[I’m updating this post! Since I wrote it back in March, I’ve gotten a lot busier, and I’ve had to really tighten up my “self care” routine in order to get my work done in the day, plus keep feeling great and motivated. I’m a blogger and a proofreader and a business coach now, so time management is OF THE ESSENCE!! I’m also featuring a few of my favorite fellow entrepreneurs that have helped me stay on track as I grow — and help others grow.]
Proofreading at home isn’t for everyone. There, I said it!
Some people can’t handle it. I’m extremely careful with how I market my transcript proofreading course — I make it very, very clear if you don’t want to put in work to learn the ropes, don’t enroll.
Proofreading at home requires a tremendous ability to focus. If you get distracted or interrupted a lot and can’t find a way to fix it, I’d recommend figuring that out before diving head first into a new career path. I’d go so far as to say if you can’t focus, you really shouldn’t consider proofreading or editing as a way to earn income. Staying focused is how I got my yearly earnings to over $40,000 a year on a part-time basis. If I’d lallygagged and taken forever to complete my transcripts, I’d have tricked myself into thinking I could only take on 10 clients instead of 30… and I’d probably be making a third of that amount per year.
Now, to be fair: learning to focus for a long period of time takes practice. There’s no way around that. So if you employ these things I do to stay focused when proofreading at home for yourself and they “don’t work” or you can’t read as many pages, don’t worry!! It once took me an entire weekend to get through 800 pages. Now I can read 800 pages in a day (it’s not fun, but I can do it!). Just like our bodies need conditioning to run a marathon, our eyes and brains need conditioning, too. Speed and focus come with practice.
All right, without further ado, here are the seven things I do to stay focused (and sane!) when I’m proofreading at home!
1) I use earbuds + music/noise.
The first thing I do when I find myself in a high-distraction environment, I plug in earbuds (or use noise-canceling headphones) with nature/instrumental music that helps me concentrate and not hear lawnmowers outside, cats fighting/playing, my husband rummaging around in the kitchen, etc. I also really like “Relax Melodies” on iPhone. Brown noise (which is in the paid version) is my favorite, but rain is also good. Some people find “even” noise better to help them remove distractions. I kinda lean toward noise more than music, too. Once I was listening to a nature+instrumental station on Pandora, and a beautiful instrumental version of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” (from Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2!!) came on and BOOM. Couldn’t focus. Had to sing along. Ha!!
2) I set a timer.
Another thing I do is set a timer! If I have 200 pages I want to get done, I may set a timer of 120 minutes (I can read up to 100 transcript pages an hour — unless it’s really dense or complex, then I do about 50). I will then sit there and read until I have completed those pages.
I don’t always set a timer, but I find it helps when I have an open day ahead of me — take Wednesdays, for example. Wednesdays are my day off. I don’t have to leave the house for any reason … I basically have all day to get my work done. And given the entire day, even if I only had 200 pages, my brain would drag it out to where those 200 pages would literally take all day. If I sat down and focused, it’d only take me two hours. Knowing that, I set the timer to make sure I get other things done, and that I have some free time on my day off to do other important things. Like watch 14 straight episodes of Friends on Netflix. Or blog. You know, the usual.
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3) I meet my own basic needs.
Before I set the timer, though, I make sure all my, um, human needs are met. That is, I make sure my stomach’s not growling, my throat isn’t parched, and that I don’t have to pee! Sometimes I keep easy snacks nearby, like raisins, that I can munch on if I need to. I keep a glass of water nearby as well, so I don’t need to get up and go to the kitchen for anything.
Bonus Tip: Check Your Eye Health!
It’s slightly more difficult to get through the day when you aren’t able to, um, see clearly — so if you’re getting headaches or having trouble reading, you probably should be wearing glasses. See a doc or make sure your current prescription is correct. I’ve worn glasses since 2010 — it’s vital to have glasses that fit correctly and that you enjoy wearing! Coastal.com has cute glasses starting at only $49. I bought some from them over two years ago, and they’re still my favorite. I even had the lenses replaced so I could use the same ones when my prescription changed!
4) I turn off all other distractions.
I turn my phone on silent. Especially if I’m working on a rush job in that two-hour time frame. If you have banner notifications on your iPad, you can shut those off for the time being, or simply turn off your wireless on your iPad for a bit. I know that can be hard, and it’s totally optional — I’ve already told you guys how smart it is to stay plugged in in this business! I find turning off the wireless works best when you’re up late, way past business hours. No need to worry too much about replying immediately at 1:00 in the morning, right? I’m a night owl more and more these days, so I find myself up late finishing transcripts a lot, just ’cause I can. Nice n’ quiet… why not?
