You don’t need me to tell you that working from home is hard. Sure, wearing pajama pants while on a Zoom call with your boss felt rebellious and fun at first, but now… while you try to schedule a day that feels like a fuzzy swirl of video meetings, shared Google docs, dog walks, and oh yeah, is it my day to homeschool the kids?? We may be missing those four walls of our office more than ever.
Let me be clear. I’m right there with you. My living room has gone from my sacred 9-3 solo space to a shared homeschool-yoga studio-law firm-business office that often feels more like a schizophrenic Grand Central Station than a productive working environment.
But… there are things we can do to make this better, people. That’s why I’m excited to share 4 ways we can stay organized and calm while working from home. (And hey, if you’d rather hear me talk about these instead of write about them, you can give a listen to my most recent interview on WVXU where we talked about exactly this!)
Way #1: Eat the Frog
I’m not really sure where this phrase came from. I mean, really, does ANYONE want to eat a frog? It just sounds gross. But the principle applies… whatever big (and perhaps a bit onerous) thing you want to do in the day, do it first.
I put writing first in my day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing (hence this blog!), but if I put it off, I’m likely to procrastinate on it and then everything backs up against it. My writing is what drives my business, so if writing isn’t happening, nothing else is happening.
With my kids’ homeschooling, we put math first on their schedule. Because for our kids, math requires the most concentration and is the thing they’ll avoid doing if we let them. They’ll read or write for pleasure, but none of my kids will sit down and voluntarily pick up some flash cards.
So what about you? What’s your frog? How could you “eat it” ie move it to the front of your schedule?
Way #2: Create a Schedule-ish
Ah, schedules! Just the word makes many of us feel a secret shame. We all have one (even if it’s just in our minds) and yet we all feel like we’re not doing a very good job of keeping track of it. (I’m including myself here.)
But here’s what I’ve learned after working for myself for 5 years… if you want to get anything done, you have to set some type of schedule-ish for yourself. It doesn’t have to be rigid. In fact, it shouldn’t be. But it needs some structure that shows the priorities and allows wiggle room for all those little interruptions that will sneak into your day.
I schedule every day using a system I invented called the Red Pen and Pencil Trick. It’s about the easiest, most low-tech system in the world and you can click here to learn more about it. I’ve had everyone from grad students to lawyers tell me they’ve used this system to to help them manage their days, and I had not paid these people to say that, so I’ll assume they’re telling the truth and that it works for people besides me.
But realize that there are lots of ways to make a schedule for yourself. Try a few and see what works. Any type of schedule–even a few bullet points on a sticky note–is better than just rushing into your day and letting what happens happen. (Which, as we all know, results in staying in those pajama pants and eating cereal for dinner… been there, my friend!)
Way #3: Declutter Something
Ah, you KNEW I was going to say this one, weren’t you? The magical thing about decluttering is that it’s a tangible way to create that intangible sense of peace, calm, and order we all crave. Plenty of studies have shown that when we create external order, we feel internal calm. And it doesn’t matter how you do it. Whether you declutter your medicine cabinet or your pantry or your kids’ drawers or your email inbox. Clearing out the excess unnecessary stuff and focusing just on what matters will make you feel better, every single time.
Way #4: Give Yourself Grace
I saved the best for last. This is perhaps the important one and it doesn’t require you to schedule or declutter anything. Just give yourself grace. You’re a good person. You’re trying hard. (Heck, you’re reading this blog so that means you MUST care about improving yourself in some way!) And life is not perfect. So there are days that are just going to look like more of a crap-show than others. That’s life. And we can get all uptight about that and beat ourselves up and consider ourselves failures. Or… we can take a deep breath, smile, give ourselves an internal hug and acknowledge that we’re trying our best. Be your own mom or best friend or that really nice teacher you had and tell yourself it’s all going to be okay. Because it is.
To your most organized and calm you,
PS Ready to simplify your life but not sure how to get started? Grab my FREE simplicity starter guide and let’s get going!