Hey there. Yes - you. I see you over there, hustling your booty off, feeling like you’re just spinning your wheels. Entrepreneur life definitely isn’t easy. It’s hard to work from home with distractions everywhere you look. You try to stay on track, but there are literally a million things staring you in the face, and they all needed to be done YESTERDAY! I’ve been there, and I wanted to share a few of the easy hacks I’ve implemented to stay productive and focused. Let’s go!
1. Wake up earlier
This is SOOO HARD for a lot of people, and I get it! I LOVEEEE my bed…it’s a warm, cozy haven that I'd lounge in much more often if I could. But let’s face it- if you want to succeed at your passion, you gotta get movin!! Set an alarm and title it with an intentional, empowering message to yourself. Something that you’ll feel hella guilty for pressing snooze on. When you get into the routine of waking up earlier, you’ll feel more refreshed and ready to tackle your to-do list. You will feel ahead of the game, instead of rushed and already behind schedule.
2. Batch work
I’ve found that in my business, batching work helps me sooo much with being more efficient about getting work done. If you’re sitting there thinking “What the HECK is she talking about?!?”, batch work is when you pick one type of task (let’s say blogging…) and assigning that task to one day of the week (we’ll go with Monday). In this example, you would take Monday and write multiple blog posts (ideally enough for the next week or two). Chug out as much as you MEANINGFULLY can. Each day of the week can be dedicated to batching a different aspect of your business (editing, content creation, social media scheduling, etc.) When you approach work intentionally, you are more focused on what you are doing each day and you can easily get ahead of schedule! No more trying to catch up- you will eventually be weeks ahead of your schedule!!!
3. Shut off your phone
Ok, so you don’t actually have to turn it completely off- you can put it on Silent, Do Not Disturb, Airplane Mode, or just stick it in another room, away from temptation. How often have you been working when you get a notification? Maybe it’s that DREAM client that you’ve been talking to, and they are finally ready to commit? But no…..it’s social media, and you start scrolling through new updates. Before you know it, 20 minutes have gone by- wait, WHAT?!?! All of a sudden, you’re off-track, distracted, and completely detached from your work. Try as you might, you just can’t re-focus, so you look back through social media for inspiration. It’s a vicious cycle that undermines your productivity. Just FYI, my hand is wayyyyy up in the air right now, because I’m so guilty of this! But I’ve found that when I purposefully detach from my phone during work hours, I’m better able to efficiently complete whatever task I’ve set for myself. Try it for yourself; I promise your phone won’t spontaneously combust or grow legs and run away. It’ll be there when you get back, and you’ll feel so much more accomplished.
4. Create a weekly schedule
I honestly don’t know how I functioned before I started writing down my daily and weekly tasks. Whether you use a physical planner, an app on your phone, or an online calendar like Google, set aside time at the beginning of your week to plan out your schedule. Scientific studies have proven that you are almost 150% more likely to complete tasks when you write them down in brief detail. Who doesn't want to be more effective?! Focus on which days you plan to batch work, when you have meetings, personal events- the works. Having a game plan for the week is so incredibly relieving; I no longer stress over what I’m doing each day and letting things fall through the cracks. Carving out the time at the beginning of the week will save you HOURS as you go through each day!
5. Go to bed on time
Sooo, we already touched on waking up earlier, so for everyone who groaned, rolled their eyes, and said “Ummmm- not me!”, here’s how you can do that. Maybe you stayed up too late finishing a project, or your kids woke up in the middle of the night, or you’re just an insomniac who stays up binge-watching Netflix. ZERO judgment here, friend! But just keep in mind- your body NEEDS sleep, and if you’re depriving yourself of rest, you aren’t able to be your best self. Try this: set an alarm at night to signal yourself to get ready for bed. Even if you’re in the middle of working, find a good stopping point and pick up your work in the morning. After a couple of weeks, your body will adjust to the routine! By going to bed earlier, you are allowing yourself to get more rest, and you will be more refreshed and focused in the morning!
6. Drink more water
I have a funny story for you. I know a girl who went on this AH-MAZING European adventure in the summer of 2018. I’m talking shooting a surprise engagement in Italy, a breathtaking session in the Scottish Highlands, and hanging out in Greece. Drinking water was the absolute LAST priority on her list, and it was all good until - BAM- she found herself in a random hospital in the middle of nowhere Greece with kidney stones severe enough to need medical intervention. You’ve probably already guessed, but yepppp - that was me!! I was literally laying in a hospital bed with my computer in my lap, desperately trying to stay on top of my to-do list. So listen up - your body is made of almost 60% water, and your brain is almost 75% water!! When you are dehydrated, you are literally forcing your brain to work under its capacity and limiting your ability to work efficiently. If you’re feeling tired or unable to focus, that could be your brain begging you to take in more water! Instead of taking a nap, drink some water and take a 20-minute brain break. You may feel more refreshed and ready to keep killing it! I’ve learned my lesson (the hard way ugh), and I’ve noticed my productivity and focus increase since I’ve purposely increased my water intake. Because who has time for kidney stones?! Thank u, next!
