At Home, With No Work To Do: What Do I Do Now?

Today's post was written by Taylor Ellwood. With nearly 16 years of communication training, writing, personal and spiritual transformation work, and an insatiable curiosity about life and people, Taylor believes that life is best lived when you are in touch with your passion, beliefs, and imagination. As a Whole Person Design Coach, Taylor creatively employs insightful intuition, conscious awareness, intentional action, and open, direct honesty to ignite the passion of his clients so that they can achieve their goals, let go of limiting beliefs, dissolve perceived obstacles, and empower themselves to be who they really want to be. To learn more, visit http://www.imagineyourreality.com.


Last Friday, I finished my latest tech writing assignment. I'm currently in-between contracts and having just finished certification for life coaching, it's the perfect time to launch my business off the ground. I'd already begun doing some of the work, but having more time at home provides a good opportunity to do research and get materials put together. My biggest challenge is providing myself a routine or plans to keep myself focused and on task each day.

That's perhaps ironic, because as a life coach, one of the services I provide to my clients is helping them develop a plan of action and holding them accountable to it. You might think that if I can do that for other people, it would be just as easy to do that for myself. However, being at home provides a challenge in terms of distraction. I can sleep in, I can play video games, go for a walk, or read the latest fiction book I've had my eye on. All of these distractions are available, and it can be very hard to say no to them. After all, when you're suddenly not working, you no longer have a set routine. As much as some of us may dislike working, it does provide us a structure with eight hours already blocked out to do work. When you no longer are in a work environment, those eight hours of free time now seem like a lot of time, even though it really isn't.

So what do you do in a situation where suddenly you have lots of free time and no work routine to follow? Create your own routine or plan of action. In my case that involves blocking out specific amounts of time for specific tasks on my planner.

At the beginning of the day, right after I finish my morning stretches and meditation exercises, I open my planner up to the current day and start blocking time out for specific tasks. For instance, today I blocked out the time from 11 AM to noon to job hunt, noon to 12:30 to run errands, 12:30 to 1 PM to eat lunch and play a game. I then spent 1 PM to 4 PM working on life coaching materials; and at 4 PM, I took a break for a walk around my neighborhood before going back to work. From 4:30 PM to 7 PM I continued working on life coaching materials. From 7 PM to 8 PM I ate dinner and cleaned dishes and from 8 PM to 11:30 PM I worked on layout for a book. Finally, I block the last hour and a half of my waking day for playing more video games.

Your own routine will vary. You could, for instance, spend time learning new software, getting home repairs done, or getting exercise. What's important however is that you create a routine for yourself and stick with it. By creating that routine you'll provide yourself stability each day, and also focus for what you want to do while you're not at work. The stability is especially important, because if, like me, you do contract work, you can sometimes find yourself facing periods of unemployment. By providing yourself a routine, you can keep your morale up and stay focused on not only job hunting, but also making the most of the time off that you do have.

Write your schedule down. You planner can help you stick to this schedule because it provides, not only a written record of what you need to be doing, but it also holds you accountable to that schedule. Keep it by your side, somewhere where you'll see it. By looking at it and seeing the time that you've blocked off to do specific tasks, you'll be more motivated to stick to your routine, because the planner reminds you of what you want to do. It also provides a sense of the time you want to put toward each task.

And there's nothing as satisfying as checking off what you have accomplished at the end of the day, while realizing that you kept yourself on schedule.

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Huh..you spent 30 minutes

Huh..you spent 30 minutes for lunch AND a video game...;-) But while I agree, that a plan is good to give you structure I gave up such tight plans long time ago. I found out that they normaly don't work for me. Somebody calls you, the Internet doesn't work, The dog eats your important document... :-) I could go on... I actually found out that organizing such things into projects and "to do's" much more flexible. I prefer David Allens method, but other will sure work too. I know, you say that one never comes to do anything because the to dos have no specific time and so you will procrastinate... that's right. Whenever I have this problem I use Rita Emmet's "kitchen timer" trick: Get a timer an let it countdown 60 minutes. In this 60 minutes work on your todos and ONLY on them. Nothing else ! When the 60 minutes are over you're allowed to do what you want. Works great for me, because normally after 60 minutes I am so deep into something, that I won't stop anyway. The trick is, that it brings you into working...and for the beginner it also works with 15 or 30 minutes ... :-)

cheers from Germany
Christian

Multi-tasking is fun :)

I like to multi-task, so I ate lunch and played a game.

