Today I want to talk to you a little bit about what it means to work from home and how to stop the distractions that can often happen when you’re working from a home office, and you’re not out in the real world in a brick and mortar.
So I’ve been working from a home office since the late 1990s. Actually my previous job was in promotional advertising. And I had to learn very early on how to be self-disciplined. How to stop listening to the dryer ding, not to be distracted by the cat walking across my desk. It was not easy. It was not an easy task. But with almost 20 years of working from home behind me, I feel like I’ve mastered this.
I want to give you a couple of tips on how to make it more manageable to actually have that home office and be a successful entrepreneur at the same time.
So many of you are actually interested in going out into the world into a brick and mortar because you believe that you need to be outside of your home to be able to get the work done that you need to get done. But, you also have the heart to want to be at home. You want to be at home and be able to pick up your children. You want to set your own schedule. So there can be this pull and tug and back and forth on which one’s going to be best for you.
So first of all, I want you to release yourself from the pressure that you have to be able to master this right away. It’s going to take time. Any new habit or anything that creates a change like this takes time to get used to.
So one of the first things that I encourage people to do is pretend that your home office is actually an office that you go to work in. And that means telling everyone in your family that when mom or dad is in this office or on this call or doing this live, that they are to pretend that you’re not even there unless there’s an emergency. An emergency could be anything from somebody has hurt themselves or something has happened, but it’s not, emergency is not, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Or, “Honey, when is dinner going to be ready?”
These are these boundaries that we set up around ourselves to have a successful business by letting our family know and our friends know that just because I work in the home, doesn’t mean my job is not just as important as if I were out in the world.
So pretend that your home office is actually an office that you go to every single day. Now the second part of that is, you can even put a sign on the door. You can have one of those door hangers on there that says, “Do not disturb unless in case of an emergency.” Or only if there’s an emergency or something like that. So people really take you seriously.
The second thing is this. You’ve got to structure your time on a schedule, whether it’s in your phone or on a paper calendar like me.
I’m still a pen to paper girl. I probably always will be. Everyone who knows me really well knows that I love the feel of a pen in my hand. I love to write things down. It commits to memory better for me. And I feel like I have more control. Also, I’m really tired of all the blue light and all the exposure I’m getting to EMFs and things like that so paper and pen just kind of makes me feel a little bit less frazzled and helps me to remember things better.
But in that calendar I have the most important priorities and the most important things that have a deadline or a timeframe that things have to be completed by. So that’s how I always start my day. I go directly to that calendar, I look at the most important things that have a scheduled time or something that I absolutely have to be present for. Maybe it’s an interview or I have a client call or maybe I have a doctor’s appointment, whatever it may be. I try to separate those personal things from the business things, but they have to be in the same calendar. Because I made a very big mistake many years ago of having two separate calendars. One for business and one for personal. And some of my appointments were crossing over. So if you do have two separate calendars, that’s okay, just make sure that you’re cross-checking those things every day.
So I always go ahead and accomplish those things first. Those are the first things that I look at and that I know that I’m committed to. The second thing that I do is I take anything that I didn’t finish the day before that wasn’t a time limited thing or something that had a deadline on it and I transfer it over into the next day. And I look at what can I fit in and what can I get done with the time that I’m allowed in between these appointments. The other thing I also do is I have a hard stop on my day. It’s very, very easy to take your work day and keep flowing through dinnertime and just say I’ll be with you guys in a minute. Dinner’s on the table I’ve got to finish this or I’ve got to do that. But what that’s going to do is it’s going to create that burnout and it’s going to really actually cause problems in your own personal life as well. And I know this because I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I have actually missed many meals back in my early days of health coaching because I felt like I just had to keep working.
The other thing that I used to do also is stay up past the time frame that I should be staying up. So my circadian rhythm got all messed up by being on the computer with my mind on work past a specific time. And at the time for me I believe it was closer to the 8:30, 9:00 timeframe that I kept working into. So once I created that hard stop, I’ve had a little bit of variety in there. Some days I might work it 30 minutes later or just pop to answer some quick tags on Facebook. But once I decided that this is the timeframe that I will not be working at all, everything got so much better. My sleep got better, my stress level got better, and I had to adopt that mentality of this can wait. Nothing is an emergency except an emergency, which is another one of my famous sayings.
So unless it’s something urgent that has to be taken care of by the time that you have a scheduled appointment or something that has a deadline, it’s not really an emergency. We put so much stress on ourselves as health coaches to stick to deadlines, to get things done, to maximize our day and get the most out of it because we’re building this business. And while it’s a great idea and it’s a great mentality to keep staying motivated, it can actually cause you problems with your health, it can cause problems with motivation for the next day, it can create bitterness and burnout.
Working from home does not have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be scary, it doesn’t have to be difficult. But you do have to have some methods put in place, and guidelines put in place so that you can stay committed and you can stay on track.
And that means maybe stepping outside of the idea that you’re actually in your home. Again, recapping, stepping into that office as if you’re going to an actual job. Letting everyone know that you are at work when either the door is closed or the sign is hanging. Making sure that you have a schedule, that you’re taking care of those scheduled priorities first. And then the other things that take a day or two. Like writing blogs or creating content. Maybe reading up on some things. That can wait. It’s not an emergency unless it’s got a deadline or a date. And then making sure that you have a hard stop. So that you don’t burnout and that you have time to spend with your family and to do the things that you’re creating that at-home business for. Having a business from home is for you. It’s not for your clients, it’s for you.
It’s to give you that freedom, that flexibility. The ability to feel good about what you’re doing and not burn yourself out at the risk of your own health and creating problems for yourself through too much stress.
So those were the first three things that really kind of got me on track. And the last thing is just relax about this. Relax about the job, about building the business. Try not to see everything as so urgent and important. Because even if you are sitting calmly working on something or with a client, your body knows if you’re feeling a sense of urgency. And we all know what that fight or flight feels like. Most of America’s living in fight or flight today.
And if I could say there’s one warning for health coaches today, is that the last thing you want to do is sabotage your own health to help other people with theirs. So I’m going to follow-up with a little bit more training on that topic as well. Drop your comments below and let me know if you have fears about working from your own home office. If you have any tips that you’d like to share, that would be fantastic. I know we’d love to hear from you. And also don’t forget to visit us at the InstituteForFunctionalHealthCoaching.com and learn more about how to be a successful functional health coach.