Struggling to find the best tips for working from home and juggle work and family? Today’s guest, Debbie Arcangeles, is here to give you her secrets for being more productive working from home.
Today’s guest, Debbie Arcangeles, is the founder of The OffBeat Life: a company dedicated to helping remote workers succeed, and she’s here today to give you her ultimate work-at-home survival guide.
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You’re Listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode #53! which is all about tips for working from home and how to be productive working from home. I’ve got a special guest with me on the show today who is going to give you the ultimate work-at-home survival guide: how to navigate the ups, downs, and distractions of working at home and juggling your life and family in the mix. Whether you’ve recently transitioned to working from home thanks to COVID or you’ve been at it for a while, you’re going to love these actionable takeaways to make working from home feel a little more effortless. That’s coming up next, so stay tuned!
I remember when I first started working from home. Man, it felt like a dream come true! I could get up when I wanted, wear what I wanted, eat when I wanted, take breaks when I wanted, workout when I wanted, sit wherever I wanted… It was pretty awesome. Some days you’d find me on the couch, some days I’d work from bed, other days I’d be at the kitchen table or at my makeshift desk that I had in the house we were living in at the time, which was a table I’d bought from a garage sale years earlier and painted so that it didn’t look quite so 70s chic.
But one thing I never betted on was the distractions I’d have all around me, staring me in the face every day. That pile of laundry that needed folding, and that other pile that needed to be washed. The dirty dishes left over from cooking lunch. The crazy gravitational pull I felt to check social media and email all day long, because I didn’t have a boss looking over my shoulder anymore giving me the evil eye when I was checking my phone. My bed, beckoning me to take a nap. The snacks! Oh gosh, the snacks.
Fast-forward four years later with an almost-three year old in the mix, the noise! Oh, gosh, the noise. Don’t get me wrong, I love when AJ peeps his eye through the hole in the old sliding barn door to my office while I’m on a zoom call, saying hi mom, are you all done? But it’s a challenge to hear myself think when I need to do focused work and my family is down the hall. This can be a real challenge for anyone that works from home.
If you work from home, chances are we agree: it ain’t no cake walk. Sure it has its perks, and I would never dream of doing things any differently, but there is a certain amount of discipline you need to have if you plan to work from home and succeed at doing so. And the question always comes how to be productive working from home.
That’s why my guest today, Debbie Arcangeles is here to give you her work-from-home survival guide to help make working from home a little easier, so you can stay focused and avoid the distractions that otherwise hinder your progress, she ultimately gives tips for working from home. Debbie is the founder of The Offbeat Life, where she helps entrepreneurs with tools and ideas to start businesses, work from home, and learn remote-work skills that allow you the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime. She also teaches how to be productive working from home.
She’s going to give you an up-close and personal look at her own work-from-home routines, so you can adapt these same techniques into your own life to keep you focused and grounded amid the chaos of a busy work-day and sometimes-too-loud family. My hope is that you’ll walk away from this episode with a few more tools in your toolbelt to master the juggle, effortlessly and provide tips for working from home. Let’s roll that tape.
Courtney Elmer 0:30
Debbie, welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. I am so excited that you are here today. I’d love to start by having you tell us what it means to live an Offbeat Life.
Debbie Archangeles 0:52
Absolutely. So like Courtney said, my name is Debbie. I didn't plan on The Offbeat Life to be something that I was going to do with my life. I was a photojournalist, and I was a teacher, then I was a therapist. But I felt unfulfilled. I was at a point where I thought I had the American dream, I got paid well, I made my own hours. But there was always something missing. I needed something aside from what I was doing. So I actually started The Offbeat Life, because I wanted to interview people like you Courtney, who were location independent and had the life that I wanted, and to have more freedom. So I started it on a whim, then came the website. Within six months, brands started coming up to me to sponsor the show. Within eight months, I was earning as much or actually more than my day job. It snowballed from there, now it's what I do full time working from home or location independent. I’ve mastered how to be productive working from home or wherever.
