Not getting the balance right when working from home? Let us help!
Working from home is easy and difficult at the same time. It’s moments of calm amongst moments of chaos and it’s working hard and hardly working. It’s just how it is. I’ve been working from home for about five years now, and this is what I’ve learned.
Separating work life from home life
For me personally, it is really difficult to separate my work life from home life because I run two businesses and look after our daughter Emma. I feel guilty a lot of the time, along with stress and unrivaled amounts of pressure, but I know it won’t always be like this.
Another problem is that our studio is full to the brim and work has leaked into our tiny living room/kitchen/dining room/temporary studio, so it is hard to physically separate work from home.
The importance of breaks
Although we will be discussing how to avoid distractions, it’s just as important to take a break. One thing I remember to do is take breaks on the lighter workdays.
These kinds of breaks include taking Emma for lunch and then taking her to the park to play for an hour or taking her to a kids club for a couple of hours on a Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. This alleviates some of the guilt of not being able to give Emma much playtime during the week. It also gives us a chance to refresh.
We also try to have couple time at least once a month, whether that’s the cinema or a concert or weekend trip and family time a couple of times a month visiting my mum and other family members with Emma. For now, this is the only way I can separate my work life from my home life, but it might be different for you.
If you can dedicate a space for your work, then this is a great place to start.
It can be a whole room, or simply just a table with a laptop on it. It all depends on your business and what you’re doing. Some people find it easier to sit in a coffee shop for a few hours to work, something about the atmosphere and great coffee, I suppose, it’s all up to you.
Whatever you decide to do, just remember to take breaks. You deserve a break. Whether you’ve made significant progress, a little progress, or you’ve simply hit a wall. Take a break, hit the refresh button, and jump back on it.
Our solutions to improving blogging productivity
I’m not going to lie to you. It’s so hard not to get distracted now and then. I mean, I work with my husband and live with a toddler. If I could erase Emma from my work hours (hello childcare, why are you so expensive?) and magic Monica Geller into my home to give it an epic cleaning, then I’d quite quickly blast through work without a problem.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the pleasure of either of these things. So I sit at home, I work, and I get distracted watching Emma chase the cat and try to put socks on his head.
Luckily, there are some things we can do to avoid some distractions.
Shut off social media
Unless you are working on social media marketing or something that requires you to be on platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then simply sign out and shut them off.
Having these pages lurking in the background will easily steal your time. Let’s be real; we all know how Pinterest works. I’ve spent many a time putting in a quick ten minutes searching for inspiration to find myself looking up, and two weeks have passed.
The best thing to do is to completely ignore the idea of going on social media during work hours and put your phone away too!
Avoid starting blind
Don’t start your working day without a plan. There is nothing worse than sitting down to start something and realizing you don’t have a clue where to start or even what to start on. Cue 30 minutes of figuring out what to do and then another 30 minutes procrastinating before you do it.
If you have a list, calendar, or schedule by your side, then you will be able to see what needs to do at a glance and will be able to keep an eye on your progress.
If you haven’t considered creating a schedule for work, then let me tell you why this could be a good idea. A schedule, even just a basic one, is a great way of roughly planning out your week or month ahead with the idea of flexibility.
When I work with a schedule, I start by keeping it simple. An easy option is to print off a blank calendar for the month (you can easily do this with the mac calendar) or create one digitally.
Start by looking at any lists of content you need to create, any holidays coming up, and any sponsored work and start dotting them in. Then, if you want, over a work brunch, you can put together a fuller and more specific schedule to follow.
We have created a full breakdown of creating a content schedule here.
Set work hours but be realistic
If you work from home, you will know that it’s very rarely straight forward. You have the responsibility of ‘work duties’ along with home responsibilities.
If your baby needs her butt changed, you’re on it. If the family wants lunch, you better do that too. Missed the last episode of The Handmaid’s Tale? Maybe you can put it on in the background. One thing I know for sure is that you can set your work hours, but you have to be willing to compromise.
Ok, I’m joking about catching up on tv, but if mother duties come calling, then what can you do?
Be strict with the work times you set, but understand that some of that time will be used to deal with responsibilities, and you need to be ok with that. You can always make the time if you feel guilty.
If you are lucky enough to have family close by who can help out with your little one, then seriously take the help.
Manage your energy
When I talk about managing your energy, I’m not talking about eating a banana at 2 pm to give you a boost, but rather, I’m talking about harnessing the time you feel at your most creative to focus on your most important work.
There will be certain times of the day when you feel you’re most creative, energetic, and focus ready and other times where you will simply slump.
Let’s take Don, for example. He wakes around 5.45 am every morning, gets out of bed at about 6.30 am, and starts to work. He has his best energy burst early in the morning and finds that he can focus better and work smarter in the peaceful moments of the morning. This is where he focuses on content creation and writing.
He tends to slow down a little after lunchtime at about 2 pm but forces himself to push through writing, and then by dinner time, he’s ready to call it quits with writing and might focus on something else for a couple of hours. Don seems to know where his energy lies and how to manage it. Me, on the other hand, I’m still figuring it out.
One thing that kills productivity is boredom. There will come a time when you will be working on a project that you just can’t seem to get through. At times like this, you might have to simply move on from it for a while or push through with it even though your mind bleeds.
Not all projects are like this, though, blogging can actually be quite fun, but there will always be the necessary evils we all have to get through. One thing to help you keep your flow would be to make sure you have enough variety in your plan to keep you passionate and creative.
Consider batching tasks
Batching tasks can be very beneficial, especially if you plan on taking time away from blogging. Having a week or months worth of pre-written content ready to be published can make all the difference, especially when you have an off day, but doing this can also help you with your productivity too.
Why not take a look through your schedule and see what projects you can batch together? You might find that through batch working (especially your favorite projects), you finish work early or on time and have a really productive day.
Develop a routine
One of the hardest things about working from home is getting into a new routine. Sure, after a few weeks or months, you might have it figured out, but in my opinion, work and business are always changing, and so is my routine.
I find that you can’t force a routine, it just tends to fall into place with the habits that you make. Your routine will base itself around multiple factors such as your work hours, your energy, and your schedule. So get working on those productivity habits, and your routine will ultimately fit into your lifestyle.
Ask for help or outsource
Sometimes you’ve just gotta get the support from somewhere else, whether that’s delegating work to a co-worker, freelancer, or inviting people to guest post. There’s no shame in asking for help.
If you are having a few web design issues and need help fixing them, then get the help you need rather than waste tons of time trying to figure it out for yourself. There’s no denying that blogging is a huge task, especially if you have the goal of turning it into a business, and it’s always a smart idea to ask for help.
It can be tricky working from home. There are so many distractions and nobody on your back pressuring you to get things done meaning it can be difficult to make real progress. Hopefully, we’ve covered some of the issues faced when working from home and helped to provide a few insights for you to consider as you start your shift.