pajamas watching the 5th episode of that insatiable reality show that you have a love/hate relationship with.
It happened to me. I worked for 15 years in Corporate America before I had the opportunity to work from home. Like many people working in Corporate America, I’ve always thought that living the life of an entrepreneur would be a piece of cake compared to working for a billion dollar corporation where conformity was the norm and creative freedom was a hobby. In 2010, the opportunity of a lifetime unfolded right before my eyes and for the first time, I was given a chance to step over to the other side of the grass.
Once the transition was complete, it took the first 7 days for me to believe that I was actually free. 2 weeks to completely unplug, an entire month to travel to make up for all of the vacation time I never used, and finally after another month of enjoying the emptiness of restaurants, coffee shops, book stores and nail salons during weekday off-peak hours, I realized that I had zero self-discipline and that my years as a Monday morning strap-hanging coffee junkie provided me much more than paychecks, and swollen inboxes; Those years instilled the discipline that I didn’t realize I never had on my own.
Thankfully, it didn’t take me much longer after that shocker to shake the dust off of my laptop to work on a plan.
1. Live By Your Schedule
As an Assistant to quite a few people of power in my career, I have managed more than my share of maniacal schedules. In Corporate America, nothing gets done that ‘isn’t on the calendar’. Be your own ‘Executive Manager’ and plug every single item, project, and to-do, on your calendar. Be realistic. Start your day precisely at the hour that you will be seated at your desk. Schedule breaks between large blocks of time to give yourself a chance to refresh between projects. Schedule your workout sessions, lunch breaks, phone calls – all of it.
2. Edit Your Schedule
Just like in an office, if you see that you’re running over a project that’s due to start at 1:00 and it’s already 12:50, take a moment and adjust your schedule accordingly. Things happen and sometimes you can get caught up in a creative bubble so no need to cut your creative juices short.
3. Be Flexible
What you may have considered a priority last night when you filled your schedule, may have to take the back seat to a plumbing emergency this morning. Knowing that there’s a chance that things sometimes come up, will alleviate some of the pressure.
4. Find Your Rhythm
Everyone moves to the beat of their own drum. Knowing when you are at your absolute best during the day is when you schedule the projects that are normally a challenge for you to complete. If you’re able to begin working at 6am but know that an afternoon walk is required for you to break up the monotony, then schedule your day accordingly.
5. Do Not Deviate From The Schedule
Working at home means you are wide open to all kinds of distractions. When these arise, flexibility is key as previously explained, but being able to return back to your schedule is paramount. Even when your neighbors knock on the door, or something begins to burn on the stove, or even a surprising phone call from a
(I was immediately interrupted for 90 minutes exactly where I left off in the paragraph above. I, like you, also need help in this area).
What are your tips for being productive when working from home?