One of the great things about being your own boss is that you can determine your own pace and schedule. But individuals who are working from home for the first time often find themselves facing obstacles that they wouldn’t encounter when working at someone else’s company.
In particular, as a home-based businessperson, you may feel overwhelmed when contemplating the tasks ahead of you every day. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs in your situation to realize that there just isn’t enough time to get everything done that they set out to complete.
But the problem may not be a lack of time so much as a lack of preparation. The idea is that if you manage to make more efficient use of your work hours, you’ll be able to accomplish the high-priority tasks on your to-do list.
With that in mind, here are four tricks to help you work more productively from home.
4 Tips to Help You Work Productively From Home
1. Set Where Your Time Needs to Be
Running your own business from the same building as where your family lives can get complicated, especially when you don’t establish clear boundaries between work and home. It can be tricky to maintain a realistic work/life balance, to be sure.
Assuming you’ve already established a separate work space, such as a home office or an assembly line and storage setup in your garage-based business, make it clear to your family and visitors what your working hours are. That way, they won’t be confused about when it’s appropriate to make a demand on your time.
It can be as simple as posting hours on the outside of your office door, which ideally you will keep closed when working, unless this is not a practical option for your household. But establishing a clear schedule with your family can help ensure that they respect your time at work and will know when you will be available, outside of emergencies.
When raising a family at the same time as running your company, your schedule will likely be more fluid than that of a traditional business. For example, you might be working around the sleeping schedule of your baby. During naptime, you take care of conference calls or intensive work that requires the most focus.
Or, you are responsible for caring for an elderly member of your family, and the nuts and bolts of keeping your business running take place in between trips to the doctor. As long as you devise a schedule (even if it keeps changing week to week), you’ll have a better chance of maintaining a harmonious balance between work and the time when you are completely off the clock.
2. Share Your Calendar With Your Partner
A calendar that’s imprisoned in paper doesn’t do you much good when you’re out and about, only to realize your schedule is on the wall above your computer monitor. Naturally, most savvy business owners rely on some kind of a calendar that they access and update using their smartphone.
To work more productively, it makes sense to share your calendar with your partner. And rather than getting bogged down with software that works on just one platform, consider using a calendar sharing app that works on both Android and Apple, such as Google Calendar.
Now, when you update your calendar, such as to include details about a last-minute minute meeting, your partner will not be surprised because the notification will appear immediately. You can also see at a glance when your partner and you will both be available later in the week to make a presentation to a new client, and so on, all because of the efficiencies that come with using a shared calendar on your mobile device.
3. Learn to Say No (Nicely)
While it’s important to be positive in business, there are definitely times when it’s best to say “No.” Of course, you’ll want to reply in the negative in the nicest possible way whenever you need to rebuff a request for your time.
For example, let’s say you are running a business out of your garage and are assembling boxes to fulfill the latest batch of orders. The items must be ready by the time your delivery service arrives at 5 p.m. and you have hours to go before everything is packed.
But you happen to have a neighbor with only the vaguest understanding that you work at home. There’s nothing so time-draining as a well-meaning neighbor who wants to come over and hang out, assuming that because you work from home, you can indulge in casual conversation.
Even worse is when a neighbor assumes that you are available to baby-sit her child at the drop of a hat, while she runs out to do some errands in town. She doesn’t realize you have clients to attend to and spreadsheets to fill in before your afternoon conference call!
Smile and inform neighbors who drop by unannounced that you are actually working now but would love to catch up over the weekend, such as when you are going to be outside gardening.
The same goes for personal phone calls. Some people are not as busy as you and will not realize that you simply don’t have time to chitchat. You might want to start screening your calls to avoid such interruptions. Or, when personal calls come in, answer that you only have a minute to talk because you are about to begin a conference call with clients.
4. Set a Finish Time
It might change daily depending on your timetable, but set a finish time to ensure you switch off and transition into family/personal time. When you have a definite finish time on your schedule, it tends to help you concentrate on the most pressing tasks.
You’ll also have a sense of anticipation as the clock nears closer to quitting time, which is a powerful motivator to work more efficiently. Many business owners become proud of how well they are able to begin their day with a clear list of goals and then accomplish their tasks with enough time to unwind after hours with friends or family.
We understand how running a home business can start to feel overwhelming for people, especially when you are first starting out and are still building up your support network. For help in keeping your efforts on track, click here to download our free printable to-do lists to get organized for work.