In a working from home environment, you have a lot on your plate. There is your work to complete as well as anything you have to have done for your home and family. Your to-do list can be very overwhelming.
Many people fail at working from home because of the sheer volume that is on their plate. In an office job away from the house, the entire focus is on the job at hand. At home, the focus can be many places at once. It is made doubly hard when people know you work from home as they view you having a ton of time on your hands to help them with projects or just be available when they call on you. You just can’t win.
How can you be successful with the cards stacked against you? The key is to set goals.
Purpose of Goals
Goals help to motivate you. Without them, there is nothing to strive for. Yes, I need to get the laundry done. If I just say that, then it might take me a month to do so because there is goal as to when. But if I set a goal of having all the laundry done by supper, then I know I have to work harder and smarter to get there. I have something to accomplish in a given time period. Now I used a simple housework example, but it can easily apply to your work environment at home. You need to get a report done. Set a deadline for yourself. Do you need to get an article written? Set a time to have so many words put down. By doing this, you can see yourself getting the work done.
Goals help you see progress. They help you get there and feel a sense of achievement. Goals are crucial in getting the job done.
Make Them Realistic
Most people are great at setting goals. Those goals tend to be huge and dramatic. They more than likely are unachievable. Why? Because we yearn to be Superworker!
First off, we like to list every single thing we have to do. That might not be such a bad idea. After all, if you get it all written down, you can prioritize and make sure you don’t forget. But you need to stop there.
That list of twenty things you have to do shouldn’t be looked at as the items you have to get done today. That would be ludicrous! Look at the items. I bet you that a few of them would take days if not weeks to complete. Realistically you cannot make that a huge part of your to-do list.
Take that list and sort it based on what is most important. Any time you have demands on your time, prioritize them. Otherwise, you could find yourself between a rock and a hard place with the only choice being to declare defeat at working from home. We don’t want that.
There are many ways to prioritize. I like one that sorts my projects in four categories: “Gun to My Head”, “Really Need to Do”, Would Love to Do”, and “Would Be Nice to Get Done.” Yes, they are a little wordy, but you get the point quite easily as to what goes into each column.
The “Gun to My Head” category is for anything that is time sensitive or if not done would get you in a world of trouble. Things that fall into that category are deadlines, paying bills, meeting promises that could have a huge impact. Not doing these will have disastrous effects.
The “Really Need to Do” are things that are extremely important, but the effects of not doing them would not be felt to much or too quickly. These are also items that can easily move into the “Gun to My Head” column at any time as their urgency increases.
The “Would Love to Do” items are the things that are bugging you not getting done but not doing them will not stop your world and end it. It could be getting a jump start on the next day’s work or getting the dishes done. Again, these could easily move up to a more urgent column depending on the need at the moment. Dishes not done now might be fine but right before dinner becomes very important.
The “Would Be Nice to Get Done” are all those things that if never done will not disrupt the universe but you always have in the back of your mind the desire to complete. It could as simple as changing the color scheme on your webpage. You really would like to get it done, but it can always wait a few days or a few weeks.
When you set your goals and your have them prioritized, you have to keep in mind that they need to be flexible. This is a must to save your sanity. Trust me. Been there and done that.
Have you heard of Murphy’s Law? In my opinion, it is stronger than the force of gravity. You might think you have your day laid out perfectly, but let me tell you when Murphy gets involved you’ll feel like your entire day is in a chaotic uproar. A tornado going through your workspace might feel calm in comparison.
You have to be flexible or you’ll go crazy. You have down that you have to get a project done today. The deadline is at five o’clock. You’re on your way to completing it when another client contacts you to say they have issues with the info you sent them and their deadline is at four o’clock. You look at your watch to see that it is only one. Murphy has arrived.
You can’t continue as you were. You have to now be flexible. Do you have time to work on the new issue and still complete your other project on time? If so, do that. It wasn’t on your to-do list, but it just wrote itself into the “Gun to My Head” column. Your priorities just changed.
This is something you don’t have to do, but I do suggest you give it a try to see if works for you. When you have your to-do list laid out and prioritized, set specific goals. For example, “Have project A done by nine.” Granted it doesn’t have to be done by then, but if I could get it done by nine I’d feel pretty good about it. Next, “Project B done by 11:30”. If these are rather large projects, I’d have them both done by lunch. Wouldn’t that be great?
These goals should also be flexible. Use them to keep you on track.
Some people can follow their to-do list and not have a problem with it. Then there are people like me that can only see the next thing on the list and am already worrying about that. A good idea if you are one of those people is to set rewards for yourself.
For me, after each task I get to do something special. It might be to go for a walk, have a snack, read a chapter in a book, or watch a segment of a TV show. It might even be to play a game on my computer. You need to make it something you can look forward to. It is, after all, a reward for getting the job done.
Get the Job Done
To get the job done, you have to set goals. They keep you on target and show you the accomplishments you have achieved. They help keep morale up and creates a productive environment.