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Do you struggle with your productivity as a work-at-home entrepreneur? Is managing your time something that causes you stress? Or do you find yourself scrolling on social media instead of tackling your most important tasks?
Believe me, you’re not alone! Staying productive while working from home has been my biggest struggle since starting my proofreading and copyediting business. There are just too many distractions, and my desk is too close to the TV and the fridge! And if I’m not procrastinating, I’m trying to tackle too many tasks at a time.
Not to mention, the internal struggles that go on like
- How do I know what goals to set?
- What do I need to do to achieve those goals?
- How do I organize my time so that I never miss a deadline?
It’s overwhelming! Luckily, there are productivity experts out there who are willing to share what works for them and set you up with productivity strategies that will help you crush your goals.
My friend Tara Whitaker is a productivity coach who helps female entrepreneurs work out what’s important to them, set goals, and figure out what they need to do to meet those goals. I interviewed her to learn how she got into that business and how she makes working from home work for her.
Take it away, Tara!
1. Hey, Tara! Tell us a little bit about you and your business. What’s your work-at-home job?
Hi there! I’ve been a serial freelancer and entrepreneur for the past seven years (I can’t believe it’s been that long already!). I started out as a freelance writer, copyeditor, and proofreader working for multiple clients. That led to me becoming a managing editor for a small publisher, which then led into copyediting romance novels for a major publisher. Next up, I took on a client and became the content manager for her business — and was lucky enough to meet you during that time. 🙂 I then started working for another major publisher copyediting and proofreading fiction.
Phew! That twisty path led me to where I am today, which is running my productivity coaching business.
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2. I’m so glad we met! It was so cool working with you, and you definitely helped me stay productive while we worked together. Why did you decide on this line of work and how did you get started?
I started doing productivity coaching after I witnessed so many female entrepreneurs become overwhelmed in their businesses. They were trying to do all the things and getting buried in the process. My job is to help those women get organized, focus on what matters to them in their current season, and help them crush their goals.
3. Awesome! It can be so difficult to focus when you have so many other distractions. Did you need any training or experience for this job? Did you take any courses?
You don’t need any specific training or degree to help other entrepreneurs with their productivity, but I do think you need to possess certain skills. A productivity coach should be able to…well, know how to be productive 😉 But they should also be organized, detail-oriented, business savvy, and have the drive to help their clients succeed.
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4. Having worked with you, I know you definitely have those qualities! Talk us through a typical workday.
I pretty much have my routine down to a science at this point, but my mornings fluctuate depending on how early my daughter decides to wake up that day. I’ve found that without a solid routine, my productivity plummets and I end up never really accomplishing anything.
6:30am: Wake up
6:45am: Breakfast, playtime, and daycare drop-off
8:00am: Fill out my Five-Minute Journal, make coffee, and grab my breakfast
8:15am: Call with my business accountability partner
8:45am: Get to work!
Noon: Grab lunch
12:45pm: Back to work!
4:30pm: Wrap up work and plan out my goals for the next day
5. Is this your full-time job or a side hustle? How many hours a week do you work?
This is my full-time job! I typically work a standard 40-hour work week, but that can fluctuate depending on what projects I have on my plate. Some weeks it’s less, and some weeks it’s a little more. Family and personal time is a priority for me, though, so I rarely go over 40 hours unless it’s absolutely necessary. The great thing about being your own boss is that you decide when and how much you want to work.
My goal in the next year is to try and get my work week down to about 25–30 hours a week.
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6. That would be amazing! What one quality would you say is the most important for your job?
I would have to say the ability to stay organized and on task. When you have your own business, you have a lot of balls up in the air and are constantly juggling multiple projects at a time. If I don’t keep everything meticulously organized and don’t give things my full attention, my business would tank in a heartbeat.
7. What one tool could you not live without?
The one tool that has completely changed the way I manage my business and my personal life is Trello. I’ve been using the tool for only about a year, but it made an immediate impact on my productivity and organization. I know exactly what needs to be focused on and when, including my short- and long-term goals for my business. I’m not sure how I survived before Trello!
A close second would be my Productivity Planner. It combines goal-setting and a to-do list while incorporating the Pomodoro technique (which is basically working in 25-minute increments). It’s taken my productivity and my focus to another level.
Everything I need for my business is housed in Trello, but I use my Productivity Planner to chunk out my goals on a daily and weekly basis.
Get the journal and planner that help Tara stay productive:
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8. The Pomodoro technique is a game-changer. I really need to start using it again. How do you manage your work/life balance when you work from home?
I’ve learned a lot about working from home over the past seven years. What I’ve come to realize is that the concept of work/life balance is not exactly what we’re led to believe. “Balance” implies work and life are 50/50, but I’ve found that to be incredibly difficult to achieve in today’s world. I like to think of it more as “work/life shift.”
I know there will be times when I’m a rockstar business owner, and there will be other times when I’m a rockstar wife/mother/sister/daughter/friend/etc. It’s okay for something to be a priority for a little while, and then shift to another priority, and so on. We can’t be everything to everyone all the time, and it’s okay to let things slide if they need to — as long as it aligns with your goals and you’re comfortable with the consequences. In short: you do you, whatever that looks like.
9. That’s great advice. It’s not one size fits all, and we shouldn’t try to make it be. What’s your favorite part about your job as a productivity coach?
I absolutely LOVE the freedom of having my own business. I’m 100% in charge of which direction I want to take, what projects I want to work on, and how fast or slow I want to grow. I’m not sure I can ever go back to having a boss!
10. What’s the most challenging part of your job?
This is a great question! For me, I have to be very careful about not getting comparison-itis with people who are ahead of me in their journey. I always want to be going faster and accomplishing things more quickly, and I have to remind myself that I can’t compare my beginning to someone else’s middle. I’m on my journey and my journey alone, and I’ll get there when I’m supposed to get there. I’m a very impatient person, so I have to tell myself this on the regular.
11. Any advice for someone interested in getting started with this work-at-home career?
Working from home is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. I would absolutely make sure you have the personality and discipline for it before you take the leap. If you thrive off other people’s energy, you’re going to have a difficult time working from home by yourself. And if you need someone to remind you of deadlines or to keep you on task, being your own boss might not be the best option.
Tara Whitaker is a productivity coach for entrepreneurs. She helps overwhelmed business owners focus on the right things in their businesses and personal lives so they can crush their goals without losing their sh*t. When she’s not working, Tara is either hanging out with her husband and daughter or drinking wine with her nose in a book.
I love that Tara highlights the benefits and challenges of working from home and being your own boss. It can be difficult to stay focused and productive when you have so many different priorities, but with a personal productivity coach like Tara by your side, you can totally crush those goals!
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