So there you have it! Four things I do to stay focused when proofreading at home.
BONUS: Three things I do to STAY SANE when working from home … that you can do, too!
It used to surprise me when I’d receive emails from folks asking me what I do in the mornings before working, or how I stay in shape since I’m always traveling nowadays. I was like … Why do you want to know that?
Then it hit me.
I’m training people to start their own proofreading businesses — it needs to come full circle if I’m going to do that. Being a successful business owner isn’t just about doing great work and getting loyal clients — it also has to do with your mindset and how you make it a point to start your day off for success.
So here are three ways I do that!
1) I start my mornings off well. (Well, I TRY to.)
Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com is a regular promoter of PA — and we love her for it! She’s even received thank-you emails from students who’ve taken Transcript Proofreading! Without her, some of our most successful students wouldn’t be where they are today.
Crystal’s the master of many things, one of which is optimizing your day to feel good about it when it’s over. I had the privilege of being the final set of eyes to edit her latest handbook for her new 14-day course, Make Over Your Mornings — WOW! I will admit, I initially agreed to do it to help a fellow blogger out and thought HEY, this’ll be an interesting read, but I didn’t expect the material to actually help me. It rocked my world. For $17, you get 14 fantastic, professional video lessons + a workbook (which was proofread and edited by yours truly :-)).
Another great life-changing resource for “making over” your mornings is the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
2) I MOVE!
Since May of 2014, I’ve been working out with Suzanne Bowen from SuzanneBowenFitness.com! Her workouts are gentle, effective, and my sit-all-day legs and bum have never looked better. The best part is you can do all of her workouts BAREFOOT. I pay just $80 per year to stream over 300 workouts in Suzanne’s ever-expanding library. It’s like Christmas when she puts a new workout into the library. Suzanne’s workouts focus on control, feel-good cardio (including super-healthy intervals), functional movement, balance, and burn 🙂 They range from 5 minutes to 45 minutes in length. My favorites are the 15-20 minute workouts! It always surprises me how much Suzanne can pack into 15 minutes.
I also really like Jessica Smith TV. Jessica Smith is a Miami-based personal trainer and fitness instructor — she has produced tons of DVDs, but her website has hundreds of totally free, full-length workouts in various genres, such as indoor walking, cardio intervals, barre, yoga, Pilates, toning, and more.
Want to try it now? Take a 20-minute break and do this indoor walk with Jessica!
Bonus Tip: Train With a Professional — At Home!
Who has time to actually go to the gym anymore? Not me! With Daily Burn, you can train with a professional right in the comfort of your own home. Stream workouts on any device and have them tailored to your specific needs. I get my butt kicked and didn’t even have to leave the living room!
What about nutrition?
Good nutrition helps me stay focused, too, but I’ll be the first to admit it’s usually the first thing to suffer when I get super busy. Before I know it, I’m 10 pounds heavier and not feeling good at all! So, a few times a year, I do a reset. My favorite way to do this is with a 21-Day Kickstart or a 3-5 day juice cleanse. Then, some or even all of my meals are taken care of for three whole weeks! Especially when I have a few pounds to lose, having all the work done for me is a beautiful thing — it feels next to effortless.
Bonus Tip: Give Your Brain a Nutrition Boost!
TruBrain is a supplement that blends cognitive enhancers and nutrients to help boost brain function and sharpen your mental focus. Sometimes I sit at my computer all day hungry because I let myself get too busy to eat — not good, I know. These supplements help me ensure my brain has what it needs to function — and I can bounce back if I get too carried away.
3) At the beginning and end of the day, I reflect.
Regardless of whether I get the laundry done or fit in a workout (I’m trying, Crystal!! :-)), I make time in my day — just a few minutes — to reflect. Life goes by SO FAST and it’s so easy to get sucked into the hamster wheel routine. One of my life’s goals is to not wake up when I’m 70+ years old and wonder what I did with my life. I want to distinctly remember as much of it as possible.
My husband “suckered” me into trying this Five-Minute Journal.
I’m going to admit something to you guys: I am terrible at journaling. The journal has enough pages for six months and literally only takes five minutes of your day, and I still missed days because I forgot… but the days I remembered were always the best days. I’m in South America now, and because of luggage space, I did NOT bring my journal with me — and I regret it. Each day includes an inspiring quote to set your perspective, then you record three things you are grateful for + three goals for the day. Then in the evenings, you write down three things that were amazing that day, and anything you would’ve done differently.
