When you work from home, there are always going to be things that distract you and pull your attention in many other directions, so it’s essential to have good time management habits.
If your home is like mine, the phone is always ringing, people are coming and going at all different hours, meals need to be made for the family, errands and grocery shopping need to get done, and then there is business and personal email waiting for your attention.
How can you manage your time in this often chaotic environment?
Email can be a huge time waster. How many times have you taken a few minutes to check your email, and the next thing you know an hour or more has flown by? This is a classic example of a time waster and how it can rob you of your precious work time.
It’s almost a given that you are going to need to use email to conduct your business. There are ways to keep yourself from getting distracted by personal emails during the day.
Consider creating a separate email account for business that is different from your personal email. This will also help you keep your inbox organized because you won’t have business and personal email mixed in together.
Don’t check your personal email during working hours. Set specific times during the day for checking your business email, with a time limit, and stick to that schedule. You might decide on twice a day for 30 minutes, or three times a day for 15 minutes. You will find a big difference in your productivity when you are not checking your email all day long.
Surfing the Internet
How much time do you waste surfing the internet? You might google the answer to a question or look for a business statistic, and then find you have spent two hours reading about pink dolphins in the Amazon River or the latest celebrity news. When you need to find information on the internet, stay focused, set a time limit, and set a timer to help you stay on track. If you haven’t found the information you need when the timer goes off, decide how important this information is and if you need to continue spending your time looking for it.
Be careful with social media. Like email and surfing the internet, you can end up wasting hours and not getting any work done. If you are using social media in your business, block off a set time for it in your schedule and set your timer. Make sure you know exactly what you need to get accomplished in that timeframe and do only those things.
Group Activities Together
One of the easiest ways to manage your time is to group activities together. You could schedule most of your calls and conference calls to be done on one particular day. Then you always know you’re busy on that day and you won’t schedule other activities or appointments.
Planning and Reminders
Each month, make a list of things that you want to accomplish or focus on that month. Use that list each week to help you break down how you are going to spend your time and what you are going to allocate to be done on certain days. You will find this allows you to get a lot more done and you will reach your goals more quickly.
To make sure you don’t forget a conference call or a scheduled call with a client or customer, highlight it in your day planner, add it to your Outlook or Google calendar with a reminder and, if necessary, write yourself a Post It note and leave it somewhere in the house that it will get your attention.
When you’re an entrepreneur working from home, you’re the only person you can count on to keep yourself productive and on schedule. Time management is an essential key to a successful home business. If you stay aware of what you’re spending time on during your working hours, you can avoid falling into the time waster trap. Be critical of how you spend your time, and only do things that contribute to the growth of your business.