I do like the kitchen timer idea. I've actually suggested that for clients who prefer that kind of structure to the day.

In peace profound,

Taylor

Imagine Your Reality Whole Person Design Life Coach
http://www.imagineyourreality.com
Contact me for a half hour consultation that could change your life!

Wait Until You Retire

For me, to be unanswerable to anyone was my goal in life. OK, and not starve. I achieved it and then what? A bit of a schedule gives my life some structure I need. Otherwise I sit, drink coffee and stare out the window at the eagles and deer. Somedays that's what I do and I love it, but a list, even with a time schedule gives me focus and drive. To get a series of tasks accomplished, I'll use my version of the kitchen timer. I have my cheap digital watch set for a countdown time of 45 minutes. I set it and hurry off to do necessary but boring (compared to the wildlife and coffee) projects. The other 15 minutes of the hour I give for a break of reading, internet, something enjoyable. But oh, how I look forward to a day with nothing planned!

Life Coaching Business

Thanks for being so honest about your situation. Many of us who do freelance work can sympathize. You and other freelancers might enjoy checking out www.davidseah.com and his Printable CEO. His Concrete Goals Tracker might be helpful to you, though he admits that his original set of guidelines for what would move his business forward lacked an item focusing on actually managing his business (the process end of things). Some of his stuff is a little overkill, but much is quite good and even fun. Even if you don't use his forms, I recommend reading the site for the good info.

I noticed you spent 1 hour looking for a job, and 5.5 hours working on life coaching "materials". I realize creating materials is necessary (that comes under what I call "Office Management"), but when do you fit in Marketing/Publicizing your life coaching business, and Relationship Building with potential and new clients? (Or were those some of the materials you were creating?)

Job hunting should usually be treated as a job - as in spending more than 1 hour/day on it. How important is the job hunt to you? If it's not that important, then would you receive a better Return On Investment by using that hour to recruit new life coaching clients?

Also, I recommend being deliberate about how you think of your situation and how you present yourself to others. For instance, you said "After all, when you're suddenly not working, you no longer have a set routine." By "working" did you mean maintaining an 8-hour a day commitment to productivity? Just because you're producing out of your home, and your 8 hours may be broken into Midnight to 2am, 11am-1pm, and 6pm-9pm doesn't mean you're not working. I occasionally telecommute to my regular job, and I always tell people "I'll be working from home tomorrow" I never say "I'll be at home tomorrow" or "I'm going to do some things from home" As a professional I want to indicate that I'm getting the job done whether it's while I'm in my work office or while I'm in my home office. If there's one thing laptops have done for us, it's to help us realize an "office" is a a place where work gets done, whether it's the third floor cubicle (or corner office), the table at Starbucks, or the bedside of a sick loved one. David Allen's GTD system helped me rethink this as well, with his focus on working wherever you can and arranging tasks by where they needed to be done rather than by project or by time.

Just something to think about...

Life transition-thanks!

After getting a new Masters and then finding that the sinking economics of our small university crushed my career ladder, I am thinking of retirement rather than beating my head against the wall in a clerical job with no chance for advancement (union contract). We are geographically-isolated three/four hours from cities and I have a tenured spouse, so am place-bound. I will be faced with a situation where the 8 to 5 structure is gone and I will be teaching some classes at the university, doing some volunteering, and gigging. Thanks for the information on staying productive in what could have been an out-of-control day without the 8 to 5 parameter.

sporter
"To fly, we must have resistance."

Good feedback

Hello,

Thanks for the feedback. I think you bring up some really good points here for me to consider.

The creating of the material does fit into the marketing/publicize work...in this case creating the material necessary to market and publicize my services.

I'll have to check out David Allen's work.

The Creative Health and Wealth Life Coach
http://www.imagineyourreality.com
Contact me for a half hour consultation that could change your life!