Working from home is difficult at best. It’s so easy to step away from your computer to run “just one load of laundry” or wash “just a couple dishes”, only to find yourself three hours later reorganizing your sock drawer and letting your work pile up in the background. However, for those of us who are combating brain fog, working at home can be especially difficult.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a symptom of many chronic or acute health conditions. It can also be a side effect of medications, or even a result of natural processes such as pregnancy or menopause. You might even experience brain fog if you’re overtired, over-hungry, or over-stressed.
Brain fog can manifest as a feeling of confusion, clouded thinking, disorientation, or even fatigue and exhaustion. You might also struggle with memory or keeping your focus. All of these symptoms can make working from home, where distractions abound and sticking to a routine can be tricky.
The Work-at-Home Problem
Working at home is, in many ways, very helpful for those experiencing the types of chronic illnesses that might induce brain fog. As I wrote about last week in my post about entrepreneurship and chronic illness, working from home allows your to maintain a lower stress environment and to keep a more flexible schedule. However, combating brain fog can put a damper on your productivity, especially if you are working from home.
If you are a work-from-home entrepreneur who is combating brain fog, you might have more severe problems with motivation and task initiation than a person without brain fog. The allure of distractions may also prove more powerful to you. It may be harder for you to focus on your work, and procrastination might be more tempting (or possible) than if you worked in an office.
Motivation, task initiation, distraction, keeping focus, and procrastination are difficult for most people, regardless of if they work from home or not. Brain fog can make these typical struggles even more challenging. Because of this, combating brain fog can adversely effect your workflow and the overall health and success of your business.
Combating Brain For for Work-at-Home Entrepreneurs
Keeping a strong routine can bolster your productivity and help you stay on track. Try to work at similar times every day and from the same place in your house. If there are days that you work outside the house — maybe from a local cafe or coworking office — try to schedule them in advance and keep that schedule consistent from week to week. You can always be flexible if you’re experiencing an illness flare-up — or if you have special plans! — but remember that too much chaos will make it even harder for you to focus.
If you’re struggling with task initiation, try to identify what your barriers are. Are you waiting for the “perfect” time to do something, or putting off a task until you can batch it with other similar tasks? While batching can be an effective method of time management, sometimes it feels less overwhelming to just do the most pressing task and save the rest for later. Once you identify what your barrier is, you can identify how to break it down.
Be honest with your clients and coworkers. While it is important to maintain professional boundaries, remember that the people you work with are also human. They will often understand the occasional mistake or misstep that your brain fog may cause, as long as you are upfront with them.
Hold yourself to high standards. If you are combating brain fog, you are at a disadvantage when it comes to business success. That means that you may have to work harder than the average person to achieve comparable success. My standpoint on chronic illness is that is absolutely doesn’t have to cap my potential. It just means I have to work harder (and smarter!) to reach the results I want.
Which brings me to my next point… Work smart!
The bottom line with combating brain fog as a work-at-home entrepreneur — or as any professional! — is that you have to hack your workday in ways that work for your particular symptoms.
Come up with a list of the ways your brain fog negatively impacts your work. This will help you get a full picture of the situation and identify where you may need to make changes.
Then brainstorm how you can hack your workday to negate those negative effects. You might include case-by-case solutions, such as using barrier identification to combat poor task initiation. You might also include systemic solutions, such as centering your workday around the times of day that your brain fog is less severe.
The Bottom Line
Brain fog can be a symptom of many conditions, be they chronic, acute, or natural. It can be a significant barrier to business success, but it doesn’t have to cap your achievement.
I experience brain fog on a daily basis. I also run a successful business that has allowed me to move across the country and support myself without ever having to step foot in an office. My business is growing every month and I don’t intend on letting brain fog impede that growth at all!
Do you experience brain fog? If you do, what are you already doing to combat it? What will you take from this article to improve your day-to-day productivity?
More resources on brain fog: