Many moons ago, when I was a teacher, I had no issues at all about being more productive. Each morning I’d write myself a ‘to do’ list and work my way through it. Simples! As a Head it was even easier – write the list, sit at the desk, do the work – TA DA! So when I considered working from home for myself, I couldn’t see that it would be any harder. Surely, you write a list, do the list and TA DA! Hmmmm, turns out that doesn’t actually work. One Monday my husband asked me what I’d done during the day. I had a quick think and realised that my ‘done’ list didn’t read all that well:
Watching Homes Under The Hammer
Sitting sunbathing for 2 hours
Having a nap
Having coffee with a friend
Watching Escape To The Sun
Doing the school run
I’d managed to spend a whole day prevaricating and doing everything else except running my own little piece of the internet. Oh, to be fair though, I had spent a LOT of the day chatting to my lovely friends on Facebook – but turns out that doesn’t really count. It was at that moment that I had a bit of an ephiany (and believe me, I don’t have many of those! Far too deep for my normal every day life!)If I WANTED to continue working from home and DIDN'T want to have to go back to work then I had to find a way to be more productive! Click To Tweet
So I set out to find more ways to be more productive and get stuff done!
5 Easy Ways To Be More Productive And Get Stuff Done!
After about a year of trying, I have finally settled on my 5 ways to be more productive and get stuff done. I knew that they had to be easy to carry out and require very little thought or I could guarantee I’d be back on the sofa before you could say ‘The hammer’s down!’
Empty Your Head
I was finding that I had so many different things that I wanted to do during the day that it became incredibly overwhelming really fast. I’d think of one thing, go to do it and in the middle of it think of something else that I needed to do. So I’d change to that task and so on and so forth, until I’d started half a dozen tasks but completed none of them. Then I’d decide that it was just ridiculous and maybe I should take a quick TV break – and we all know how that turns out!
I realised that if, as soon as I woke up, I emptied my head of everything I could think of, at least I wasn’t continually distracted by my own thoughts. It is much easier to look at the list as I do one task after the other and not worry about missing something out! (The number of times I’ve missed / forgotten to order school meals is now getting embarrassing!) I wasn’t sure whether I’d spend such a long time writing stuff down that I’d do nothing else, but actually it’s kind of holding me accountable. It means that, at the end of the day, I can look back and actually feel as though I’ve been productive and got stuff done!
Leave The House
It turns out that I’m a bit of homebody. In fact I’m a little confused by people who say they need to get out of the house. After all, my house is where all my stuff is! Why would I want to go somewhere else? Well, I quickly realised that maybe being surrounded by all my stuff was part of the problem. There are so many things in my house that I want to do – even if it’s doing the laundry, but it meant I was never doing work stuff.In fact quite often it would be 9pm before I'd realise I'd done nothing on my blog, and then I became really stressed and fed up. That's NOT how I envisioned working from home would be. Click To Tweet
Then one day when I was randomly wandering around town, I stopped in to the local coffee shop and noticed a huge number of people in there with laptops and having meetings. Another eureka moment! I realised that maybe, in order to be more productive and get stuff done I needed to get out of the house. I’d originally thought that I could set up an office in the house, but in all honesty, I spent most of my time on the sofa with my laptop. NOT a great place to be productive.
So, I took the bull by the horns, gathered everything together and headed out to the local coffee shop – and what a FAB decision that was. Suddenly I was getting EVERYTHING done. With none of the distractions of home, no where else to go, a lovely cup of tea in front of me and peace and quiet, I was more productive than I’d been in months. (In fact, in case you are at all interest, I’m writing this blog post now in my local coffee shop!). The only downside??? Resisting all the cakes – but that’s a small price to pay!
Schedule Your Time (Sort of!)
As a teacher, this was always done for you. You knew exactly where to be and when, what to teach and when, how long things would last and so on. As a self employed blogger, NO ONE tells you what to do! Bliss yes?? Umm, yes, but then things really slip. I’d found that I was beginning to be more productive and I was getting my work done, but it was becoming really clear that things at home were beginning to slip. Nothing much to begin with – a few extra days before the hoover came out, school uniform being ironed at the last minute, school lunches – well let’s not get into that again shall we! So the question arose about how to ensure that all the things I needed to get done were getting done.
Writing everything down was really helping, and I knew what I needed to do, but I somehow wasn’t finding the time for it. It then hit me – if I gave myself a timetable for the day then that would keep me on track, keep me accountable and life would run so much smoother. So, I divided up the day into chunks and decided what I would do in each one. I put aside 2 hours in the morning to do the housework, chores, pay bills etc. Then I put aside 2 hours in the afternoon after the kids came home from school to play with them and enjoy being Mum. The middle of the day was ‘working’ hours. The evenings were divided up into relaxation time, organisation for the next day (signing permission slips, getting swimming kits ready), and then another hour of work to answer emails.
Yep – it didn’t work!
Turns out that my life can’t be as closely scheduled as that – I needed flexibility to deal with issues as they arose. If I had a sudden brilliant idea for a blog post in the middle of cleaning, I didn’t want to have to keep going until the ‘work’ hours. I know for a fact that this works so well for some people, but NOT for me! The temptation was to just give it up as a bad job and throw it away – but I still needed something. So I used the ‘Leave the house’ tip, and determined that when I was in the coffee shop or library, THAT would be my key working time. I’d use that time to just concentrate on work and not worry about everything else – but if I was at home I’d be much more flexible!
However, I did instigate the 1 minute rule. If something would only take 1 minute to do, then I’d do it straight away. A toy needing tidying? The bins needing emptied? Cereal bowls to put in the dishwasher? All 1 minute jobs, and all done as soon as I noticed them. That’s made a HUGE difference in my life. I’m also firm about keeping the afternoons to just be with the kids, but that might not be playing, it might be cooking dinner, helping them with their chores, or watching TV with them. After all – as someone once said (well kind of!) :