I love working at home. I’ve been running my business from home for 15 years and I will tell you that I am not suited for going back to work in an office. I tried it part time for a short while, and it was a disaster. I mean I’m not saying I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery because I worked in an office, but I’m not gonna say it wasn’t a contributing factor.
But here’s the thing, staying focused when you work from home – especially when you work for yourself – can be tough stuff. Depending on what your life looks like you could have kids, pets, or partners distracting you on the regular. Not to mention just the regular upkeep of a home is a never-ending quest. So it’s easy to get sidetracked and start a load of laundry and next thing you know it’s bedtime!
It’s easier for me now that the boys are grown, but I still can get super distracted – even if I’m still sitting at my desk. So I have put some systems in place over the years to help keep me on track. One of those is having a husband who comes down for lunch and dinner like clockwork – he works from home in his office upstairs. So I always break to have lunch with him – even if that lunch is just coffee. And I break at 5pm whether I want to or not – to do the daily what’s for dinner dance.
But the most important tools in my toolbox are timers and coworking. And they go together around here. I’ve been testing out coworking on some of my friends who are also creative business owners and let me just tell you it is the best thing ever. I’ve actually set up a coworking membership for folks like us – I’m super excited!
But I use the timers whether I’m in a coworking zoom or working on my own. I like the pomodoro method – or tomato timer. I guess it’s named that because the person who invented it used one of those adorable little tomato shaped kitchen timers. I have some blocks that I use that have different time increments on them – you flip the block and the timer starts.
So the basic premise is 25 minutes of work and then a 5 minute break. When I’m working on my own, I use those 5 minutes to get water, to take a bathroom break, to make more coffee, you know all the important things. I find it’s super good for me to get up and stretch my legs so I don’t become one with my office chair. It’s really important that you know exactly what you are working on when the timer starts – that way you don’t waste those 25 minutes futzing around.
When we do coworking, we do 25 minutes of focused work, and because it’s currently a small group of us – we use the 5 minutes to check in and make sure we are all on task and to celebrate any wins someone in the group has had. I don’t know why but there’s something about having a screen full of friends all working at the same time that makes me want to smash my goals. You know, I’ve been avoiding getting a double monitor set up for years – the man swears by them – and it’s magic for these coworking sessions. I can have all my coworkers up on one screen and get my work done on the other. I know one of my friends does the zoom on an ipad so she can keep her computer screen free for work!
One of the extra bonuses of using timers is that if you do get distracted and wander down a doomscroll hole you’ve never lost more than 25 minutes of time and it’s easy to get back on track!