I'm so pleased to welcome Rosanne Bowman to the blog today! Rosanne is a published children's author and brilliant business mom! She has 4 great productivity hacks for Mompreneurs to share! Here's Rosanne!
I am in my sixth year of working from home, and I love the flexibility that gives me. Not only does it make me more available to my boys, but it also allows me to step in to help my parents as they get older.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m actually not all that self-disciplined. Having a weekly deadline has made me get my work done, but for the first several years, I didn’t get much else done besides those articles for which I had immediate deadlines. I tend to be a fritterer, and I can easily waste an entire morning – heck, an entire day – with absolutely nothing to show for it.
So over the last six years, I discovered four surprising things that have helped my productivity. Most of them actually have nothing directly to do with working, but they create a working mindset for me. That mindset, in turn, helps me get things done. As someone who is allergic to schedules and structure, I had to set aside my identity as a free spirit and embrace making my bed, getting ready for the day, creating a work space, and setting business hours.
Making those four changes has made a huge difference in my daily productivity, and it has helped me create a mindset that has enabled me to reach my goals of becoming a published author. I currently have three non-fiction children’s books on Amazon, and I have several other projects that are in progress.
You may wonder what these four things have to do with work productivity, but each one will train your brain to think business rather than “let’s watch cute cat videos!”
Treating your work like a business is the difference between a hobby and a profitable endeavor.
Make Your Bed
You may be wondering what making your bed has to do with work. Believe it or not, there is actual proof that doing this easy chore can help you to be more productive. According to Charles P. Rogers, author of The Power of Habit, making your bed is what is called a keystone habit.
Keystone habits are those routine things that you do that have a spillover effect in encouraging other good habits. According to Rogers, making your bed correlated with not just better productivity but increased happiness.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, said that developing the habit of making your bed was something that made a surprisingly big impact on many of the people she talked to while researching her book.
Since making your bed only takes about three minutes, what have you got to lose? Try it for one week and see if it helps you!
Get Ready for the Day
I know, I know. One of the touted perks of working from home is that you get to work in your pajama pants all day, but staying in your pjs or other lounge wear can have a negative impact on what you get done work-wise.
While there is no science that proves wearing a suit to sit at your desk at home will make you more productive than wearing your sweats, a study done by researchers Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University showed that the symbolic meaning of the clothes you wear does matter.
For instance, for years I worked at a college. I had work clothes, but when I came home I put on my sweats and a sweatshirt. For me, sweats symbolized time off from work. Likewise, pajamas signal to me that it is time to relax. Neither of those mindsets helps me to focus and be productive.
The same holds true for doing my hair and putting on a bit of makeup. When I get ready, even though my work outfit is usually a pair of casual pants and a sweater, that signifies to my brain that I am getting ready to work.
Not sure you buy into the idea? Try it for yourself! Determine that for one week, you will get ready and dressed for work. See for yourself if it impacts your productivity at all. I bet you’ll be surprised.
Create a Workspace
I am very fortunate in that I have an extra room that I can use as an office. However, even when I lived in a very small apartment that was bursting at the seams with a husband and a busy toddler, I had a desk I used as my work space.
When you work from home, it is really easy to be distracted. Well, it's easy for me anyway! I have a good friend who fondly tells me I am like that dog in the movie Up. You know, the one that is talking, and then right in the middle of his sentence, he would suddenly yell, “Squirrel!”
Without a designated work space, I am distracted by the dishes that need to be washed or the dust I glimpse on the television screen or that one little thing that will just take five minutes. Before you know it an hour has gone by. My article still needs to be written, and I haven’t called my source to interview them.
Even if it is just a corner, creating a work space signals to your brain that it is now time to work.
Science again comes into play. In a book written by Winifred Gallagher, The Power of Place, she explores how a specific place can influence our behavior. In her book, she shows that certain places trigger certain behaviors. For instance, when you go into the kitchen, you think about eating. Another example is when you go to your childhood home, you may inexplicably find yourself reverting to your 10-year-old self again.
Harness the power of place and let it work in your favor. Set aside a space dedicated for work. When you sit down, your mind will soon start to click into work mode. You'll be off to the races much more quickly than if you simply worked from bed or the couch.
Set Work Hours
Back in the day, our grandmothers would often designate days of the week for certain tasks. Monday would be wash day and Tuesday would be baking day and so on. It turns out they were on to something!
I don’t know about you, but working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. It is very easy for the boundaries of your home life and your work life to start to blur – to the detriment of both.
When I first started working from home, there were many times I was on the phone at 11 p.m. trying to sort out some snafu for an article. At other times, the phone would ring in the middle of the day, and I’d spend over an hour talking to a friend. Then I'd wonder how my day got away from me with very little progress toward my goals.
For the sake of your family, your work and your sanity, designating specific work hours is a must. This prevents work from oozing into your family time, and vice versa. You might think that by limiting yourself to specific hours, you will get less work done, but the opposite is true.
By designating specific hours, you signal to your brain you have a deadline. Having work hours is, in essence, like setting a timer for yourself. Your brain translates the end of the work day as a deadline, and that makes it more likely that you will work quickly and get your work done.
When you don't have work hours, it's also easy for other people to not take you seriously. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked to make the cupcakes or drive for a school trip because others don't take working from home very seriously. There is this idea that you must have endless time. If you have set work hours, it makes it much easier to say no. If you went to an actual office, nobody would think of asking you to make three dozen cupcakes at the last minute. By having a place to work at specific hours, you will naturally take your work more seriously. And let's be honest here – if you don't take your work seriously, nobody else will either!
Another benefit of having a specific time set aside to work is that, mentally, you have an off time. Without this mental boundary between time working and time off, it can create a no-win cycle where you feel like you should be doing things for your family while you are working, but when you are with your family all the things you could be doing for your business are buzzing in the back of your mind. This cycle creates a low hum of constant stress. You are never done, so you never feel off. This is how people burn out or find themselves working until 2 a.m. every night.
So, do yourself a big favor. In your designated work space, write out a sign that has your work hours on it. It will be a visual reminder that you are indeed in business!
While working for yourself can present its own set of challenges, by making your bed, getting ready for your day, creating a work space and setting work hours, you can make every day a productive day.
What do you think? Will you give any of these productivity hacks a try? Which ones have been most helpful to you as a Mompreneur?
P.S. In order to help you get in the groove, I've made a pretty printable just for Brilliant Business Moms' readers. You can get access to that HERE.
Rosanne Bowman is a recovering procrastinator. As a wordsmith, she wields her keyboard to write children's books (you can find her books, All About Cats, All About Dogs and All About Horses on Amazon under the pen name R.V. Bowman), as well as, sharing her message of God making a daily difference in our lives at DivineOrdinary.com.