Working from home can seem like a dream, unfortunately, sometimes working from home on your online business can be incredibly distracting. It makes sense that working as a Virtual Assistant from home might make it hard to focus. In this episode, I am sharing ways to keep your focus while working from home.
On the surface, working from home seems like a dream! Stretchy pants, hanging out with your pets all day, no commute… Unfortunately, sometimes working from home on your small business can be incredibly distracting. It makes sense that working from home might make it hard to focus… All of your favorite things are there, and your bed is there too! However, especially in pandemic times, more and more jobs are shifting to remote setups. So, how do you keep your focus without totally depriving yourself?
Stick to your plans
Use a calendar (whether on paper or digital), write in the calendar, plan your day, and stick to it. Definitely easier said than done, but it’s very worth it. When you can see your day all at once, it’s easier to keep ahead of your tasks and goals. Also, there’s something that makes a plan feel more tangible when you write it down.
Schedule your social media breaks
I know that scheduling in time to scroll social media may sound a bit weird, but hear me out. Logging onto social media throughout the day interrupts your focus and takes up time you could be productively working. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever browse social media, it just means you have to make those breaks work for you. I suggest scheduling in social media just as you would any task on your calendar. By scheduling a set time to scroll, and sticking with just that set amount, you are able to switch back your focus to productive tasks without feeling like you’re missing out.
Invest in noise cancelling headphones
Noise can’t bother you if you can’t hear it! When you find yourself needing a simple way to get “in the zone” on your tasks, consider trying out a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Old-fashioned ear plugs will work as well. Anything that blocks out distractions and helps get your brainpower going will work.
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Organize your workspace
When I say organize, I mean keep your workspace tidy AND keep everything you need within reach. This includes keeping things like supplies, water, and a snack at your desk. It’s much easier to stay focused when you don’t have to get up to get what you need. This allows you to task batch your work, another organizational idea that I’ve shared about!
Turn off obvious distractions
Whether it’s phone notifications, loud music, or the TV, it’s important to recognize what might distract you and preemptively solve it. If you need to move your phone to another room so that you can focus, go for it. When you avoid obvious distractions, you are able to keep your productive flow.
Give yourself breaks as a reward
Brains love dopamine. When you give yourself a reward for accomplishing a task, your brain gets a dose of dopamine and you get a sense of satisfaction with a job well done. Being productive is all about hacking your life, so why not hack your brain by giving yourself little wins throughout the day.
Avoid household chores during working hours
Keep your work self and your home self separate! You wouldn’t be folding that laundry if you were in an actual office, so don’t feel like you need to do it during the workday at home either. It can feel weird to be home all day and get “nothing done” around the house, but what you’re actually getting done is super impressive. Without household chores bothering you, it’s much easier to keep your productivity and creativity going.
These are just some of the ways that you can tweak your day-to-day life in order to feel more focused. I would love to hear if there are any that you think I missed? Share with me in the comments!
[00:00:00] Melyssa: Hello, how are you today? This is going to be such a good episode. I’m going to be covering some practical tips and strategies that can help you really ramp up your productivity when you are working as a VA, when you have your own business, you’re working from home and you’re balancing and the kiddos and the unending household chores.
[00:00:20] Melyssa: The thing is there’s distractions everywhere. And it’s so easy to get sidetracked and lose focus on the task at hand. But if you implement some of these simple techniques, you can learn to manage your distractions and really boost your productivity.
[00:00:34] Melyssa: The first tip I want to share for improving productivity is to set clear goals and prioritize your tasks. Now I know this kind of sounds like a no brainer. But the really important thing is to actually write these down. So you have that visualization and that accountability. Start by making a to-do list at the beginning of the week or the beginning of each day, whatever works better for you, and then prioritize the most [00:01:00] important tasks that need to be completed.
[00:01:02] Melyssa: This is going to help you really stay focused on what needs to be done and then avoid wasting time on the less important tasks. When you are creating this list, try to be realistic about how much you can actually accomplish in a day. This is hard for us moms. I totally know. I get it. I feel like I am supermom and I can do a million things, but really it’s not beneficial to be overloading ourselves.
[00:01:27] Melyssa: So don’t overload your lists with too many tasks because it can really just lead to feeling overwhelmed and then discouraged because you’re not getting everything done. So instead focus on prioritizing the most important tasks that you need to complete and then make a plan for how to get them done.
[00:01:44] Melyssa: Keep in mind that setting these clear goals and prioritizing your tasks. It’s not just about being productive. It’s also about feeling that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you complete those tasks. I legit get so excited when I can cross a task [00:02:00] off my list. And I’ve even been known to write down a task that I’ve already completed, just to be able to like cross it off right away.
