One of the hardest transitions from office life to working from home is time management. Not the, “Oh I have so much to do, so little time” kind of management. The kind where you say, “How the crap did I just spend 2 hours on Facebook” kind. Or worse, “How is it noon and I’m still in my pjs” kind.
It’s ludicrous how quickly you go from being Miss Punctual to Miss What Day Is It.
(For those of you who work in an office environment … this information will be helpful to you as well. Promise.)
Setting clear boundaries around the time you have in your day is critical.
We live in a culture that commends people for being accessible 24/7 and I’ve decided I’m not sure I want that anymore. Why? Because 99.9% of my correspondences can wait a few hours.
Here’s what I’m testing out … so far so good:
1. I have office hours. For those of you who work from home … quit lying to yourself that you’re building a strong business by burning the midnight oil. Work smarter, not harder. If clients know they can contact you whenever they want and get a response, that’s your own damn fault. You determine when you’re available and let them know when they can reach you. There will be times when you need to work a little overtime or be “on call” but it doesn’t have to be the way you operate every day.
2. I turned off my alerts. Yep. No email or Facebook buzzes or beeps. I still haven’t turned off Twitter (baby steps). But can I just tell you how incredible this feels? You know the second that phone buzzes, you’ve got it in your hand and are scrolling through the information. THE. SECOND. IT. BUZZES. It’s remarkable how well our phones have trained us. Don’t let your phone run your life! (If the hubs is reading this, he’s saying, “Yeah!! You freaking hypocrite!)
3. I set aside specific days to have face-to-face meetings. Again, some people don’t have as flexible of a schedule as I do, so I allow wiggle room for specific clients/friends. HOWEVER. Most people I work with are ok with modifying their schedule if we set the appointment a week in advance. For me I have designated two days out of the week to schedule appointments with people. That way I don’t have to interrupt my other days with meetings that were supposed to be an hour long, but end up being 2.5 because of parking and traffic.
Things I’m working towards:
Not leaving my email on. I’d like to only check my email 4 times a day. That’s every 2 hours for a given 8 hour work day. This would require I close my email account and set an alarm every two hours for when I could check it. Seriously. How much more productive would you be? Again, if I’m working on a project with my business partners, we can use video chat, instant messaging or work from our shared docs in gmail. There is no reason for me to respond IMMEDIATELY to a client. I think they can hold it for a few hours.
Not checking my phone the second I wake up. Sure, a lot happens in the world while I’m asleep. My east coast Twitter feed is already on a roll by the time I wake up and I have 30 Living Social emails waiting for a trip to the trashcan. But my brain needs some space in the morning to think and get organized. It also needs some space to get creative. And I can’t do that when I’m distracting it first thing in the morning with junk I don’t even care about.
The reason I’m trying to protect my time is simple: I feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions. I want to spend more time managing my home without feeling guilty that I’m not being accessible enough to my clients. I want to spend more quality time focusing on things that matter to me so I feel like I’m living with purpose. And I want to be more intentional about the time I invest in my business. I needed a chance for all the things in my life that I care about to feel like they have my full attention. Can I get an amen?
So far, I feel less stressed, have way more energy and feel more prepared.
What interruptions do you wish you could get rid of?