Hello, my name is Miki and I’m a procrastinator and I suffer from shiny-object syndrome. (“Hi, Miki.”)

With COVID-19 putting so many things on hold and our lives seeming like the furthest thing from normal, work can feel like a foreign task. But whether you rely on clients coming into your place of business or you can still operate from your home, there’s always work to be done.

I personally operate better with people around me. Maybe you get your motivation from the people coming in for your services. Yet I, probably like you, am currently stuck at home where the fridge is constantly calling my name and the latest Netflix craze is never more than a Chrome tab away.

So how did I get the motivation to sit here and write this article? Here are some of the techniques I’ve found over the last couple of months that have not only kept the boss happy but kept me from feeling unproductive and, therefore, like I’ve been wasting months of my life.

Make lists

Crucial. When you’re in the middle of the hustle and bustle of normal work life, it’s easy to remember what needs to get done, and it’s very obvious when those things don’t get done. When you’re at home, though, it’s not as apparent what needs to happen. And, with all the distractions, it’s easy to fall victim to shiny-object syndrome. 

Does Marie-Kondo-ing your closet to make way for all the online shopping orders that are hitting your doorstep sound fun right now? Sure, but you want your business to continue operating, right? Let’s put in at least a little work before we get to that shiny-object task. Here are my tried-and-true tips for making to-do lists…in list form:

  • Add some tasks that you would do if your business were operating like normal. This might include keeping up with your finances, filing your taxes, cleaning your place of business on the regular (let’s not come back to cobwebs!), posting to social media, following up on any emails or phone calls, etc.
  • Remember those dream tasks that always seem to be on the back burner? Most likely, you actually have some time for those now. That could include revamping your website or brand, updating your place of business, learning some new skills for your service offerings, or reimagining your customer experience (offering beverages to clients, creating loyalty programs, etc.).
  • Throw some small things on your lists, too, because we alllll love crossing off to-dos. Make your tasks actually accomplishable in a small period of time, which means you may have to break up your tasks into smaller ones.
  • Use a planner. Assign your tasks to different days, e.g. every Tuesday I need to email my clients with an update, every Monday/Wednesday I need to ship out product orders, and this week on Thursday I’m going to tackle that new project. Note:You can even use your Schedulicity account to do this by blocking out personal time and writing the tasks in the description. 

Be flexible with your time

Right now, your standard work schedule might not, well, work. Let me be clear: I don’t want you to work all the time at all hours. That is NOT what this article is about. But there are so many perks of being stuck at home (even if it feels like it’s been forever since you’ve been anywhere else). You get to tackle projects around your house, spend time with your live-in loved ones, and you get to take time to actually relax.

But when you still have work to do, you just need to be smart about enjoying the aforementioned, while keeping your business going, too. Here’s how I’ve managed to “do it all”:

  • First off, I haven’t actually done it all. I’m human, so many days have been “Holy crap, did you see how much I got done today? I’m on fire!” days, and others have been “I ate chicken nuggets for two meals today and watched 15 episodes of Westworld” days. My key here: grace. Try to accomplish what’s on your to-do list, but if you can’t some days, give yourself grace that you’re doing the best that you can in a weird time. No one’s perfect at this.
  • Don’t plan too much “work”. Start with a small to-do list of the things you absolutely need to get done that day, and do more only after you’ve finished that list.
  • Plan for “not work” time. If you’re someone who can sit down and do four straight hours of work without moving from your desk, teach me your tricks. If you’re more like me, plan for smaller chunks of work time, knowing that you can only leave your phone sitting face down for so long and that getting breaks in every so often is necessary. When I sit at my computer longer than two hours, my productivity tanks, but if I break up my work times, every time I sit down again at my computer, I’ve refueled my motivation.
  • If you need extra motivation, reward yourself for getting your tasks done every day. Once you’ve crossed off your to-do list, you get ice cream or a Facetime with your bestie or, my favorite, a nap.

Communicate!

Yes, this counts as work. It may seem obvious, but trust me, it isn’t always.

With your staff:

I watched my best friend struggle for two months while she wasn’t sure if she was going to have a job again after the cosmetic clinic where she works temporarily closed. She had sleepless nights and panic attacks because her boss wasn’t communicating with her at all after she’d texted that they had to stop seeing clients. 

Don’t be like that boss. Talk to your staff. Be open and honest about your expectations, what your plan is, what you hear from the government, etc. Spread some peace of mind around. Let them know there’s an open door of communication for anything they need to talk about, too.

Or maybe you need them to be doing more, too? Make sure you clearly communicate what you need and what you expect. Check in regularly and help them with their own productivity.

With your clients: 

Just because your clients can’t see you doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you. Keep them informed of everything — if you’re close to when you’re opening back up, your new cleaning protocols to your expectations of them during visits (e.g. wear a mask), and whether they can still reap the benefits of your services in the form of online appointments/classes or products. Our Head of Content, Kit, has some amazing tips on how to talk to your clients (webinar and article).

Get creative

You know yourself better than anyone. 

If you need to have a special place in your house that is designated as a workspace because you can’t get anything done with a TV nearby, do it. 

If you need to shower and get made up for the day before you can be productive, wake up early and get to it.

If you want to focus your time on your family, do what it takes to keep your business running, but then spend time with them!

Does deep house music keep you focused? Blast that during your work time.

This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. You’re not supposed to know how to be perfect right now. But follow these tips and I bet you’ll up your at-home production. If I can do it, believe me, you can do it.