[00:02:07] Melyssa: The second tip I have is to consider using the Pomerado technique. If you’re not familiar, this is a time management method that involves breaking your Workday down into 25 minute intervals that are separated by short five to 10 minute breaks. During each of those 25 minute intervals, you are hyper-focused on a specific task or a set of tasks.
[00:02:29] Melyssa: And then you take your short break to recharge in between before the next interval. It almost feels like a game for me to try and see how much I can fit into one of those 25 minute intervals. After you do, four of those Pomerado is in a row. Then you take a longer 15 to 30 minute break so you have like a longer recharge and reset time.
[00:02:49] Melyssa: One of the benefits of this technique is to help you avoid burnout because you’re breaking up your Workday into these more manageable chunks of time. Now, take this with a little bit of grain of salt. If you [00:03:00] are thinking that this won’t work with your family and your schedule, that’s totally fine. This is just a suggestion for something, especially if you are a mom with older kids and you are able to have these more uninterrupted times of work this could actually be a great routine for you.
[00:03:15] Melyssa: My third tip is to turn off notifications, social media, email, other notifications. Those can all be huge time sucks and just distract our day and really interrupt that flow of work.
[00:03:28] Melyssa: Now I know. It’s not possible to always do that. And I know that some messages and notifications that come in are important. So one option is to set aside specific times of your day where you’re going to check those notifications. So they’re out of sight out of mind when it’s not that time. And then when it is that time, maybe pick three times a day or whatever it works for your schedule, and then you go and you pay attention to those messages and reply to them as necessary.
[00:03:54] Melyssa: As mamas, you might also be concerned about missing a message from your kid’s school nurse. Or your teenager who [00:04:00] forgot a soccer ball at home. So if that’s the case, you can definitely set up filters and rules for your texts and emails, so that those important messages continue to come through.
[00:04:08] Melyssa: Another important tip is to make sure you’re taking breaks regularly. We just talked about taking breaks during the Pomerado method, but that’s not something that’s going to work for everybody.
[00:04:18] Melyssa: It’s important to take these five to 10 minute breaks every hour. It’s important to stretch, to make sure you’re hydrated and actually physically get up and move away from your workspace so you have a minute to recharge and reset your brain.
[00:04:33] Melyssa: When you’re taking these breaks, it’s really important to make sure that you’re doing something that makes you feel positive, uplifted, and energized. This can include going for a walk, listening to music meditating or doing some other kind of light exercise. Definitely avoid activities that are likely to further deplete you mentally or physically, or just bring in that negative woo like mindlessly scrolling, social media, taking a complicated course or sitting on hold with an insurance company. All of those things can [00:05:00] kind of bring you down and then make it hard to get back into your work.
[00:05:04] Melyssa: The next tip is to find ways to eliminate noise distractions. I don’t know about you, but noise distractions can be huge productivity killers for me. I am really noise sensitive. One effective method that I use is noise canceling headphones to help block out that background noise and to create a more peaceful work environment. Sometimes I just have the noise canceling part on. Sometimes I have some focused music on.
[00:05:30] Melyssa: This can help you stay really focused and concentrate without being distracted by those noises. In addition, maybe you can find a quieter place to work. I know that’s easier said than done with kids, but again, it depends on your circumstances. If your kids are older, maybe you could go to a private office, go to a bedroom, go to the library, or even at coffee shop. If you want a quieter atmosphere . By finding this quiet workspace, you can eliminate that distraction of that background noise.
[00:05:56] Melyssa: The last tip I have for you today is to track your [00:06:00] time. It’s really helpful to do a time audit for about three to five days. Write down every single thing you’re doing in 15 minute increments. And this is really going to help you identify areas where you might be wasting time and where you can help make adjustments to improve your productivity.
[00:06:14] Melyssa: Tracking our time is an excellent way to understand where you are spending that time throughout your day and where you might be able to make adjustments. By tracking it. You can also identify areas where you might be wasting time or spending too much time on certain tasks so that can help you make more informed decisions and allocate your time, especially when you’re going back and you’re doing your to-do lists and you’re planning out your week or your day.
[00:06:37] Melyssa: In addition to helping you identify in those areas where you might be wasting time. Doing a time-tracking our audit can also help identify patterns in your workday. By understanding those patterns, you can really make adjustments to your work schedule and then optimize your days.
[00:06:50] Melyssa: So that is my list and strategies for ways to help increase your productivity when you’re working from home, you can implement all of them, you [00:07:00] can implement some of them.
[00:07:01] Melyssa: I would love it if you would take a screenshot of this episode to share on your Instagram stories. Put down your favorite tip and tag me so that I can give you a shout out.