As a network marketer, your days often focus on networking – meeting, connecting, and marketing your program to the people you meet. Very often, that process occurs online, and that means you can pretty much work from home or anywhere you want at any time.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
The trouble with working from home (or anywhere else outside the office) is that it can come with a pretty serious productivity hit. Workplaces are officially designed for the purposes of engaging in work; when you hit up the office, it’s expected that you’ll focus and achieve goals. When work from home, you’re entirely self-directed. If you lack personal discipline or find yourself distracted by kids, cooking, cleaning, television, movies, or even just a quick 5-minute nap, your productivity slides.
For network marketers, this is an even bigger issue because most of us don’t have an office to go to even if we wanted to. We work for ourselves; ergo, our home is our office. Rather than avoiding those distractions and issues, we need to face them head-on and find strategies to eliminate or cope with them – all while managing to get our work done.
If this is an area you’ve been struggling with, know that there is a way to bridge the gap and achieve both goals: work from home and being productive. All at the same time. Here’s how the experts get it done!
Create a Schedule
It may seem counter intuitive at first (especially when most people get into networking marketing to escape schedules), but creating a work schedule is one of the most important steps you can take to stay on track. Structured routine creates habit, and in this case, that habit is following through with work rather than watching just one more Netflix episode.
The trouble with working schedule-free is that it encourages time-wasting and procrastination. You set your tasks aside to binge-watch TV or go shopping, thinking you’ll surely have time to get through it later. But later eventually comes, and then real life starts to intrude, putting you even more behind than you were in the first place.
By setting specific work times, you create the expectation of work. You also prevent yourself from feeling burned out because you had to work until midnight to accommodate your procrastination yet again. Overall, it’s just better to schedule in specific times and adjust as-needed for real life, rather than flying by the seat of your pants.
To create a schedule, review your typical day, week, or month. Set specific hours or days during which you will focus explicitly on work; unless the house is on fire or the kids are injured, set the rest aside (including housework and errands) during that time period and really focus. You’ll get more done, be further ahead, and most importantly, achieve more goals when you work from home.
Lastly, don’t lose yourself so far in scheduling that you don’t make time available for slacking off or just plain bad days. As important as it is to focus, if you overdo it or push yourself when you’re truly distracted or just feeling unwell you will burn yourself out. Schedule weekly time off and maintain enough flexibility that you can get up and walk away for a few hours. After all, there’s no sense in sitting at your desk feeling miserable if you aren’t getting anything done.
Create a Quiet Workspace
Believe it or not, it can actually be harder to find the peace and quiet you need to work from home than it is within a busy office. Kids, family members, visitors, telephone calls – all of these conspire to distract us from what we’re doing, crippling productivity and making it next to impossible to focus.
Picture this: you’re settled in at your desk. You start working, focusing on getting through outgoing emails. Then, suddenly the kids are screeching in the background, the dog is barking, your mother’s calling for the third time today. Your spouse keeps asking where to find various items. You keep having to get up to go address various issues, and each time you get up you’re away at least 10 minutes.
You can’t call clients because they’ll almost certainly hear the chaos in the background. You can’t send emails because the chaos has you so distracted you’ll almost certainly miss-word something or deliver a weak pitch.
You’re not getting anything done because you can’t focus on your work!
The second most important step you can take when you work from home is to create a quiet, closed-off workspace for yourself. Ideally, this should be an office with a door, a desk, and a comfortable chair. If you don’t have that much space, even a quiet bedroom or storage room is fine – just make sure it’s set up for productivity (yes, that means no working in bed. To encourage a more professional feel, get up each day and dress as if you were going into the office. Then go to your designated quiet workspace and remain there until your work time is over.
Eliminate At-Home Distractions
Efficient and productive work requires focus, and you can’t achieve focus unless you eliminate distractions from your workday. Most offices are set up to avoid these distractions; you aren’t supposed to take calls from friends, you may not be permitted to check your social media accounts, and snacking is usually restricted to specific times.
That isn’t the case when you work from home; instead, you’re surrounding by a never ending list of temptations and distractions. Like the fridge, your spouse, hot showers, naps, games, and pets.
So, how can you avoid all of those messy distractions when you work from home? Your first goal is to understand what distracts you and how it impacts your life. Most distractions fall into a few specific categories:
● Social media
● The Internet
To eliminate distractions from family members, set clear boundaries for your working times, including what’s a good reason to interrupt you and what’s not. For example, you may want to be interrupted if one of the kids is hurt, but you may not want to be interrupted when your little one wants to ask if the moon is really made of cheese. Likewise, you may tell your spouse to interrupt you when dinner is ready, but ask that he or she not interrupt you just to ask where their favorite workshirt is.
For housework, schedule it in, too – outside of your work times. The bathroom floor can absolutely wait until the end of the day or even the weekend; the world will not end. Ditto for the dishes. If you’re an absolute stickler for cleanliness or just can’t focus without a clean house, start your day early with an hour of cleaning and then work instead.
Distracted by the fridge? Schedule regular meals in throughout the day. Keep a few snacks by your desk to satiate you if cravings hit. A large insulated water bottle eliminates the issue of drinks, keeping you hydrated without breaking your focus.
Keep getting calls and texts? This one’s a toughie, but the answer is always the same: turn your telephone off. If you must have it on for work, get a separate phone for work altogether. Turn your personal device off during working hours and focus only on your work phone.
Finally, be cautious about imperceived distractions like television in the background or YouTube videos. Although you may think they help you focus, they can actually end up skewing your focus so you’re less productive and efficient. Most people work better with just a bit of music or white noise playing – or even complete silence instead.
Tame the Social Media and Internet Beast
For network marketers, the propensity for distraction when you work from home (or from anywhere else) is even higher. Most of us have to work with and on social media platforms every single day; that makes it way too easy to fall into bad habits like mid-day IMs with friends, YouTube video spirals, Netflix, and socialization.
More than one of us has found an entire day falling by the wayside in favor of watching YouTube videos and sharing cat memes. Unless you’re a YouTube star, that’s just not going to make you any money.
Tackling the issue of social media and the Internet as a distraction when you work from home isn’t easy. Generally speaking, it will always be a slight distraction simply because you need to access it to be an effective network marketer. To some degree, self-discipline is a must; you have to be willing to set goals to focus on work and really stick to them.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to lessen the impact. Try to schedule specific times to handle the social media portion of your business; during those times, don’t answer personal messages or interactions. Work only on your business.
Schedule breaks throughout the day to “allow” yourself to wander, socialize, and interact; five minutes every few hours is more than enough. This will give you something to look forward to without taking up too much of your day.
When you find yourself focusing on an irrelevant page during work times, close it and gently refocus yourself back on work. This will be difficult at first; like meditation, practice improves your ability to refocus. If necessary, block time-waster pages temporarily using apps like StayFocused until you have a better handle on it.
Still think you’re wasting too much time on certain sites or platforms? Try the addon Be Limitless for Chrome Browser. It tracks exactly how much time you spend on each site, giving you an instant picture of your use the second you open a new tab. It also provides encouraging motivational quotes to help you refocus on what matters.