People who own home-based businesses can face a unique set of challenges when it comes to time management. If you work from home, it’s imperative that you remain organized and on a set schedule — free from distractions — even more than the average traditional office worker. At-home offices can be subject to some very at-home distractions, like family, pets, TV, and a big, comfortable sofa that seems to call your name! Here are some great tips we came up with to help you stay on track and be even more productive in your business!
Dress the part. When you work from home and find yourself with a day that doesn’t require an outing, it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas or keep it super-casual. By taking care to dress the way you would if you had an outside appointment (in say, business-casual attire) you, in fact, feel more businesslike and will be more mentally equipped to tackle your day in a professional tone.
Customize your environment. You’ll work better in an environment that’s comfortable but primed for productivity. Proper seating, an organized and clean workspace, and a bit of privacy are a must. Consider adjusting your lighting as well – some people work well with overhead light; others find it more soothing to rely on natural light. Don’t be afraid to use soothing, instrumental music to drown out background noise, or fix yourself a cup of tea to relax your mood. It’s not working easier – it’s working smarter!
5 minute rule. Take 5 minutes before and after every task, appointment or phone call to assess how things went. Did you achieve the results you wanted? Did you accomplish everything you intended? If not, decide how you can remedy that in the future and avoid making similar mistakes, which can bog down your business and be an overall time-suck.
Know thyself. The good part about working from home is getting to set what hours work best for you. And only you know when you’re most productive: early morning, midday or evening. Whatever time you feel most alert is the best time to take on your biggest or most time-consuming projects. It’s different for everyone, so if you feel the brightest at 7 am or 7 pm, plan your day accordingly. You’ll thank yourself later.
Plan for distractions. Working from home can mean distractions, from a ringing doorbell to a sick child to a spouse stranded with a flat tire. A good way to account for this is to set aside a specific time in your schedule every day as “office hours.” (Teachers wisely use this method.) It literally becomes a time you designate to be distracted. If no such distractions arise, use the time to get caught up on small projects or answer emails. If a surprise does comes up that needs your attention, you wisely planned on it, and still are able to get in a solid workday.
Reward yourself! When you accomplish 5 things on your To-Do list, or have finished a big project, reward yourself with a short break. Surf the net, walk on a treadmill, turn on the news, or take a cat nap. You earned it! Set an alarm on your phone or use an egg timer to make sure you don’t exceed your allotted time. This will help even further in keeping you on track.