Working from home may seem like the perfect situation—you get to make your own schedule, pants are optional and you are so much more productive! (Yeah, right!) There are just as many distractions at home as in an office, they’re just different kinds of distractions. Instead of people barging into your office asking if you have a minute to talk, it’s your spouse walking in just to talk, your daughter flipping out over the text her BFF sent or your son needing you to make him food because he’s literally starving! See, emergencies aren’t just for the office!
The secret to getting more done when you work from home lies in setting healthy boundaries, clear expectations and a schedule that works for you and your family.
Imagine if, by the end of the day, as you glanced at your list of “important tasks to get done” you realized that you are ahead of schedule! And ending the day with the mental headspace to be totally present with your family, because there is nothing lingering in your office that is stressing you out.
The easiest way I’ve found to do this is with Power Hour Sessions, Power Hour Sessions are 60-minute time blocks of hyper-focused time where no one is allowed to interrupt me, with pockets of time after each session where I am available for whatever my family needs.
You may find it easier to start out with one block of time every day that you hold sacred (applying the tips below to train your family to respect them). Then, add additional power hour sessions as needed.
Most of my clients, who implement this strategy, find that these are so effective, that only 2-3 sessions per day is all they need to get a full day’s work done and move effectively toward their goals even while their family is in full chaos mode in the other room!
Protecting Your Power Hour by Setting Healthy Time Boundaries
The biggest barrier to Power Hour Sessions is having family members that don’t respect them.. If you are in the habit of being available to your family all day long, they have been trained to “expect” you to be at their beck and call.
Because those expectations are already in place, you might have to put in a little up front effort to create—and enforce—boundaries around your sacred power hours. In time, thought, your family members will learn to respect your power hour time and may even adopt a similar practice themselves—especially when they see how beneficial it is!
Or, if you have littles at home, you could encourage them to create a Power Hour habit of their own, where they spend some time working on activities they enjoy and can do on their own, while you work in your office.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
― Stephen R. Covey
Tips for scheduling a daily power hour with healthy boundaries in place to protect it:
- Aim for the same times everyday, if possible, that way your family knows when to expect you to be unavailable to them.
- Choose a time of day that works best for your family, your energy type, and will be easy to stick with. For instance, you may choose to block off an hour from 9-10am each morning because it’s when you have the most mental energy, and again from 2-3pm because that’s when your spouse is home and can tend to the kids .
- Give a heads up. Let your family members know that you are “not home” during these times., which means you won’t be available to answer questions, settle arguments, make sandwiches or talk to them at all. This is going to take some practice and commitment on your part to “train them” but with a little effort up front, it will pay off big time in the long run! Here are some tips to protect your power hour in a gentle, firm and healthy way:
- Put a note on your office door that says, “Do Not Disturb” or a piece of paper cut into the shape of a red stop sign to signal that this is your power hour time. (Just rememer to remove it when your power hour is over).
- Eliminate distractions. Turn your cellphone off or put it in airplane mode and let calls go to voicemail. Close down your email program. Basically, if it dings or flashes, turn it off! These can be just as distracting as family members barging into the room.
- Turn people away. If someone does barge into your office, ask, “Is this an emergency? Can this wait until 10am?” If the answer is yes (it can wait) then let the person know you’ll follow up at 10 when you’ve wrapped up what you’re working on. This may take a few attempts, but with repetition, you’ll start to train people to respect your Power Hour!
- Be a Human Answering Machine. If you’ve tried the above and somehow everything seems like an emergency, try this: whenever someone comes into your office and needs something, just say, “I’m sorry, the person you are looking for is not available right now. Please come back later.” It sounds silly, but after hearing this “recording” a few times, they’ll get tired of it and stop trying.
- Show your appreciation by thanking your family for honoring your time and sharing with them what you accomplished and how it benefits the team as a whole.
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It’s not an overly complicated idea, but implementing it (and sticking with it) can be a bit tricky. If a power hour gets hijacked here or there, it’s understandable. Don’t give up on the idea! Instead, just assess the cause and what you can do in the future to prevent it from happening again (to the best of your ability) and keep reinforcing those boundaries! In time, everyone will get on board, it will get easier, and you’ll start to reap the benefits of focused productivity and gratifying success!
Love you to pieces,