Courtney Elmer 2:19
Wow. It's interesting to hear stories like this, because for a lot of entrepreneurs, you notice that you don't necessarily have it all planned out from day one. It evolves over time. So how specifically do you help people? And how do you offer tips for working from home? What are some tips on how to be productive working from home?
Debbie Archangeles 2:45
So The Offbeat Life is a podcast and a website where we give people tips and tricks on how they can start working remotely and how they can transition from their nine to five to be able to live and work from anywhere. That's our main focus: helping people learn remote skills and how to be productive working from home.
Courtney Elmer 3:18
We're seeing more and more people work from home, whether it's by desire or by necessity. But a lot of people go into it not knowing the skills that are required for being successful while working from home. I hear this a lot from even clients and students of ours who will say, “I'm not good at working from home, because I can’t focus. I see the dirty dishes and I see the laundry. It distracts me from being able to work.” Or, they say the kids are too loud. Or, maybe they don't have a designated workspace setup, so their house isn’t conducive to working. What are some tips or essential skills that you’d say are necessary for someone to develop in order to be successful working remotely or working from home? What are tips for how to be productive working from home?
Debbie Archangeles 4:02
I get where they're all coming from because I started out like that, too. My background was not remote working, I had to learn and it does take time to transition. There’s no one-size-fits-all-approach. You have to make sure you’re working in a space you feel comfortable in. You have to know how you work, and how well you work in the space you are working.
When you work from home, you'll have a little bit more freedom. If you have family at home, you have to tell them: Listen, at this certain time, mommy or daddy needs to have their space. There's quiet time, I know a lot of parents that put a Do Not Disturb sign on, on top of their desk, or on the door.
Also one of the things that I have found with a lot of stay at home workers is it's hard for us to stop at a specific time. So realizing that there should be a definite difference between work and home life. That's a big balance that we have to learn, especially in the beginning. So having those set hours that you feel like you're comfortable with as well. Everything else you'll learn as you go, including tips for working from home and how to be productive working from home.
Courtney Elmer 6:18
I agree that so much of it is trial and error. Many people enter the world of entrepreneurship from an office environment where like you said, you're told how to sit, what to do, where to do it, and when to take your break. At home, you have way more freedom and a lot less structure, and you have to create the structure for yourself. I love what you said about communicating with your family, too. In fact, right before we hopped on for this interview, I went and told my toddler that mommy has a call, and I'll see you afterwards. The more openly we can dialogue with our kids, and even even go as far as to include them in the process and help them understand, especially if they're a little older, why you're working, and what your work provides for the family and what it means, that can be powerful.
You mentioned last about having those specific start and stop times for working. And my guess is a lot of people listening struggle with that: how do I turn off at the end of a day? What would you recommend for people to help them create those boundaries for themselves, and then actually stick to those boundaries when it comes to working in your home environment?
Debbie Archangeles 7:58
What I’ve found that’s helped me is creating a checklist for myself. I give myself a set set time limit. Sometimes I'll tell myself to work early in the morning, and then I'll end at like 12 or 1pm. Or sometimes I feel like working in the afternoons from say 1pm to 6pm. It doesn't have to be a set time every single day, unless obviously you have clients that need you at a specific time.
But this is the beauty again, about being location independent, and being able to work from home if you can set different hours every day if you want to. So sometimes I feel like I'm more productive in the morning. I have my checklist, and as long as I finish what's on my list, I feel good.
But make sure you don't put too much on it. Because otherwise, it's going to be snowballing and you'll never stop. For me, as long as I finish what's on my list, then I can stop.
I like that because you have the structure to know that I need to get done what's on this list. But the freedom that it doesn't have to get done at a certain time. These are great tips for working from home.
Courtney Elmer 8:49
So how would you go about developing that checklist? What's your specific process for that? Do you sit down the night before and say okay, these are the things I need to do the next day? Or do you plan it all out a week at a time? Walk us through what your process looks like for that?
Debbie Archangeles 9:08
So the great thing with my process and with my business, is that I have an amazing team behind me who also has their checklists. I also know exactly what day I’m doing what, and it’s mostly the same every single week. Fridays are my podcast interview days, Thursdays are pitching, and it’s all set so I know exactly what I’m doing.
