When you think about working from home, three things probably come to mind: Sleeping in, working in your pajamas, and having a flexible schedule. Sounds perfect, right?
But, working from home isn’t necessarily an 8-hour pajama party. Whether you’ve just started or you’ve been working from home for some time, you’ve probably discovered that there’s another side to working from home: avoiding the temptation to procrastinate.
In this three-part series, I’ll look at some of the challenges of working from home and how to tackle them to fully reap the rewards of working from home.
Let’s start with self-discipline.
Do deadlines always seem to creep up on you? With no boss around to check your hours and no set schedule, it’s easy to find yourself relaxing a little too much before reality sends you scrambling.
This lack of discipline can affect your productivity and, ultimately, your success. Here are 5 tips to harness your self-discipline to enjoy the full benefits of working from home.
1. Set a Schedule and Stick to It
Start off simple and keep your goals realistic.
If you’re like me and you love to check things off your to-do list, then do yourself a favor and keep your list short and sweet! Set only one or two “must do” tasks for the day. Giving yourself too much to do will be overwhelming and discourage you from finishing your list.
Once you determine the bare minimum for your to-do list, remember that it’s exactly that, a starting point—build on it little by little until you find your productivity sweet spot. If you can only work when the kids are in school, do that. If you need to break your work day up into 2 or 3 hour chunks to accommodate your toddler’s nap times, do that.
Figure out what schedule works best for you and stick to it.
2. Wake Up Early
The temptation to sleep in is huge when you have no office to go to and no boss breathing down your neck if you show up late. You may even ask yourself, “What’s the rush on this project, anyway?”
However, studies have shown that the earlier you wake up, the more productive you are. According to Inc.com, morning people are more proactive, and as work-from-home moms, proactivity is the name of the game. All of this is actually great news for us moms since most of us have little walking alarm clocks that rarely give us the option to oversleep!
I’ve found that one of the keys to my productivity is rising before my darling little alarm clocks wake up so that I can clear my head and plan my day in peace. That’s not to say that your late night hours can’t be productive. But, let’s face it—as a mom, being a night owl is difficult and exhausting. Because your kids are most active during the day, it makes sense that you’ll need to be, too.
Continue to wake up at the time you used to wake up when you had an office job. But this time around, start your day by relishing the fact that you’re not rushing out the door with a piece of toast in your mouth, frantically throwing on your heels as you head out for a 12-hour work day.
3. Get Dressed
As tempting as it is to stay in your pajamas all day—don’t do it! Pajamas leave your brain in sleepy mode.
When you think of business attire, what comes to mind? An outfit that radiates focus, power, professionalism, control, and self-discipline. That’s the frame of mind you need to be in even when working at home.
Remember, if you look the part, it’s easy to act the part. You want to be self-disciplined? Then dress like you mean it!
4. Stay Ahead of Deadlines
As a mom, we all know that things don’t always go as planned—okay, they pretty much never go as planned! Plus, there are those moments when we just need a little time-out from everything.
As work-at-home moms, the temptation in those moments is to say to ourselves, “I’ll do it later,” or, “I can just finish this tomorrow.” Once you start saying that, before you know it, it’s the day before the deadline and you’ve made no progress.
Anticipate and prepare for those needed time-outs and crazy days by staying ahead of your deadlines. This will help ensure that when you do give yourself a much needed day off, you can do so guilt-free!
5. Reward Yourself
Speaking of guilt-free days off—what an excellent way to reward yourself for the hard work you’ve done!
This tactic is similar to “bribing” your kids into doing their chores, except it’s for you. Do your work before you go get your nails done. Or, treat yourself to ice cream. Whatever motivates you!
Some may call it bribery, but I call it a well-deserved reward. Just make sure you’re disciplining yourself so that your reward really is well deserved. You could even put in a few extra hours from Monday to Thursday and give yourself Friday off. This would give you extra time to yourself to do whatever you want while the kids are in school.
Self-Discipline and Working from Home: Create Good Habits
Some of these tips may seem like temporary fixes, like rewarding yourself with a trip to the nail salon for getting your work done. But you’ll soon discover that once you get into a groove, these tips will become good habits.
With time and practice you’ll learn to silence the procrastinator in you and become a lean, mean, self-disciplined machine! Ultimately, your work schedule will reflect your determination and endurance.
In Part 2, I’ll take a look at another big challenge when it comes to working from home: Lack of community. I’ll share helpful tips for battling the isolation that can drive you crazy.
Looking for a different approach to working from home? Reach out to us at Moms Making Six Figures to learn how we can help you better balance your career and family life!