Unlike many who started working from home for the first time this year, I have worked from home in some capacity for many years. Splitting time at my office space nearby and traveling locally, I would work from home between travel and as needed. When the pandemic hit I found myself at home consistently like so many others.
At first I downplayed the change, finding myself lucky and adaptable to this new routine. I am so grateful and lucky to have a job where I can work remotely and safely. I convinced myself I enjoyed being able to cook meals, do laundry, grab packages, and do anything else really, between working. I’m at home – why not do the laundry? Start this gift? Draft this Instagram post? Not just these home tasks, but also taking care of business matters from updating Quickbooks to prepping holiday cards for clients, were intertwined and overlapping. Which then meant extended work hours. The ‘to do lists’ reigned supreme, an endless list of tasks I needed to complete to check off my productivity box. I was home – I had no excuse!
Once I realized what I was doing – trying to do everything so struggling to do anything – I took a hard stop. The habit of multitasking is a hard one to break and creeps up regularly. I realized I was not truly focused, rarely completing a task in one sitting and all productivity suffering. At an event on productivity with Daymond John from Shark Tank, he discussed the ‘hit the desk method’: when something hits your desk, you take care of it right away. I usually have this mindset with work and anything in my life, to take care of whatever business is needed as soon as possible. While this may support productivity of checking off your to do list, it derails your focus and takes you from one open tab to the next.
Being home consistently places our homes, daily habits, relationships, work ethic, and family dynamics under a microscope. I knew I wasn’t focusing and needed a change. I realigned my time to schedule the time I work on certain aspects and focus on one project or task at a time. I scheduled time to focus on health too, from planning my meals and snacks, to taking breaks for walks even just around the block, and to making drinking water interesting by adding fruit. I set better boundaries with clients and colleagues, and try to set meetings within business hours and not send an email right away just to get it done. I am reading books and listening to podcasts that support adjusting habits and focus, such as Atomic Habits by James Clear. With this new focus, I am able realign and complete the goal of each task, whether for work, personal, or home needs, and not simply to get through to the next.
As I head into 2021, I am leaving multitasking behind and realigning for true focus. I will focus individually on myself, my work, my home, my clients, and learn how to integrate these needs rather than overlap them. I renamed my to do list as the ‘try to do list’ and am giving myself grace. I am home, and the tasks will be there tomorrow. No excuses needed.