Hi again, I’m Nicole Dean, and I’ll be guest blogging here all week about “Productivity when Working from Home” as part of my Summer Blog World Tour. If you missed yesterday’s post, it was all about valuing and protecting the time that you spend working so that you aren’t working ALL the time.
I know that, when you are working from home and you have kids at home, you’re constantly conflicted. On one hand, you feel like you’re never able to get onto the computer to work. On the other hand, you feel like you’re on the computer all the time.
Some days, I would just sit and cry from frustration. I’d feel like I was letting everyone down in my life. I was letting my kids down by being crabby and not spending enough time with them. Letting my husband down by not making enough money and for not spending enough time with him. And, I was letting myself down for not making enough money, not being a good enough wife and mother, and not taking the time I needed to exercise. Bleck. So, I can certainly relate. We ALL face that feeling at some time or another.
One of the items that saved my sanity was a simple $7 tool. It has been invaluable in my business and has made me more money than any other investment that I’ve made.
Would you like to know what it is?
A simple Kitchen Timer.
For instance, right now, I’ve given myself 15 minutes to write as much as I can during that time. When the timer goes off, I will take a break and check on things around the house.
Now, you may think “Sure, Nicole. That may work for you. Your kids are 7 and 12. They’re older and can be left unsupervised for longer periods of time.”
True. It’s true. However, the timer is as much for me as it is for them. Here are a few reasons why it works to make me more productive.
It provides an Urgency.
I don’t know about you, but I can dilly-dally on my computer all day long and not get a thing done. I can take my time… write a bit and then think… and then write some more. Doo dee doo. You know the feeling? Well, when I know the timer is counting down and I’ve got to leave my desk no matter what I’m doing, when it starts beeping, all of a sudden I work a heck of a lot faster — and get a heck of a lot more done!
It keeps me Accountable.
I can’t wander off from this blog post. If I headed over to Twitter and the timer went off, I’d be busted. I have to stay on track because I have allotted time for guest blogging and I don’t want it to take 3 hours. I want it to take 15 minutes tops.
When I was in High School and College, I noticed that I’d always finish a project the night before it was due. It wouldn’t matter if the teacher gave me 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months to do it. I’d always finish the night before. And, not too long ago, I realized that I was the same way in my business. If I give myself 3 hours to write this blog post… that’s exactly how long it will take me. If I give myself 15 minutes… that’s exactly how long it’ll take me.
Now that’s not to say that I’ll do shoddy work. This is just a tool. Nothing more. If I get done with my writing after the timer beeps and this article is junk, then I’ll have to take another stab at it. And, of course, I’ll spend some time going over it again to make sure I covered everything that I wanted to.
The point is that I’ll be much further ahead in 15 minutes with a timer clicking down than I would just sitting down and thinking “ok, time to write a blog post”. It forces me to focus for 15 minutes. How else do you think I could guest blog for an entire summer without going totally insane?
It’s about me valuing my own time as much as others valuing it, too. Yes, I tell the kids “I’ll be writing for X minutes. If there’s an emergency, come and get me. Otherwise, I’ll be all yours when the timer goes off and we’ll (insert thing here whatever it may be).” I get a lot more focused work time out of my day when the kids understand the rules.
And, my kids and my hubby love the timer, too.
They see an actual number rather than hearing me say “I just need a few more minutes” – and then coming out of my office an hour later. In fact, I keep several timers in the house. When the kids were younger, they’d keep one to count me down, too. I would keep one by my desk and they’d take one with them to their rooms. They could watch the timer count down while they colored or played, knowing that I’d be all theirs when it got to zero.
It teaches them time management.
They are learning time management, too. When my daughter was five, I asked her to clean her room. She said “Can I please use a timer?” She got it already at that age. My 12 year old homeschools with me. He uses a timer a lot. It saves both of us from frustration and the feeling of “open-ended” assignments that never end. If I told him to read for “awhile” he’d become frustrated. If I tell him to read for “2 hours” — he’ll buckle down and start reading. It’s how he ticks. (Pun intended.)
They feel important.
My kids ask me to set a timer if I’m not using one, even when hubby is home and is watching them. They’ll come into my office and say “We want to go swimming. Please set a timer and then watch us?” I’ll set it for a certain number of minutes, work my bottom off, and then head outside to watch them in the pool.
If you don’t have a timer – or the kids ran off with yours, here’s an online version that I use. http://www.online-stopwatch.com/eggtimer-countdown/full-screen/ There are many others. Just search Google(tm) if you don’t like that one. Some you can choose the sound that plays when time is up. I just like the look of this one and the ringer isn’t obnoxious so it works.
Jimmy D. Brown – remember him? I mentioned him yesterday as being my mentor. Well, he recommends scheduling your day with exactly 45 minutes of focused time, alternating with 15 minutes of rest and going through that cycle 3 times per day. Yes, he’s built a huge business working only 3 hours per day max.
In fact, if you have $15 to spend, I highly recommend this course that he’s put together all about working from home. It’s one of my favorite reports that he’s written and I’ve read them all.
If you’re enjoying these tips, you’ll love his Homepreneur guide. He doesn’t share tips about working with kids underfoot, but he feels as I do that any time spent in front of your computer should be productive so that you have time left in the day to live your life as it was meant to be lived – taking care of yourself and spending time with those that you love.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more tips.
Nicole Dean – Summer Blog World Tour