People often tell me that I’m lucky as I run a business from home. But at times, I find it hard to maintain productivity – sometimes I would rather be at an office, away from my messy kitchen or the piles of laundry that our family produces.
Early in my business start up, I made a commitment to myself that I’d treat my work-from-home job with as much professionalism as an office job. Each morning, I get up early and get dressed (no working in my pajamas) before heading down to my office.
Now two years into my business, I've found some ways to streamline my workflow and improve my productivity. Here are some of my tips along some amazing nuggets of advice from a few other professionals and business owners.
1. Get Focused on Your Important Tasks: This is critical. My friend, Cathy Kuzel from The Connected Woman puts together a clear schedule of business actions each day. It's easy to get caught up in "busy work," but not accomplish those big items that will help you move forward in your career or business.
2. Keep Your To-Do List Full: When I’m swamped, I hustle. Where I struggle is when things get slower. In times like that, I make a long “to-do” list of all the lower priority items that I had been meaning to get to. I need at least 15 things on my list to feel motivated. Maren Hanson, Regional HR Manager at Whole Foods, suggests using the Outlook Task section to keep organized.
3. Find an Accountability Partner: I work better under pressure. When I find myself procrastinating, I find an accountability partner, often someone in my field, with whom I can share my goals for the week. Usually, we’ll check in at the beginning and at the end of the week.
4. Use a KanBan Board: My husband introduced me to the idea of a KanBan board and I love it! Using a whiteboard, you write down your tasks on sticky notes. Then you set up your board with the following categories: To Do, In-Progress, and Done.
As you start and complete tasks, you move the sticky notes across the board. I love the satisfaction of watching my Done section fill up with sticky notes!
5. Tidy Your Working Space: My work space gets chaotic, quickly. Sometimes, to improve my productivity, I need to take 10 minutes to organize and clean. It truly makes a difference in clearing my head.
6. Use Technology: Knowing that I only have a certain amount of time makes me more focused. I use the timer on my phone to get into a more focused work mode when I have a specific task to complete. Business Development Coach, Lisa van Reeuwyk suggests using the Focus Keeper or Pomodoro app.
7. Get Rid of Distractions: Turn off your social media while working and clean up your inbox. Recently, I unsubscribed to a variety of advertising emails. It wasn’t adding any value to my life and my head feels clearer without those distractions.
8. Use Outlook Signatures as Templates: My friend, Sharon Graham, shared this amazing tip which I use all the time. You can set up template emails in Outlook, using the signature feature. Now to populate an email, I simply click on the appropriate signature.
If you have any other productivity tips that work for you, let me know in the comments.
All the best. You got this.
Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace.