Working from home is often considered a dream opportunity… until reality sets in.
What do you do when screaming kids, innocent interruptions, household noise, and other distractions keep you from getting your work done, and are taking your business and family life out of balance?
That's what we'll be discussing today… How to make working from home the ideal situation you once hoped it could be.
We'll get to exactly how we're going to do that. But first, let me share a story with you.
What Nobody Tells You About Working From Home
It had been about three months since I started working solely from home, and I could no longer focus.
Every interruption triggered my already existing fears and “what if” questions.
It was almost like I was looking for an outside excuse to fail because then I would have something external to blame. Instead of finding out I just wasn't good enough to succeed at my dream.
But what was my family supposed to do now that I was working from home? Were my little kids supposed to stop laughing and playing?
Could movies and tv only be watched if they were wearing headphones?
Blenders, vacuums, doorbells, closing doors, clinking pans, musical toys, visitors, phone calls, honking horns, and every kind of noise making element around me… did that all have to be banned during work hours?
There's no way.
While my expectations weren't as extreme as what I just mentioned, they were still unrealistic.
And those expectations were hurting my personal relationships and professional productivity.
So what was I to do?
It's Why You're Slowing Down That Matters
I've learned that the answers we seek are often more easily found when we take the time to slow down and process.
Which, of course, is the exact opposite of what our microwave, Alexa-answer-me-this-now society and culture has us doing.
And when all those plates are spinning, how can you honestly expect to feel okay, slowing down? Your experience may say that's to be when plates fall, when balls are dropped, or when trouble flares its ugly head.
But what I learned is that slowing down is not the problem.
It's why you slow down, that can either derail momentum or catapult your progress.
When I slowed down the right way to do the right things, my rate of productivity more than doubled. Which easily compensated for and even justified the “downtime.”
I was now getting more work done in less time. And the work I was doing was better.
I felt less stress, less worry, less fear and less pressure related to my business. And I felt more focused and engaged with the work I was doing.
I even begin taking advantage of the incredible benefits of working from home.
I began having lunch with my wife and kids. I began taking breaks to play dinosaurs or My Little Pony with my kids.
And again, I was doing this all while getting more and better work done.
So let me share with you what I did that took this working from home downward spiral experience, and elevated it to receive the full benefits of the opportunity.
Here we go, are you ready?
The Right Way to Slow Down to Gain Momentum
Alright, remember how I said why we slow down is what matters?
Imagine you're on a cross country road trip, you're traveling at high speeds across the highway and enjoying the change of scenery.
Every now and then you come to a rest stop and you pull over. You park the car and everyone remains seated. You continue your current conversation until 10 or 15 minutes have passed. And then you turn the car back on, exit the rest stop and continue on your way.
Completely pointless. A totally unnecessary delay.
But what if at that same rest stop, passengers got out to use the facilities. And while they did so, you check the map and realize there's a turn off coming up that will cut time off your trip and take you through some scenic country roads.
Before you set off, everyone feels refreshed and you have an updated better plan.
Would that be worth a stop? Absolutely.
It's What Successful Businesses Do
Businesses do this consistently throughout the year. They call it a SWOT analysis.
It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal, like passengers that are no longer enjoying the ride because they need to use the facilities.
Opportunities and threats are external, like an upcoming turn off that will save time and provide a more enjoyable drive.
Taking the time to define your present situation does wonders for improving balance in your life.
Now let's break it down how this process applies to improve balance as you work from home by defining your present.
Asking the Right Questions
First, you want to look at what's going on with yourself by looking at things you can directly control.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as it relates to working from home?
For example, a strength could be you love being up early before others so that you can prepare your day. You could use that strength to get up a bit earlier to put in some work before distractions begin.
An example of a weakness could be that you get upset quickly by outside distractions. You could ask yourself, how can you turn that weakness into a strength?
Do you implement a breathing practice every time you begin to get upset before you respond?
Do you put a couple questions on a card by your computer monitor to help you check your emotions when you feel things rising?
The answer is going to be personal to you, and it may take a few different attempts to see what works best.
A good rule of thumb is to identify two strengths for every weakness you list. This can help you see the good in what you're doing, and keep you from beating yourself up.
Now let's look at the external elements of defining your present. What are the opportunities and threats you cannot control that are impacting you as you work from home?
Quick hint: whether something is an opportunity or a threat almost always depends on your perspective.
Consider the threat of family members being very loud and distracting. Well, that can be turned into an opportunity by using those distractions from time to time as reminders to go engage with your family members.
Or in my case, there was a really nice pair of noise cancelling headphones I wanted, but they were expensive. The ongoing threat of loud distractions in my home was turned into an opportunity for me to spend the bucks on the nice headphones I wanted.
It also provided a solution to the distracting noises.
Analyzing Without Judging
It's important to avoid judging as you go through internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
And that might sound impossible based on the nature of what I'm instructing you to do.
But remember, it is a SWOT analysis, not a SWOT judgment.
To judge is to reach a conclusion, to assign meaning to what is discovered. To judge is to say, because I have loud noises distracting me at my home office, that means… I made a mistake… or I can't do this… or my business is going to fail, etc.
An analysis is to examine or investigate something. It is to give an honest look at a situation and discover the desired direction.
So as you do this, you are not creating conclusions. conclusions are endpoints, they're dead ends, okay?
You are not creating conclusions to what is taking place, you are discovering how to open doors to your success.
When you approach defining your present from that perspective and mindset, from the perspective and mindset that says, what does this make possible? What doors does this open? How can I use this to open doors to my success?
When you have that perspective and mindset, you're opening yourself to greater possibilities.
You are doing what is necessary to have more balance with your business and family.
One Simple Step
So here's what I want you to do today:
Take 15 minutes to walk through what we discussed, and come up with one thing you can begin today to help improve your productivity and reduce your stress as you work from home.
That's it. 15 minutes to go over what we discussed, and come up with one action that's going to help you today.
Look, working from home isn't always the Nirvana some people imply.
You must take the time to define your present situation. So you can determine what's working, what's not working, and then what to do about it.
As you do this, keep your mind open to discovering what doors are opening. It will prove far more useful than judging yourself and judging others.
Your increased productivity, reduced stress, and simply embracing the best parts of working from home can begin with just 15 minutes to walk through what we covered today.
And the best part is slowing down to do those 15 minutes will propel you forward with more momentum at a faster speed in the right direction.
And that's what you and I do, we keep moving forward.
A Quick Reminder
I hope you enjoyed today's article and I look forward to hearing your success stories.
Remember that each Thursday at 9:00 am Pacific I will be live on Facebook, @theJoePomeroy to answer questions, provide support, and cheer on your successes as you implement the material from the podcast.
So set a reminder and I'll see you this coming Thursday at 9:00 am Pacific on Facebook, @theJoePomeroy.