I like having designated days for specific tasks. I know what to do already. I also make sure that there are three things that are not as hard for me to do or it's not time consuming, and two that are time consuming. So it's not all hard tasks. If it is, you’ll feel overwhelmed. So I try to balance it out so that I feel like I've done work. That's why I like to balance both. They are the perfect tips for working from home.
Courtney Elmer 11:23
Yes, and so simple to say, “Okay, I have these two big things to focus on these three smaller things.” That’s a simple formula right there to start putting your tasks into some semblance of order, as opposed to “I've got all these 20 things to get done on my list at one time.” I love what you said too about having designated days for things. That gives your brain space to pull in and park, where the only thing you have to focus on is that one theme for the day as opposed to juggling all the different elements in your business all day every day.
Debbie Archangeles 12:10
Absolutely. It actually helps me not to think too much. When there's too many things happening at once, it takes a lot of energy out of me. But when it's the specific things like for example, on Fridays doing interviews, I don't need to think about anything else. I don't put my energy on anything else, because it gets draining when you're pulled in so many different directions.
Courtney Elmer 12:50
I’m glad you brought that up about energy too, because I think a lot of entrepreneurs fall into this misconception of “I need to get better at managing my time.” But we all have 24 hours on the clock, so it's not about a matter of how good you are at managing your time. It's a matter of how good you are at managing where your energy is going. If my day is all over the place with all these different things to do like it pulls that energy out of me. It gives you that drained, overwhelmed feeling as opposed to a focused, productive feeling. So, it's one thing to have some structure in place and to know this is how my day is going to flow. But it's another thing to manage your mental energy, and the amount of time that you spend thinking about your work, especially when working for home. So let's pivot the conversation because I'd love to hear your tips on managing your mental health while working from home.
Debbie Archangeles 14:21
Yeah, that is huge. Before COVID happened, I would be able to go to a cafe, and I’d get energy from being around other people. It’s been hard for me being at home and not being able to go anywhere. But the one thing that I have been able to do is go for walks. So my fiance and I have a routine in the morning: we wake up, we get ready, and we go for our walk in our neighborhood, because it's important for us to be able to do that to clear our heads to talk to each other. Having that routine set in place helps us get going. When you have that structure, your energy feels a lot better and helps how to be productive working from home.
Courtney Elmer 16:40
It helps so much when we have that set routine, and how to be productive working from home. In structure, there is freedom. When you start your day with a routine, you're orienting your day for success. And moving your body first thing in the morning as opposed to waiting until the end of the day helps as well because by the end of the day, you feel so tired and drained, that you skip working out.
When you're not prioritizing yourself, your health, and your energy, it's going to play out in your business down the road. What we experience in the future we're creating in the present. So if you're putting your body and your health off now, then later on it will show up as burnout and overwhelm. All of those things. I'm curious to hear more about your morning routine. Is there anything else that you do in the mornings that you feel grounds you for the day and prepares you for the workday ahead? What are some tips for working from home and more importantly, how to be productive working from home?
Debbie Archangeles 17:43
What we do is simple. We wake up around six o'clock in the morning, and then we'll go for either our morning walk or run depending on how we’re feeling that day. Then we come home and we prepare breakfast together, smoothies or whatever breakfast we want. Then we get ready for the workday. It’s great for us to be able to create that space to talk together, and not talk about work. This is my best tip on how to be productive working from home.
Courtney Elmer 18:13
Yes, the natural tendency is to talk about work, or to talk about kids, but not the deeper things. I find that that deeper connection is so important for mental health because the more connected you feel with those in your life around you, the more connected and tapped into that support system you are, whether that’s with a significant other, close friend, parent or sibling, or community of colleagues you collaborate with. The more connected you are, the more resilient you are too and able to bounce back from periods of overwhelm, or stress, and anxiety.
Debbie Archangeles 19:20
Absolutely. It's so true. I can't speak for everybody, but for me, it makes me feel so much better, especially when there are days where you're frustrated about something. It's good to talk it out with someone, or even when you're happy about something. To voice that and express it in a healthy way.