How do you focus while you’re doing work? How do you focus on life so it doesn’t just pass you by? Did you do the 20-minute walk with me?! Comment below!
Another thing that helps me stay focused is to stand for a period of time. When I’m very tired, I’ve been known to put my laptop on a kitchen counter while trying to meet a deadline. It gives me a little boost and sharpens my concentration.
SO TRUE!! Just changing your location and positioning can help so much!! I also like to wash my face, do some jumps on my trampoline, or drink a huge glass of water (if it’s been a while… then I go pee. HAHA).
I really loved your tips today. I do no think you left anything out. I am gong to exercise in a few minutes with Jessica Smith. I feel like I am coming alive again.
P.S. I especially like the part where you said we need to answer the emails and to not to procrastinate.
Have a great day. Can’t wait to hear from you tomorrow .
Have a great workout!
Sometimes I make my daughters do their math while standing at the kitchen counter, too. Keeps them awake and helps them focus. Great idea!
Caitlin, I love the journal, I gotta have it. All of them are great tips, but the headphones and free excercise sites are the other two; I will make a priority.
Awareness for increased productivity!
I recently started journaling too! I try to do it early in the morning to organize all the thoughts on my mind. Another thing I do is make a to do list. I put mine on a post it these days. You can only fit so much on those little suckers, and that tenfds to help me focus on the most important tasks!
Great idea for the post its. I’m adopting that one!
Caitlin, I totally agree with your tips. I do entry entry on-site at various locations and the only way I can focus is with my headphones on. I listen to public radio and regular music channels. When I forget my headphones, it is a struggle. Meet basic needs is a important one also. I usually like to eat a lot of times a day but I force myself to eat enough to keep me going for 3 or 4 hours. When the stomach is calling, no more work gets done. I have been thinking about taking your course and this blog entry helped me see that the ability to focus is an important skill to have. Thanks for all your insight.
Sweet!! Headphones are the best. You’re spot on about the stomach. My stomach has the loudest, most disrupting “voice” of all! 🙂 Focus truly is paramount to “making bank” in this line of work!!
I wonder if this idea would work to tune out my dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I love my indoor Shorkies but! They CONSTANTLY demand my attention, wanting in and out every time they see a squirrel or whatever, I can’t get anything done! It won’t hurt them (I tell myself) not to go out every 5 seconds, then I have to tune out the barking! I let them guilt me into getting up and interrupting me. This is what I need to fix to be able to focus. I could try the headphones, put them in their kennels for short periods etc.
Kim, I have the same problem, and because two of my three dogs are quite elderly, I feel even more guilty if I don’t let them out every time they stare at the back door. However, my vet did say that wandering and staring at nothing in particular is typical of older dogs and that I don’t need to assume that their needs aren’t being met. Maybe I should try some headphones just to be able to ignore some of their wanderings and insistence on going in and out all day long…
Kim, try the mesh screens that you attach with velcro to the door that goes outside. I use this for my dogs. This way they can go in and out as often as they want and not disrupt my concentration.
Great tips Caitlin! I’m starting to learn to do things with the TV off! I find I can be more focused and get more done. Standing is a good suggestion mentioned above – I’ll have to try that!
I find I can focus if,
1. I’m in a quiet environment. Music distracts me..all kinds of music. I have been known to use noise cancelling headphones just to block out external noise. Folks assume I’m listening to something, they have no idea I just want the quiet..lol
2. When my dear hubby is not around. He starts sulking when I’m focusing(ignoring him) on other things.
3. After I wake up from a good sleep. During my college days, I discovered that I could concentrate better after I woke up from sleep. Guess what happened? I started going to sleep with my books beside me so I could start studying as soon as I woke up. It still works today.
Joan — this wins the best comment award!! I love it. Do you have a recommendation on noise-canceling headphones? I think I’d like that more than music. Today I used music and I am pretty sure the flutes were getting a bit obnoxious. Quiet does work best for me, too. My hubby also seems to sulk when I don’t pay attention to him!! Today he was at a convention expo and it was nice to have the peace and quiet in house. And I am so intrigued by your college days discovery!! How neat is that?!
I’m not Joan, but I agree with the noise canceling headphones! Those and coffee were often the only things keeping me from throwing staplers at my coworkers last year!
I would recommend the Bose QC15 noise canceling, over-the-ear headphones. I’m currently using the next generation, the QC25’s; they’re great, but the QC15 are better, in my opinion.
Wow! Thank you, Joan! I looove the books at the bedside morning routine!
