If you work-from-home (or are thinking about it), you probably have millions of ideas about what you “should do”. I can vividly remember the first day I worked from home. It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I dove into my work, even though I didn’t really know what that was yet.
I bounced from reading articles and setting up my social media profiles, to other random tasks; I was a madwoman on a mission.
All of a sudden, it was 6:30 pm, and it was time to quit working and spend time with my family. I felt demoralized and overwhelmed with guilt because I realized that although I'd been busy all day, I hadn’t accomplished anything productive.
Do You Want to Have it All?
You're a woman, and you want to have it all. You want a successful career and family life. (I get it I’m right there with you). If you're anything like me, you don’t want to settle in the important areas of your life. Notice I said important areas of your life!
I believe you CAN'T have it all. Yes, I said it, I’m a woman, and I don’t believe that we can have it all.
I don’t believe that any man or woman can have it all. In my experience, when you try to have it all, you end up sucking at most things and feel stressed out. When you try to do and be everything, you take away from your ability to excel in the important areas of your life.
Your Attention Glass
Each day we start with a limited amount of attention available to us. Your focus is not unlimited and is used up quickly. When you work-from-home, it's important to keep track of your attention and use it effectively. Imagine that you have an attention glass that is full each morning when you wake up. If you stayed up late or went out drinking the night before, your attention glass will already be half empty.
Everything you do throughout your day drains your attention glass. Most of us drain our attention on things that are unimportant and have very little left for the things we really care about. Your attention glass doesn’t care if what you’re doing is important or not. If you spend two hours mindlessly surfing the web, you have drained your attention glass. That attention is gone and cannot be spent on your lover, family, or important work tasks.
How to Unbalance Your Life
I’m a therapist who specializes in helping professional women with dating and relationships. Some days I see clients in my office and some days I work-from-home. I’m actually writing this article while sitting on my couch surrounded by my two cats. I’m simultaneously amused and annoyed by them vying for my attention by rubbing up against my laptop.
I’ve had more days than I can count working from home where I felt “swamped,” but didn’t see any results by the end of the day. I’m going to suggest something counterintuitive and wild, that you unbalance your life and work so that you can have everything that’s important to you.
I know it sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Most experts demand you have balance in your life, and that’s what most people try to do. But you're not most people. You're a woman who wants to successfully work-from-home. Women who are successful and fulfilled in a couple of important areas actually live unbalanced lives. Unbalancing your life allows you to put the majority of your attention on the things that matter to you, so you can absolutely dominate in a few important areas in your life.
Here are four simple steps to unbalance your life so you can work-from-home peacefully.
Step 1: Consciously Decide Your Ideal Final Destination
Discover the things that deeply matter to you about working from home:
- What experiences do you want to have?
- Specifically what do you want to achieve in working from home?
- What excites you about working from home?
- Who would you like to work with?
- What kind of person do you want to be as a woman working from home?
Create a very specific and compelling final destination by answering these and similar questions about working from home and also about your personal relationships.
Step 2: Track What Drains Your Attention Glass Each Day
For a couple of days, track how you spend your time and attention. Are you spending hours mindlessly surfing the web or chatting on Facebook? I discovered one of my biggest attention wasters was reading information on the internet. Yes, it was helpful, but it also led to much less output or getting projects done. These activities aren’t good or bad but remember draining your attention glass on one activity means less available attention for others.
Step 3: Create a Not-To-Do List
What you don’t do determines what you can do. After you’ve tracked how you use your attention and time, add any activity that isn’t important to you on your not-to-do list. For each activity that you’ve tracked ask yourself, “will this move me closer to my meaningful goals? Do I truly love or enjoy doing this?” If you answered no to both questions, add the activity on your not-to-do list.
Step 4: Unbalance How You Use Your Attention Glass Each Day
Personal finance experts often teach people to pay themselves first to make saving money an automatic and easy habit. I recommend doing the same thing with your attention glass. Pay the majority of your attention to the actions and people contributing directly to your final destination first. That way, you’ll always be taking care of what is important to you. Each day you wake up, spend a majority of your attention on your meaningful goals. Anything that doesn’t directly or indirectly contribute to those goals, you want to avoid or say “no” to most likely.
- Track all the things that drain your attention glass each day.
- Decide on the few things that deeply matter to you.
- Create a not-to-do list.
- Unbalance how you use your attention glass each day, skewing it toward what’s important to you.
- Pay an overwhelming majority of your attention to the actions and people contributing directly to your final destination first.
- Avoid or say “no” to people and activities that take away from your final destination as much as possible.
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Ashley Arn is the founder of Crucial Habits. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who teaches professional women crucial habits for dating and relationship success.