[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.
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! 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.
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 this, 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. 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.
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 mine 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!