Thanks, Caitlin: these are great tips! I went immediately and downloaded “Relax Melodies,” and I’m hoping it might do double duty and help lull my baby daughter to sleep for her naps!! I also turned off the banner notifications on my iPad.
I find that when I get sleepy working on the couch, moving to the kitchen table helps (assuming my husband has stopped banging around when doing the dishes!)
LOL OH, wow, my husband bangs around in the kitchen, too! Haha!! Glad you found the tips to be useful for you 😀 Let me know how it works with your lil girl!!
Hahaha “A Thousand Years” would be the most distracting thing for me!!! I love me some Twilight. I agree with Joan saying quiet is best- any and all music is distracting to me if I’m trying to do something else. I turned on Mary Poppins for the kids the other day so I could do some housework and I ignored the housework and just sang and danced around with my littles instead LOL.
My mind is probably sharpest in the morning/midday but that can change from day to day since my kids may have a good or a bad day. 🙂 So I’m definitely going to struggle finding that “sweet spot.” At night I’m usually so dog-gone tired that I just want to zone out and/or pass out.
Lol!! I was so sad when Twilight ended… I need MORE! Mary Poppins was my all-time favorite movie as a kid!! I LOVE the scene when they dance with the penguins. Sometimes I proofread before I even get out of bed in the morning. Somehow that makes me feel good to say, “Hey, I made money before I even got up this morning!” LOL! Really, whenever the best time is to get it done is just that — the best time!!
I just read this post and had to research the difference between lollygag and lallygag. I had never seen the second spelling before. Now you’ve got me proofreading and researching everything!
Haha! I tend to have that effect on people … 😉
How do you estimate how long it will take you to do a job? What factors do you take into account? Do clients often ask for short turn around times (like 2 hours) for jobs?
It all depends on how long the job is. No, clients do not often ask for that quick of a turnaround, but each client is different, each job is different, and anything can happen. Usually turnaround is two to three business days.
What a great idea! I’ve often done this type of thing in the past, focusing on what I’m grateful for, and it’s wonderful! It’s time to do so again and believe I’ll do so via the keyboard as that’s less painful for the arthritis. 🙂
With regard to music or not, in contrast to you and several writers here, complete silence for long stretches can make me sleepy, although I’ve found the degree of sleepiness directly correlates to the amount of time my husband snored the night before, which confirms I need a nap.;-) To help me work, I’ve long relied on classical music, first with headphones in the office world, then from the speakers when I began to work from home.
As to walking with you, I’m currently having struggles with mobility but am determined to change that and increase my endurance and range of movement. (I walked for *miles* when I was younger, and really miss it.) It will get better, if for no other reason that I’m not giving up. 🙂
I prefer typing over writing, too! 🙂
Yes, it WILL get better. Love your attitude!
Hi, Margaret! I am just reading your post and wondering where you are in increasing your activity level. I miss my walks from way back when too! Reading your comment has inspired me and there weren’t even any “encouragement” cliches in it. It was like you were sitting with me and sharing your authentic self! I am encouraged!
For yourself, Caitlin, might you consider recording short snippets on your phone? iPhones have a “Notes” app that might fit the bill, then you can record your thoughts elsewhere once you’re home.
That’s a great idea!!
I don’t typically have trouble with external noise but concentrating for long periods and sitting for long periods can be difficult. I have rheumatoid arthritis and completely relate with Margret.
I also have never been good with the journaling thing. I have tried several times but guess my heart isn’t in it.
I appreciate your taking this extra time.
I live in a rural area that doesn’t have cell service so my cell phone only works when I am out of the area. I do have a land line and DSL Internet. I am wondering if this will work as I don’t keep my computer on all day.
While working on my Master’s degree, I found soft Native American music worked best for me. I also “glued my butt to the seat’ until I finished a paper.
As long as your clients know what to expect, it should be fine. I would advise, though, keeping your computer on at least during the afternoon and evening, especially if you want to build a client base. You may need to make changes to how you normally do things 🙂
I have to have as much quiet as possible when I’m working. This means no TV, no music, nothing. A slight bit of white noise does help me in blocking out certain distractions of life as I know it but there is still too much of a good thing. Maybe I’m overly sensitive to music and sound in general but I cannot work effectively with background noise, not even classical music. Yes, I’m a weirdo but I know what works for me and what doesn’t! I’ve chosen to embrace my uniqueness 🙂
Much like Elizabeth, I also reside in a rural location without dependable cell service. I have a land line and DSL connection. My cell is a smart phone and I’ve enabled email notifications so that I can receive those important things without having to sit at my computer all day. I utilize my wi-fi at home for my cell phone without burning through my data each month. There are a lot of plans out there and plenty of carriers offering unlimited everything at $xx.xx per month. If you are already paying for cell service, it’s certainly worth bumping up to a smart phone for a few dollars more and be able to get those notifications right away.
