Generally speaking artists are a funny bunch, at times working all hours to get things finished but on the other hand putting off today what can be put of tomorrow. Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule, perhaps you are an artist who keeps lists and completes them? How nice that would be for those who don’t seem to be able to keep their mind on things for more than a matter of minutes.
For many when you combine the heart of an artist and working from home it can mean you leave many things left undone and miss deadlines. If you run your business like this for any time and you could end up jeopardizing projects, clients, and even your entire business.
So here are a few ideas for helping to avoid this.
Stop Saying ‘Yes’ As Much
If you are a ‘yes’ person then you are making a rod for your own back. Learn to say no to things that you don’t have either the skill or time to do, then you will have the time and energy to do othe things you are good at better. Sometimes we put things off because we don’t want to face them, it may be a fear of doing them wrong or not having the time to do them as well as we could, if this is the case then it may be better simply not even entertaining them in the first place. You’ll get more respect from clients by letting them know that sometimes you are not the best person for the job, no one wants to turn down work but taking on work that has the potential to harm your reputation long term is not a good strategy.
Have A Pre Determined Work Space
One of the perils of working from home is that there are no boundaries, this might apply to mental and time based boundaries but it also applies to physical ones too. I have a space in my house that is my office, it helps me turn my work on and off, when I walk in then I’m working, when I walk out I’m not. Working on the kitchen table with the TV going in the background is not the best way to stay focussed. However, if you do not have the space for a dedicated room, then have a dedicated space in a room, one where you can shut the door and get down to work.
Forget Lists You Are Likely To Ignore Them
I’ve read every book there is on time management, half way through in most cases. I’ve spent a lot of money on desktop and phone apps to make me more productive. None of them have worked. I envy people who keep task lists and complete them, but they just never work for me. Then one day Simon Sherbourne from Avid made a comment about InBox Zero, a philosophy developed by a guy called Merlin Mann which uses your email inbox to help handle all your tasks. Now my email inbox is my task list, anything in there is something I have to do. I have a number of ways I can deal with each email; do, defer, delegate or delete, they should be fairly self explanatory. The aim of my life is to have an inbox with zero in it. I thought the idea was nuts but I have say it has changed my life, I’ve gone from having an inbox with around 400 emails in it to an average of around 10, sometimes zero on a good day, and before you flip out I archive everything for future reference.
Turn Off Alerts
It doesn’t take much to distract the average creative; text message alerts, email pings, social media boings - all of these are ways to take you away from what you are doing. Don’t leave social apps open, turn off your sounds on your phone and make sure you email isn’t on and constantly checking for mail. Check you email 3 times a day, in the morning, lunch and evening.
Set Reward Driven Targets
One thing I often do is to say to myself that I can’t make a coffee or lunch until I’ve finished part of all of the project. It may sound silly but it really does work for me, try it and see if it works for you. I also reward myself at the end of a project with things like a pub lunch or an afternoon off, this gives me the real benefit of working from home without the downside of making it my normal practise, that’s just asking for trouble.
It is possible to work from home, stay focussed and get things done, but it takes some well considered strategies.
These are a few things that has helped this butterfly brain (oooh look a monkey!) from paving the road to hell with good intentions, what has helped you?