So you got motivated to start your own business, or maybe even convinced your boss that you’re ready to be more productive in a less distracting environment, and you’re just pumped that you now get to work from home.
At face value it sounds great: no start time, take lunch whenever you want, walk around in your pajamas all day and all of the other perks that can come along. Sounds glamorous, right? Well, as great as it can be to spend the first half of the day in board shorts, if you don’t structure yourself and your environment, you can get in serious trouble.
There certainly aren’t a shortage of articles written about structuring your day or forming positive habits, so this won’t be one of them. There are, however, a number of not-so-obvious things that I’ve learned as an entrepreneur to either include or avoid when amidst a startup and/or working out of a “home office.” The key is to control distraction, which your home is chock full of.
Eat real meals. When working out of an actual office, I’m the kind of person that tends to realize that it’s 4 in the afternoon and I haven’t eaten all day — not good. You know how it goes though: you get busy, things come up that weren’t expected and unless you have a scheduled lunch, food isn’t on the forefront of your mind. So when you’re working from home and have more control over your schedule, you have the ability to eat or snack whenever you want. Good thing, right? Absolutely not.
You have to set aside time to eat real meals at defined times because there is nothing more distracting than being hungry and realizing that you can just head to the fridge for a quick swig out of the milk carton or a handful of mixed nuts that have been sitting out on the counter in a cocktail dish for three months. Gross, I know.
Listen to music without words. What’s better than working from home and cranking your Michael Bolton mix tape? I’d say a lot, but that’s not the point. The point here is that distractions come in all shapes and sizes and allowing yourself the opportunity to get lost in music that will cause an old concert flashback or promote the constant need to skip to your next favorite song means that your mind is not on your work.
As a solution, I always had better success in focusing when I listened to music that didn’t have words. Whether it’s jazz, classical, the Lemon Jelly station on Pandora or your favorite Kenny G album, music without words will help you remain focused.
Avoid sitting in front of a window. No, I’m not saying lock yourself in a windowless room, that would make any sane person crazy. I am, however, saying that sitting in front of a window or sliding glass door provides the potential for you to lose your focus while looking out at the chirping birds, playing kids, barking dogs and/or whatever else goes on outside your window. Situate yourself so that you can enjoy the natural light of a window but are not set up in direct view of visual distractions.
You need to structure your environment in such a way that you can avoid as many distractions as possible and maintain your focus. Your ability to control these distractions and remain focused will allow you to be more productive and, in turn, allow you to spend more time doing the ‘non-work’ things that you want to do. That is why you’re working from home, right?