I am so excited to chat with you about how you can learn how to set the tone for your work blocks, and tips for following through on your task list.
I’m going to start by helping you figure out how to set the tone for your designated work blocks. So when you actually get to work, your kids are taken care of, or they’re busy playing. You’ve already spent one-on-one time with them to fill their attention buckets. I want you to start setting the tone for your work block.
Setting the Tone for your Work Blocks
Step 1: Organize Your Space
Step number one is to start with an organized space. It’s ideal if you can clean up your space the day before or the work block before and make sure that there’s no sticky notes around. Pens, pencils and scissors are put away. If you didn’t have time to get that cleaned up the day before, go ahead and just do it right before you get started. I promise, it’s going to put you in a much more creative and productive mode during your work blocks if everything around you is tidy.
Step 2: Turn on Airplane Mode
The next step is to switch your phone to airplane mode during your work blocks. I don’t know if you guys are like me, but I get super distracted. My phone is on vibrate all day long, but even just hearing it vibrate will distract me. Is that an inquiry coming in? I wonder what they need for my photography services. When I switch my phone onto airplane mode, it blocks all incoming messages and calls and allows me to focus.
Step 3: Diffuse Essential Oils
The next tip I have for you guys here is to diffuse essential oils. Now this is one that I always seem to forget to do, but when I do it really puts me into a different mood. Some of my favorite oils to diffuse are peppermint, which is really good for motivation and lavender which is super calming. It doesn’t put me to sleep, but of course if that puts you to sleep, don’t diffuse lavender. And then I also love the smell of lemon, so I love to diffuse that as well.
Step 4: Turn on Instrumental Music
Next turn on some instrumental music. When I put on music that has words I like to sing along, and I get distracted. Especially if I’m trying to write content or I’m trying to do anything that requires brain power, which is pretty much everything that I do. I need music without words, so instrumental music is the way to go.
Step 5: Have a Healthy Snack Nearby
Also have a healthy snack within reach so that you don’t have to get up and go grab a snack when you’re feeling hungry. It also encourages healthy grazing, so having some nuts or a piece of fruit or something healthy within reach is so important.
Step 6: Get a Timer
And then finally for setting the tone, get out a timer. Now take my word for it, don’t use the timer on your phone. Because you’re going to be so tempted to take your phone off airplane mode and check and see who needed you while you were gone for the past 15 minutes or you’re going to just be tempted to do something else on your phone, so use an actual timer. I like to purchase the kitchen timers off of Amazon. They’re super cheap and easy to use. I also love that the one that I purchased has a count up timer. And so I can actually time how long tasks take me so that I can keep a record of that, and be able to easily time block tasks later down the road, because I know approximately how long it takes me.
Following Through on What You’re Supposed to Be Doing
So let’s chat through some tips for actually following through on what you’re supposed to be working on.
Tip 1: Set Start and Stop Times
Set specific start and stop times for your work blocks. The tricky part here is to actually honor them, especially when you have kids at home. You really want to be able to have these specific time blocks, and it’s so much easier for your children to honor these if they know when they end.
When my children are home, I usually have work blocks that are between one and two hours. This is dependent on how they’re doing and if they’re needing me in between that. But one to two hours is a good time before you can stop working and tend to your children for a little bit.
Tip 2: Take Frequent Breaks
Every 50 minutes or so, get up and move your body and stretch. For all those photographers that are listening right now or for anyone in general, there’s something about editing photos, where my eyes start to glaze over sort of, all the photos start to look blurry. Like I have to step away, especially when I’m doing editing, because it just gets to be too much. But I feel like the same is true with whatever you’re working on, after a while you just start to get restless. You just need to move your body, get some water, take a bathroom break, walk around your house a few times and just get your blood flowing again. I feel like it’s so easy for us when we sit at our computer to just sit there for hours on end and not even get up and move. So it’s so important to take frequent breaks.
Tip # 3: Set Timers for the Task You’re Working On
The next tip here is to actually set timers for the tasks that you’re working on. So when the timer goes off, you actually have to move on to the next task. That’s difficult sometimes, but the reason for this is so that you can keep the momentum going in your business. Because it’s so easy for us to get stuck on a task and just take forever to do it. But if we set parameters around how much time is allotted per task, we’re actually a lot more productive. So set those timers and when they go off, be sure to move on to the next task.