7. Say the word “no” more
Real talk- saying no is HARDDDD. It’s not something I’m good at, and I’ve spent the past year working on being more intentional with my boundaries. My goal is to really think about whether I’m saying “eh, ok” or “HELLZ YEAH!”. Because if my gut isn’t just jumping at the opportunity; if I’m pausing to weigh the pros and cons before I make the decision, then the answer should really be a no. This applies to any opportunity- taking on a client, taking part in a podcast, or meeting someone for coffee. If there isn’t a fire inside me to take that opportunity, then I know I probably don't need to be doing whatever it is. Protecting your time should be ranked higher than protecting your money. Focus on reserving your time for those tasks that nourish your soul, and that will lead to a higher level of dedication to your work. Once that happens, you won’t need to worry about protecting your cash flow; that’ll happen as a natural effect of your more focused work! Every time you say “yes” in a lukewarm manner, you are saying no to other opportunities- family time, editing, blogging, or some much needed ‘you’ time! Don’t allow a hesitant “yes” now lead to regret because you have to turn down a dream opportunity later. Be intentional, set boundaries, and you will become more efficient!
8. Take mini breaks
Often when I’m working and chugging away, there is only so long I can go before I get super distracted and realize I’ve been staring at my screen blankly for who knows how long, unable to remember what I was trying to accomplish. My efficiency is down the drain and I’m not doing my best work, which is a disservice to my clients! Instead of trying to push through and finish, get up, move around, and let you brain reset for a few minutes! If you’re trying to drink more water (#6, anyone?), this is a great time for a bathroom break. Get a snack, do some yoga, go outside an soak up some Vitamin D. After about 10 minutes, you’ll be ready to tackle that project with your best perspective. You’ll be refreshed, reset, and ready to be more efficient.
9. Cultivate a creative space to work
I know that not everyone has an office or dedicated workspace- I’ve been there and I get it! But wherever you are working should be an area that soothes you and brings you peace. For me, I’ve worked really hard to create an aesthetically pleasing workspace in my home. It’s clean, sleek, and organized. Your surroundings will help inspire you, so if you’re surrounded by clutter, how is that subconsciously going to affect your diligence and your effort? If you don’t have a spot in your home that you can dedicate to creating a cultivated workspace, head out to your favorite coffee shop! Grab a drink, pop in your headphones, and get focused. Some cities even have flexible workspaces/ shared office spaces that you can use daily, weekly, or monthly. These are designed for entrepreneurs and people who work remotely and are developed to create a soothing workspace. Just ensure that your workspace creatively fuels you so that you can work more purposefully
10. Set daily, weekly, & monthly goals
We are often so focused on treading water with our day-to-day tasks that we lose sight of creating long term goals. This is one of the most dangerous things you can do an an entrepreneur! You will be more productive and grow your business (and yourself!) if you set daily, weekly, and monthly goals AND create a game plan to achieve those goals. The best way I’ve found to do this is to work backwards. Let’s say you have a monthly goal that you want to achieve. The first thing you need to do if to set a date by which that goal should be accomplished. Then, you need to determine the big-picture action steps that you need to take to reach that goal. Assign these as weekly goals, then break them down into smaller tasks. These smaller tasks will be your daily tasks. Make sense? That way, this large, overwhelming goal is suddenly made manageable because you’ve identified an end date, identified each step along the way, and made daily to-dos. Before you know it, you’ve surpassed your goal and you're on to the next. The same principle applies to longer-term goals: 1-year, 5-year, 20-year, retirement, etc. Don’t get bogged down with seemingly impossible tasks- you can break any goal down into small, achievable steps.
Phew… that was a lot, right!? The first thing you should do after reading this is to stop and take a breath. Maybe you think like you’ve got a handle on some things, but are floundering in other areas. Make a list of all the things that you feel like you are doing well with. Be honest with yourself- your list will probably be longer than you think! Then think about areas where you can uplevel your efforts. Choose just one or two at first, and use the tips above to increase your focus and become more intentional with your efforts. Don't try to affect lots of change at once- you’ll end up doing things halfway, give up because it ‘isn’t working’, then return to your old, ineffective habits. Make this the time when you follow through, stop spinning your wheels, and really gain traction in your business (and your life)!!
Now I’d love to know, which tip was the most eye opening for you!? Which tip do you struggle with the most? Let’s chat down in the comments, and work through being efficient, while working from home, together!
Lindsey Roman is an adventurous destination wedding and intimate elopement photographer based out of Oahu, Hawaii, but she travels worldwide. She lives for outdoor adventures, intimate moments, and candid images. Her style is raw, passionate, and authentic. She believes in chasing sunsets, laughing too hard, and most importantly: capturing genuine moments that evoke feeling over perfectly posed photographs.