Because of where I live, most people say job opportunities are limited but I say no so! I love working at/from home but will add that it takes real effort to remain focused on any work related task and not being tempted to do that last load of laundry. I keep an imaginary time clock for the days I set aside to work from home. I schedule myself a morning & mid-afternoon break, plus a small lunch break. Then I can choose what’s really more important. Laundry never wins! LOL
I MUST have background noise to concentrate. When I was working on my Masters degree my go-to was The Big Bang Theory DVDs.
I prefer working at home so I am looking forward to getting going with the program.
Hi, Racheil!! I too must have sound, but I’m weird in that I wear the earbuds (not noise-cancelling as these sometimes produce their own little sound) but the other ones that block out sounds, and I sit outside. Something about sitting outside (in all that noise) enables me to focus like nobody’s business! I found the same thing to be true when doing homework late at night in high school. The radio was blasting music through my headphones and I became a focus/concentration superstudent! 🙂
I love listening to all those nursery rhymes online as I work. They are so relaxing and uplifting. And when one gets too nostalgic, I sing along and then continue with work after the 2-minute break.
Love that!! No such thing as too nostalgic 😉
I find that I can concentrate better and read about twice as fast if I am on a treadmill or recumbent bike at the gym. I believe there is research material showing that hip movement increases learning ability. They use this method and teach individuals with learning and physical disabilities while riding on horses. 🙂
Nice!! I like that. Not to mention — any reason I can get to move my hips, I’m in 😉
Cool! The office desks that allow you to stand while working made me think of the treadmill too, and I also used to read books sometimes during my morning walks without tripping, but I had to alternate hands to hold the book, so that fizzled out. Do you have any suggestions on what I can use to support the device I’m using to read?
I sure do!! Check this out: http://amzn.to/29QZIu6
Thanks, Caitlin! I will be ordering mine soon!
When I was attending online college, I had to teach myself to manage my time. It took a while but I finally figure it out. I would use my I-pod to block all the noise around me. Just you mentioned. And my family already knew that when I had my earphones on they knew not to bother me. Especially when I had to write my paper which had to be done by Monday. After the first year, everything else fell into place. I would take my breaks, and the good thing about being an online student was that I can be join my class at any time.
I definitely agree with the timer! I constantly have to remind myself that I am not superwoman and need limits myself. Otherwise self-care goes down the drain. When this happens, I tend to binge Friends episodes by the dozens!
Oh and how cute is Jessica Smith’s dog next to her 🙂
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Suzanne Bowen and Jessica Smith! I was introduced to them through the 10 Minute Solutions workouts, and they are so good at maximizing the short amount of time. If you enjoy Pilates and yoga, I’d recommend Lara Hudson – she’s also great!
Lara is awesome, too! I have one of her 10 Minute Solutions DVDs. And you are right, these ladies can pack it in! I am always sweating (sometimes swearing ;-)) 5-10 minutes in!
Caitlyn, I am on day 3 of your free introductory course and am impressed with your comprehensive approach. Although the emails are brief, the multiple links to additional information provides a broad expanse of information. I have worked from home for many years, off and on. One thing that I think is crucial for doing that successfully, aside from the tips you provided, is to find work that brings out your passion. When I am working on a project I truly enjoy, the outside world melts away, and I am submersed in my thoughts and work. It’s still hard work, but gratifying throughout the process.
I totally agree. Doing what you love is a reward all its own — getting paid to do what you love is even better! 🙂
So, Carolyn, you posted this in February. Now it’s August. Did you move forward with the program and if so, how are you doing with it?
Thank you Caitlyn, I truly enjoyed the read. I’m going to try these methods and see if I can stay more focused at tasks.
I was wondering if there are ways of staying focused when one has a cold and a pretty important deadline to meet.
Good question!! Depends on how bad the cold is 🙂 DayQuil usually helps me feel more like myself. When I just can’t focus, though, it’s usually a sign I need to just chill … and possibly take a nap 🙂
When I worked as a technical writer, I trained myself to concentrate for hours at a time, and to block out all activity around my cube. There were days that I missed lunch because I was unaware of the time, or everyone had left for the day without me noticing. So, I know I have the ability to stay focused for long periods of time, but I am concerned about the distractions I will face at home, like my husband, his tv watching, him trying to talk to me, etc.
