Being productive sometimes seems impossible especially when working from home. In fact, it can sometimes feel like you’re simply slamming your face into the wall. In fact, if you're a member of Niche Blitzkrieg you've probably heard me speak of productivity before.
Think of all of your daily distractions…
Just normal day-to-day life
Unknowns (car breaks down, tree falls through roof, etc.)
Let’s face it, even when we are doing something fun like working from home sometimes we’d rather be playing video games, having a glass of wine instead of working or just laying out in the sun….
…and that is just some of the millions of possible distractions.
So how do we get a handle on this? How do we overcome our ability to become sidetracked or overcome chronic procrastination?
When building your own business and working from home it’s easy to become distracted at any given time of the day. You MUST be self-disciplined or you have a long road ahead of you.
I am going to list the ways that I avoid setbacks and give you a clear concise path to follow so you may do the same. Keep in mind while reading these I have my moments where I don’t follow this as well.
The result? Bad stuff.
I am going to start with some things that most people overlook first before stating the obvious “but little used” things.
All of the things below tie into self-discipline in some way.
Always set goals. Whether they are small goals, large goals, short term goals, long term goals or even goals you think are silly, set them! Goal setting will help you keep focused on the prize ahead. Look at your goals weekly (yes, even on the long term goals). Looking at your goals periodically will help keep you motivated.
The more motivated you are, the less likely you’ll want to procrastinate or become distracted and fall in the shallow pool of being non-productive.
I am not going to break down goal setting here as I’ve already done that at my goal setting page.
Build Your Self Esteem
Believe it or not poor self-esteem is one to the biggest problem creators in this universe. When we allow negativity to creep in we allow failure to show its ugly head. Poor self-esteem leads us to make poor choices as well. When we lose track of whom we and what we are we sometimes stop caring about our outcome and take our eyes off the prize.
Feel good about who you are! If you don’t feel good about yourself then you need to work on it and it will make a world of difference.
Here is an older post I put together about self-esteem issues and particularly some of my past issues…
…and now back to the basics. These might seem so simple below, but count how many have distracted you.
Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Do you have one of those Smart Phones? Yea, they are great. Except now it’s like having an entertainment center everywhere you go and giving people the ability to
bug contact you anytime.
It’s great to have one of these gadgets when you’re stranded at the airport, bored at 2 a.m., on a long trip (and you’re not the one driving), need to look up some quick information or to have when you actually do need people to reach you.
So what’s the problem?
Most people have them turned on 24/7 and when we do, we limit our personal productivity. How many times have you been writing or working diligently on something and then someone knocks on your door or calls you and your mind is away from whatever you were doing for 5,10,15 minutes or even longer?
Now, think about what it was like going back to that task? Were you able to start exactly where you left off without hesitation? If so, congratulations you’re part of the 1% that can do that. I’m not.
Trust me, kill the cell.
Darn You Facebook!
OK, to be fair to Facebook it’s really all social media. This includes Pinterest, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Forums, Snip-It and any of the 1000 other social media networks out there.
Turn them off while you’re trying to get things done. It may not seem like much but each 5-6 minute distraction adds up throughout the day.
Don’t mistake what I am saying at all. Those networks have their place in building your business but they also have fun distractions. Fun distractions while trying to be more productive do not mix very well at all.
Radio, T.V. & News = Distraction
This is one of my weaknesses. I watch the NFL network all the time because I love football. Some days I’ll be in my office (I don’t dare put a T.V. in the office) and I’ll leave the T.V. on & tuned to the NFL Network in the next room.
I’ll be working and then I’ll hear “Breaking News!” Guess what? I stop working and run into the next room to hear what this breaking news is. Usually, I think it’ll only keep me away from my work for a couple of minutes. However, 35 minutes later I come strolling back to my office and it’s not easy to pick up where I left off.
I am sure I could go on and on about distractions but you get the point here. Tune out and turn off the distractions when you need to really just “get it done.”
It’s Not Just All About Distractions Though….
There is something back in the old drugstore days that took me quite a while to understand. I would work many hours and many days on end.
Sleep Well Tonight
I can share some funny stories with you about why you should never take sleeping medication when you’re already exhausted
(Men, ever been carried to bed by your wife? I have! Ladies, ever carry your man to bed? Anyway, another time another place – feel free to ask me and I’ll probably share this one with you).
I’d always assumed that working constantly was the only way to get things done.
Heck, I think it might have been the companies motto “Work and never stop working until you die!” I should have had that tattooed on my chest at the time.
Here’s the problem. If you always work, never take breaks, skip sleep, ignore all fun and basically become a slave to work it’ll destroy production and productivity.
I worked with a man named Tom at the time (who I am still friends with to this day) and he’d say things like “Hey, if we don’t stay here all night and keep working it’ll still be sitting here tomorrow.”
That’s a great thought process but he forgot to factor in that we’d already worked 12 hours straight by the time he said that. By the time hour 17 rolled around our bodies were disagreeing with his philosophy & our productivity dropped to a slow crawling pace.
Instead we should have stopped after a few hours of overtime and slept and gotten our rest before starting again. I’ve tested this several times now and every time I am rested I get much more work done.
Make sure you get sleep to increase your production. Along with getting sleep I’ve found that sleeping early and rising early works best for me. Not only do I feel well rested I feel at peace while I work. I also feel best with 7-8 hours of sleep, no more and no less.
I used to be a night owl and in fact, sometimes I still am. I like to work in the middle of the night in the silence. The problem I run into there is sometimes I ignore being tired and actually get less don in the middle of the night than I do after a good night of rest and rising early.
I love coffee and I am not ashamed to admit it! I drink 3-5 cups per day. I usually drink 2 cups in the morning and 2-3 in the afternoon. The caffeine helps stimulate the alertness in the brain, inspires creativity and tastes awesome!
Of course, overusing it will not benefit you at all so be careful. In fact, if you want to learn more Life Hacker had a great study on coffee effects here.
I can’t stress the need to exercise enough. When I first quit my job I gained 40 pounds in under 2 years. I started noticing a decrease in my health, productivity and my mindset suffered. In return I also took a severe blow to my self-esteem.
I have worked much of that off. In fact I do P90X now and feel MUCH better on a regular basis. What I’ve found is that just 20-30 minutes of exercise followed by a shower helps stimulate my mind.
When I sit back down at my desk and start working after that routine I find that my work ethic has increased, my attitude has increased for the better and I am extremely alert.
Trust me, try it!
Do Your Most Important Task First
Finally, one of my favorite things that provides great productivity is to tackle my biggest task first. Often, we try to knock-off the little projects first and get to the big one later in the day. The problem with that is sometimes by the time we tackle all of those little projects we miss out on the biggest project and put it off until the next day.
The result? We start the next day by tackling the little projects again, getting distracted and pushing the big task off, again. It’s a vicious never ending cycle.
So, do the #1 most important task early in the day while that cell phone is still off, Facebook window is shut, T.V is off, the rest of the family is sleeping and you have an overall time period of less distraction.
This works for me and I found that when I do not follow this method my productivity suffers. Sure, I get those little tasks done but the big one just sits there taunting me.
In closing I challenge you to change your life just a little bit! The things I outlined above work for me and when I do not use them I feel the effects.
What methods are you using? Share them with us below. Maybe you have some better ideas? Maybe you know something that will help people that work at home.
Share and let’s discuss!