Tip # 4: Keep a Log
So I already mentioned this next tip, but I want to mention it again just so that it sticks in your brain- keep a log of how long certain tasks take you. So I think this is so crucial because a lot of times when we are planning out our weeks, we have a difficult time knowing how long things are going to take us. And the reason for that is because we haven’t made it a priority to actually time our tasks and see how long things actually take us. So in order to do this, you’re going to need that count up timer or a stopwatch feature and then I want you to always look for ways to be more efficient.
So if you are easily distracted, when you’re doing something, then possibly you need to close down the tabs that are open. You need to figure out how maybe you can create a template for something that you are maybe like an email that you always are writing, create a template for that. So always look for ways to be more efficient and to be more timely in whatever it is that you’re working on. I know for me, some of the things that slow me down and something that I’m dealing with right now as a photographer and a lot of you can relate to this as well is having storage space issues on my computer. And just the fact that I constantly am running out of space and storage and it’s because I haven’t, you know, created a time or a work block where I actually go through and make sure that I’m cleaning up that storage space.
And so sometimes when I’m going to work on something, you know I’m trying to download photos to my computer and my computer is full. And then all of a sudden a task that takes me one hour is now taking me three hours because I didn’t plan for cleaning out my storage space on my computer. And now I have to do that when that wasn’t really ever in my original plan.
Tip # 5: Stop Multi-tasking
My next tip here for following through is to stop multitasking, it’s just not effective. I know that there has been this badge of honor lately in our society where the more that we can multitask the better. But truly, I want you to think about how much more productive you are when you focus on one thing at a time. One thing that really helps me stay focused is to close down all the tabs on my computer. It overwhelms my brain anyways to see all of the different things that I could be working on or should be working on. So I closed down all the tabs and I only have opened the tab of what I want working on.
Tip # 6: Done is Better Than Perfect
The next tip here is more so of a mantra- done is better than perfect. So be okay with B work. This is something that I’ve struggled with for a really long time, and I used to be super perfectionistic. Until I heard Brendan Burchard say that people who call themselves perfectionists are really procrastinators. And I started to think about that, and I was like, oh my gosh! That’s so true! Obviously, I want things to be perfect, but a perfectionist is somebody who perfects something. And if you never actually put anything out in the world to be perfected, then you’re really just a procrastinator.
And that just really hit home with me, and it has been something that has been a real game changer in my business. Because I decided that B work is okay, because at least I’m putting something out in the world and then I can always perfect it later. I can always improve it later, but if it’s not done, it can never be improved. So I feel like that’s just a huge excuse that I used to use and maybe you’re using that same excuse of, oh, I’m just such a perfectionist. Like I just want everything to be perfect, well, I’m calling you out! I’m calling BS. You cannot be a perfectionist if you don’t put anything out in the world to be perfected. So be okay with B work, done is better than perfect.
Tip # 7: Consider the Cost
And now the last and final tip that I want to give you about following through, is to consider the cost and remember that whatever you don’t finish today gets bumped to another day. So it’s so important that you are realistic about what it is that you are hoping to achieve in one day or one work block. And then consider what happens if you don’t stick to the timer, if you don’t stick to that list of what you’re getting done. And I think that’s where a lot of people fall short with their follow-through is that they always think oh, well, tomorrow’s another day I can get it done tomorrow.
And while that is true, and you are your own boss and you call the shots, you don’t want that to become a perpetual habit and I think that’s what often happens. So staying true to following through is going to be so imperative and important. If you want to be more efficient in your business.
So I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful and encouraging for you to set the tone in your work block, and to make sure that you are in the best head space that you can be before you get started. And also following through with the things that you have said that you’re going to get done. Implementing these tips is going to be crucial so that you can be more productive during each of your work blocks.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, which is a continuation of this episode. I’m going to be chatting with you guys about how to handle distractions and interruptions that inevitably will happen when you sit down to work.
So until next time mama, I am here rooting for you, and you are not alone on this journey.