It can be difficult if you’re not used to a home environment, but it isn’t hard to recondition yourself to do just what you did at your previous job at home. If you can find a room that you can hide away in and do your work, you should be fine. Headphones with some soft instrumental music or background noise really helps. 🙂
My family and I have a “code” for when they can interrupt me and when they shouldn’t. If I’m wearing my headphones, don’t interrupt unless it involves blood, broken bones, or seizures. No headphones, ok.
Oh, husbands!! I have this thing about being most focused at night after everything is done and my kid is asleep. Unfortunately, I cannot take advantage of it because hubby wants to talk and watch TV and he gets really annoyed if I tell him I have to work on something. It’s like having another kid!!
I also need background noise to focus! If I’m in a room that is completely silent, my mind will wander off to distant places. When I’m at home, I’ll go to my living room where there is a lot of natural light and open the window. That way I can hear the sound of the cars, the birds, etc. However, sometimes that’s still not enough. When I really need to be efficient with my time I go to my university’s student learning center (even though I’m not a student anymore). There’s tons of light there and people moving and making background noise, yet I still get a small private space of my own. Believe it or not, I’m most efficient there.
Ahh I loved the little corners of great work space at my university’s library, too 😀 I totally get it. And yes, sometimes a husband is like a kid, haha 😀
I find that it really depends on my mood whether or not I need background noise to focus. Definitely during the day, since I always have 4 kids running around making noise! My biggest challenge to focusing is those 4 kids; we homeschool, so they are ALWAYS around, and the youngest ones are not great at not interrupting me, even when I tell them I can’t be interrupted. I guess the first thing for me to do will be to train them better at that. Do you think that working in 1/2 hour and 1 hour increments can be effective for this type of proofreading? Early morning/late evening while kids are sleeping would be ideal, but I am dead tired at those times, so I’m not sure how well that would work.
Hi, Lia! I have been a medical transcriptionist for about 16 years, and I find that taking 8- to 10-minute breaks after each hour really keeps me steady. During those breaks, I make sure I am doing something totally unlike sitting and typing, and I am surprised at how much I actually get done outside of work with these breaks. They have made work seem like the dessert.
The way I focus is to play Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man. It’s just 4 songs but they keep me focused. As far as focusing in my life, I am very active in my local church. As far as the workout, I will do that
I work best when my living space is in order. If the kitchen is a mess or the laundry hamper full it nags at the back of my mind while I’m trying to work on other things. If they are bothering me I try to blitz them- especially the quick things like throwing the laundry in the washing machine- so that I can have a mind that’s free of clutter.
After 14 years of transcription work at home, I rely on noise-canceling headphones. I work early mornings best but if I have to work later in the day I do take a nap first. Then my mind is fresh and I can plow through a lot of work! Love all the comments!
I was previously a medical transcriptionist and found that I could get into the “zone” by having a cup of strong coffee and playing soft classical music. Also, depending on what discipline of medicine it was, the longer I could type without a break (like psychiatry as opposed to podiatry).
FYI, the link in “trying this Five-Minute Journal.” is 404ing.
Thanks for letting us know!
I found another dead link “how smart it is to stay plugged in in this business”
Thanks, Tarin! We’ve removed it.
Try this one 🙂 https://proofreadanywhere.com/recommends/five-minute-journal
Thanks for all the tips and comments. I love getting practical advice from people who are having success before I start something new. I want to start out with good habits so I can be successful too!
Distractions are the Bain of our existence! I’ve had a harder time since our daughter moved back home and I had to move my office to the kitchen. Here’s some of my ideas.
Put in a doggy door for the critters. Then they can come and go as they please. Mine need a scratch or two periodically but that’s good for both of us.
I work early in the morning on transcription (5 to 7 am) then shower and head to my day job. Sometimes I work in the evening too.
To keep my sanity I sing in one choir and play for another.
Husband is good at reminding me that I’m not typing. But he has his own at home job..quilting. He knows that when the headset is on, he needs to keep the distraction to a minimum.
These are awesome!!!
