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Monday, 6 April 2015

How to get rid of the distractions while working from home?

I have been working from home since 2006. Having worked in a corporate sector the idea of being my own boss thrilled me. Even better, working with my pyjamas on excited me.  But once I started the so called ‘working from home’ things were not looking easy.

Some relative or long lost friend would call at the time of their convenience.  Plumber, carpenter, gas guy, or somebody for that matter would come and eat up atleast half an hour of time. Moreover, that will be the time when my neighbour wants to ask ‘how are you doing’. Then the conversation can last for an hour more.

Or a relative would be visiting our city and would want to have lunch with us – it will start with a tea plus lunch plus again evening tea so on and so forth.  And when family expanded, getting quality time seemed next to impossible.

Like these, the reasons for getting away from my work were always a lot many more. And it seemed like work turned to be of the least priority –which I never wanted to be. I started thinking on how to change this, so that I can be a home maker at the same time be independent and enjoy healthy working hours as well.

In that thought process, one thing that I realised is that, time is the only thing that is shared equally between all of us – be it me ‘a work from home mom’ or my friend who is still working with infy, or the Infy founder Mr. Narayanamurthy! So if I manage my time effectively I can manage everything under the sun.  

So here goes the way I manage my work from home stuff:

How to work from home in the most professional way?

What follows below is how I started making more money from my work from home jobs just by following more discipline at work. These are the methods that worked the best for me, you can also work on this on a similar fashion to make it work better for you.

1) Time management: 

I started analysing my day – what all activities I am doing and how much time each is taking up.  I did this for around 3-4 days. This actually gave an idea of planning my day.  I got to know cooking takes up around 1 and half hours, washing takes another hour, cleaning takes another half an hour every morning.

What I also realised is that I can actually club a few of the activities to save time. For example, cooking can go hand in hand with washing (washing machine provided). Similarly calling home and talking to friends over phone can happen when I am dusting or cleaning. The power of multi tasking showed that I can devote some more good time for work then.

One more thing I realised is that I can finish off all the household stuff faster if there is no disturbance around. So I decided to wake up early and finish off all cooking before my kids and Veeran woke up. That actually ensured that I finish my cooking, starting from breakfast till lunch in one hour or one hour 15 minutes maximum. Had I not done this, something or other kept delaying cooking and I always ended up trapped in kitchen till lunch time.

Ironically, I would be doing this day in and out if I were working outside for somebody else. This in turn made me feel I should treat my work from home as good as or in fact better than working for some MNC.  I know down the line, I will be contributing a lot to the Indian economy when I become more successful entrepreneur.So I started following a daily plan like this:

This actually ensures that I finish up my work in allotted time itself and very rarely extending for half an hour, but definitely not beyond that.

2)      Plan my day everyday

Did you notice that I do some ‘plan my day’ in the early fresh morning hours? This is all regarding the work that I will do in my ‘working hours’.  This helps me to stick to my work schedule. This also helps me not forget the work that I intend to complete that day.

I use a notebook and a ball point pen to jot it down. And whenever I am done with a particular job, I tick it as done. This gives me a sense of satisfaction. And the urge to tick everything helps me focus on my tasks and finish them by end of day.

I ensure that the tasks are cut down in to small ones so that it is easy to do as well as the pleasure of completing it pumps me up. For example, if I think of updating my blog with an article, first I decide on the subject from the list I already made. So the first day my job list will look a bit like this:

Day 1:

  1. Finalise the next topic
  2. Do research on the web, note down good references
  3. Create a skeleton of the article

The next day my plan would be like:

Day 2:

  1. Write the intro and rearrange the skeleton of the article to give it a better flow
  2. Expand the article with the re ferred content
  3. Be ready with the draft

And the third day I would be doing this:

Day 3:

  1. Edit the draft
  2. Do styling
  3. Add images
  4. Upload it

So every single job makes me feel I have done something today. This indeed makes me feel good.

This example just covered updating my blog, but I am into some other ventures as well. So I do this sort of planning for all of them. This is something that helps me to have a healthy discipline at work.

3)      Review the day every night before I go to sleep

I review my day by looking at my ticked daily plan. I go to bed feeling happy that I have done so much today. Sometimes, some work get carry forwarded to next day and the review helps me to put that first in the next day’s plan.

Rarely, I end up choosing some wrong job, for example, an article which needs more research and cannot be done in 3 days. This review helps me to switch that job with something better so that I have some output at the end of the day.

4)      Do planning with household works as well

I usually check the veggies in the vegetable tray and mentally decide on what is the menu for next day. This indeed saves a lot of my time with cooking. When I know what to cook, cooking become easier and faster.  And food turns tastier too.

I also keep ready the dress to be worn next day. This I do for everyone in the family. This helps me save a good amount of time. By ensuring that all school stuff is ready the previous night, there is no hurry-burry in the morning while getting my son ready for school.

Similarly, I keep laundry stuff together the previous night so that I can give it to Dhobi when he appears in the morning. Earlier, I used to look out for more apparel when I see him. By keeping it all ready the previous day, a big headache is over, and gives me some extra time.

5)      Announce everyone that I am working from home and busy

I am still working on improving the habit of saying ‘NO’ when required. When somebody calls me even if I am in the middle of work I used to feel that I should attend the call because they might have something important to share. Or some emotional stuff like, ‘see she thought of me now and so I should speak to her’ and so and so.

But now I don’t entertain such ‘hello, how are you’ calls when I am at work.  I reply with a text saying: ‘I am busy right now, is there anything urgent? If not, I will call you at so and so time’. And I do call back at that time. They have started respecting me even more these days.

I started announcing all relatives and friends that I am working seriously from home. So they also don’t call me that frequently during my quality time nowadays.  No distraction means better focus at work and able to finish it fast.

I have told my friends also that I am busy at these times most of the day. You guys go ahead with shopping plans; I will join you guys some other day.

6)      Keep heavy shopping for weekends

I know it is fun to do shopping together with friends. But since I am serious about my work, I kind of restrict myself from that daily. I usually keep heavy shopping for weekends. I do the household shopping monthly so the major shopping list is over in one go. I do keep my weekends a bit light as I value spending time with my family. I make a special dish on weekends, go out for movie, or generally hang out to have fun.

7)      Hire an expert rather than learning it from scratch

Earlier I had a feeling that I should do everything- cooking, cleaning etc. I assumed that this will keep me fit and house will be super clean. But very often it ended up the other way. Fact is that, I don’t enjoy doing the household cleaning and stuff as much as I enjoy my work. So if I do everything one day, the next day I feel lazy and things start piling up. This in turn becomes a monstrous task the third day!

I know I am not an expert in many of the household stuff. So I delegate a major chunk of such jobs to an expert.  Keep a maid, I know it is a big nuisance waiting for them, but you are helping them earn their livelihood as well. Similarly, I hire people to clean ACs, chimneys, cleaning fans etc. I believe that I will enjoy ‘Do It Yourself’ stuff like this when I have lot more free time. Say once my company starts clocking a billion in revenue!

So these are the things that I do to make the best out of me. Do try something similar to chalk out more quality time for your work from home jobs. This is no rocket science, but adding a bit more of discipline to the lives.

When I started with my family life, I often wished to have 10 hands like Goddess Durga. But that is never possible, because I am a human. Over the years, after working on managing my day efficiently, I get the same result as having those 8 extra hands! This works big time. Start doing this if you plan to make it BIG in your life!