Courtney Elmer 20:59
So key. I know some of our listeners can relate to feeling lonely while building a business. It’s a solitary process, even when you have a team backing you. You’re still the one on the hook for bringing your vision to life. Often, we run into friends and family who don’t understand what it takes to run a business. So what's your advice to someone who might be struggling with that? What are your tips for working from home while also how to be productive working from home?
Maybe they don't have a supportive family or a support system in place. What would you say to them to help them connect with people who are like minded so working from home doesn't feel so lonely?
Debbie Archangeles 22:01
One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is you find kindred spirits along the way. There's always someone who is going to be supportive of you. But, it can be hard to find those people, right. But the ones that you do meet that you feel that connection to is valuable. When we're staying at home, we're oftentimes in our own world. Sometimes, even most of the time, I don't talk to family and friends about what I do. Because it feels like you're either bragging or it doesn't feel right. But when you're talking to other people who are going through similar things as you, it feels more comfortable because you feel like they understand you.
So one of the ways that you can do that is to join a community, whether that’s on social media or locally. If you have a podcast like Courtney and I do, you meet a lot of great people that way too through interviews like this. You have to put yourself out there and find those people because it's worth it to have that support system, especially if you don't have that with anyone that is in your circle right now. These are some of my best tips for working from home.
Courtney Elmer 24:00
I relate to sharing with friends and family who don’t get it. It’s ok, they’re not going to. So don’t waste your time and energy trying to make them understand, go out and find people who already do. Having that support system is going to be so helpful, and a critical piece of your success as an entrepreneur. This brings us to a beautiful moment in the show where I ask every guest the same question, yet no two answers have ever been alike. Debbie, what’s your definition of success? What are some of your favorite tips for working from home and how to be productive working from home?
Debbie Archangeles 26:03
My definition of success is absolute freedom for myself. I talk a lot about this in my own podcast. The reason why I started The Offbeat Life was to have that freedom to do with my time however I please. There has to be a balance between creating income and also spending time with the people that you love. Having freedom gives you the time to have that balance. So for me, that's what it's all about.
Courtney Elmer 27:24
That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I know that resonates with so many people, freedom is one of those values that so many of us hold dear. Thanks so much for coming on the show today, Debbie, you have shared some awesome wisdom on how to be productive working from home. Where can people find you online?
Debbie Archangeles 27:45
Absolutely, you can find me at offbeatlife.com. we have awesome resources, every word resources that you can take a look at where we give you places where you can find online jobs. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, where I send you online jobs that you can apply to every single week and I give you tips on how to actually get clients so you can find us there. You can also find us on Instagram @theoffbeatlifepodcast.
Courtney Elmer 28:27
Awesome. Debbie, thank you so much for being here.
How great was that? How many tips for working from home and how to be productive working from home strategies did you learn? Hopefully that gives you some new ideas that you can start incorporating into your own home work environment. Even if you implement one thing from this episode with the tips for working from home. That’s enough to kickstart change and help you get things moving in the right direction.
If you’re looking for more tools on how to streamline and structure your business so that you can scale and grow without the overwhelm and the overwork, then make sure you’re on the list to be notified for my next live online workshop where I’ll walk you through step by step the four components you must have in your business in order to get out from behind the scenes and step into your power and your calling as the Visionary Leader your business needs you to be, so you can lead your business, and your team, to the next level of growth and revenue.
I’d love to have you join me for my next live workshop. It’ll be by invite only, so you’ll need to add yourself to the waitlist so you can get notified via email as soon as my team puts together the dates and times for the training. You can do that right now at theeffortlesslife.co.
If you want to see behind the scenes how I juggle working from home and how to be productive working from home while raising a family, come follow me on Instagram and send me a DM @theeffortlesslife.co
Coming up next week on the show I’ve got a special guest joining me who’s going to be here to talk about the #1 best way to pivot your brand. So if you’ve been feeling a pull in a different direction, but you’re where I was a year ago and you’re afraid to step out and make the leap because it’s not something the experts are telling you you should do, then join me back here next week where you’ll learn how to pivot and bring the fun and energy back into your business again. That’s coming up next week; until then, go live YOUR EffortLESS Life®.