Walk the dog or run for a couple of miles, relieves the stress and helps me to focus.
hi i am desire to be proof reader
You can sign up here for the free intro course. 🙂
I read in an article to batch tasks and set a timer for 48 minutes to focus on one task. I do that frequently throughout the day and get up and walk around for a few minutes every time the timer goes off. It helps me to focus if I know I’m going to get a little break after 48 minutes, or just in knowing that a timer is going to mark my task time complete in 48 minutes. I don’t know what the theory is behind 48, but I’ve always appreciated off numbers 🙂
I have heard differing amounts of time from different sources, but the general idea remains the same. We need breaks to stay sharp and focused! So I would think whatever length of time works for you, go for it! 🙂
I agree that taking breaks is helpful with production and especially quality. It’s easy to get into “robot” mode when trying to complete a long task, and I imagine this would be especially true if I were working on a transcript that was rather dull. It would be easy to get into an automatic mode where you’re reading words and not considering the context, thereby missing spelling and punctuation errors. I think a short break lets you disconnect and come back reset, no longer just going through the motions.
I agree, Sheila! It’s always best to take breaks and return refreshed. 🙂
I have been working from home for over 20 years. My usual routine is: First thing, I pray, then shower and get ready for the day. Eat a good breakfast, which includes a cup of strong coffee. Walk into my office, turn on the computer. First hour and a half, I answer voice
mails, emails, and text messages. Exercise for twenty minutes, then get into the car and show houses.
I take a “comfort” break every hour / hour and a half and just step outside – give my eyes a rest for about five minutes. When I get back into reading I find that I go back into fully concentrated mode.
I also ensure that my dogs are not in and out while I am working as this does cause an unnecessary distraction. My cat though – she sits on her own chair next to me and just has a very calming effect as she will just sit or lie there ensuring that I do what I am supposed to be doing 🙂
That’s a great tip, Elsie! 🙂
How could you put the non-word “alright” in your post?? I know I’m fighting a losing battle with this one, but I refuse to accept that as a word. It is no more a word than “alwrong,” and people who know proper spelling and grammar should especially avoid encouraging the use of such a distortion of “all right.” It’s every bit as bad as using “alot” instead of “a lot.”
Because “alright” is commonly used in written dialogue and informal writing. A blog is quite informal 🙂 My courses are not.
This Merriam-Webster entry explains more: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alright
Caitlin there are two things I do if I need to focus. One is to put on my noise canceling headphones and play nature sounds. I love the sound of rain and thunder. This is very soothing to me when I am reading! Secondly, when I need peace and quiet at home, I simply turn off the TV. It is very distracting when I am trying to focus on what I need to do.
I am waiting for my next paycheck on August 31 to begin your full course. In the meantime, I will finish your introductory classes and read your suggested books. Anything else I can do until payday?
Hi, Rebecca! Glad to hear you will be joining us! I recommend you also check out the “Blog” posts on proofreadanywhere.com. 🙂
I love how these are
your run-of-the-mill ideas!
I especially love the timer idea
and the journal lead, thank u 🙂
(hadn’t heard of Intelligent Change yet
so just opened up their site to check them out…)
Thx again for yet another thorough, thoughtful post!
I can definitely relate to a bit of what you mentioned here. When I get super focused I forget to eat and it’s something I have to continually work on. I have also found that when exercise and movement in general is a part of my life, things tend to go a bit smoother. It brings a sense of grounding and accomplishment. I do not journal much but I do practice mindfulness in as many moments of life as I can so it doesn’t feel taken for granted or like it’s slipping away.
My former medical transcription work was always done from home remotely, so I am used to carving out the time for it and dealing with distractions, and I suspect proofreading will require at least the same amount of focus and most likely even more, so I think I'm up to the challenge. I have learned to focus on life by shutting off my work when it is complete and am as disciplined with that as I am in focusing on work when it is time to work. I haven't done the walk yet, but I will shortly. I used to do short 15-minute walks on breaks I scheduled after 2-3 hours of work to get a second wind.
That’s great, Jody!! Thanks for commenting. I still do these workouts on a near-daily basis. You’re 100% right that proofreading will require focus just like MT work. Being able to switch from work to other things without letting it totally consume your life is a skill I am still working on mastering, ha!! 🙂
Considering my work requires standing for 12 hours a day I focus better when I get to sit. I focus on the more positive things in my immediate surroundings and block out the negative. I believe if you focus on the negative aspects of the day life will pass you by rather quickly. I walk at work all day so I believe I have that covered.
That’s awesome, Andrew — you get lots of exercise every day which is great for your mind 🙂
If I stop and take a little walk, or do something outdoors for 15-20 minutes I feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. Focus can be a challenge some days, I use the sound of rain falling in the "Calm" app. Honestly, sometimes it makes me fall asleep but never for very long. Meditating helps, but I need to brush up on that skill. I think I will try some of your suggestions. I have always wanted to try stretching and yoga to start my day.
I also like to have earbuds in to concentrate. Stretching is also something I do to refocus when I feel I need a break.
Thank you so much for all of this information! I have an app on my android that has the sounds for free called "Sleep Sounds". It has everything from nature to brown noise. I never thought of using it for focus!
My mother has taught me a lot about nutrition and supplements so I will research TruBrain. I am in the midst of moving so all of this will help with the stress as well.
Thank you so much!
I go for a walk every morning, and that does it for me. There is nothing as nice as the fresh air I inhale. Freshens up the whole body.
Love all the tips, thank you. My environment is very quiet and I don't like things in or on my ears. I read a lot, and always have, so ut's quite easy for me to block out evrything and just focus on what I'm reading.
Meditation sets my day. And being present in the moment as the day progresses. Breathing exercises also help me focus.
Yes, I did the 20-minute walk.
Meditation focuses me each morning. Being consciously present in every moment as I go through the day, as well as taking breathing breaks.
I'm walking starting tomorrow! I knew that I should exercise, but it was just academic. My brain just put it back there as something to know. But the exam showed how necessary it is to maintain focus. So, here I go!
I take time out of my day to 'ground' it's usually mid-morning and mid-afternoon, I walk outside, and take my shoes off, and let my feet feel the earth. And I just sit there and listen and soak up the sun for 10 to 15mins.
Thanks for all the tips. I find walking every day helps to clear my mind and allows me to focus on my work.
I found the 5-minute journal a few years back. It really is amazing to help you put things in perspective and start the day out right! 🙂
Thank you for all of these suggestions. I am doing several of them already. 🙂
I appreciate all of the information you are providing and looking forward to learning more!
I WFH and have a specific area designated for work. I get dressed and ready as if I am still going to my office, and I (mostly) work regular 8-5 hours with a designated lunch break. The TV stays off during the day, and this routine keeps me focused and in an uber-productive mindset during the business day.
I'm exploring this path specifically to address my desire for more work/life balance.
I didn’t do the walk; it’s almost midnight and it’s been a LONG day!
While I appreciate the upbeat, positive input, I am trying to learn how to proofread professionally. I am at class three and have not had an actual lesson. We all need to know HOW to mark up pages of text. Is this done with a red pencil and then mailed out, or do you CORRECT the pages and e-mail them out? What are the icons to use for using a word incorrectly, etc?
Is this all done with Grammarly or Word? I need the basics.
Hi Alice, the course contains tutorials about the different methods and software used to annotate documents.
I did the 20-minute walk with my wife at a nearby park. I wake up to a prayer journal and a "Read Scripture" app.
I'm not a fast reader, so I'll take jobs that enable me to go at my own pace to do the best they can get. You're saying that the usual transcript only gives you 2 days to proofread? That could be challenging. But I don't have too many other things to do right now. And, if necessary, I can ask my wife, who also stays home all-day, to handle some chores so I can do the required work.
May God bless you, Caitlin and others who read your emails.
I focus by retreating to a secluded place that is free from distractions. I also stand while I work to help with posture.
Great information! Thank you!
I write in my Gratitude Journal every night. I write the 5 things that I am grateful for. It sits on my nightstand, waiting for me, every night.
I also have a white board with each day on the left so I can write down what I'm going to do that day. Then on the right are Goals, To Do, and Notes. Where I mark down what I'm going to do that week. It's really helpful to stay organized.
I keep myself focused by putting all my things i need near me and turning all things off which can distract me in anyway. I keep myself in an environment where I'm comfortable and also chose a perfect time when i can do my work without any noise and distraction.
Each evening in my planner I make my list of “Daily” – those projects or activities that are important to devote time to in an ongoing way. Below that is the list called “Other.” These are not ongoing projects or activities, but things that need to be done and then checked off. Reviewing these lists after my morning quiet time gives me focus and then I jump in and get going. I journal daily. I didn’t do the 20-minute run because I did a 20-minute Qigong routine.
Learning to say "NO!" and mean it to people who think, just because you work from home, you can watch their kids, do their errands, 100 other things. After all, you are home. Amazing how pissed off they get when you won't do their crap.
A few things help me stay focused while working. I love music, however lyrics keep me wrapped up in my head so I opt for instrumentals, mostly classical. I do not like sitting all day so I raise my work station (I just use boxes) or I work at the kitchen counter.
My life focus gets away from me sometimes. When I do take time to reflect, I count my blessings, pray, and make mental notes of what made a day good or bad.
Yes, I did the 20 minute walk! It really got the blood flowing! Felt good to just move.