Implementing just one of these tactics will help add more time to your day. Implementing all of these tricks will maximize the amount of time you have to get things done. You’ll either get more accomplished every day, or reach the end of your to-do list with time to spare, that you can use however you want. You’ll find yourself much less stressed, and looking forward to work.
NIGHTLY TO-DO LIST
At the end of your day, make a to-do list for the next day. This will help you focus your attention on what needs to be done when you look at it tomorrow. In addition, it helps clear your mind so you can get a deeper, more restful sleep. With deeper and more restful sleep, you will have more energy to work with the next day.
Work on the tasks you dread the most, first. With those out of the way, you’ll feel more accomplished, and moving through the rest of your day will be easier. As you prioritize the dreaded tasks, work on what is due first.
While most of your clients will give you deadlines, it is always a good habit to make your own deadline ahead of the client’s. This way you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule. If the project is due on Friday, give yourself a Thursday deadline. Getting things done early is better than having something happen on Thursday that prevents you from getting the project done by the real Friday deadline. When it comes to things you need to do for your business that aren’t assigned by clients, make your own deadlines. For example, if you want to increase your client base, set a deadline to have X number of clients, and work for it. You’ll be more productive when you have a deadline, too.
DON’T OVERLOAD YOURSELF
It’s easy to overload yourself when you work as your own boss. Whether it is because you need the money, or you underestimate the amount of time the projects on your plate will take you to complete, there is always a chance you will overbook yourself. It is important to remember that you are only one person, and as a small business owner, you are already playing several roles. You should not have to do the work of 20. You’re bound to overload yourself from time to time, and there is nothing wrong with working your butt off to get everything done to reach the deadlines and keep the clients happy, as long as that’s not what you are doing all the time.
If you are constantly overloaded, you’re going to burn out. And when you burn out, you won’t be as productivity. You will dread work, and because you dread it, will not likely get as much done as you would if you were not stressed out. If you find yourself overloaded, slowly cut back your work. Schedule more time for fewer projects. If money becomes an issue, it may be time to increase your rates.
One of the hardest obstacles in working from home is learning how to set clear boundaries between work and home, or work time and play time. People who work outside the home can easily leave their work at work, because they clock out and leave every day. When you work at home, it’s not easy to do. In order to be successful, you need clear boundaries and rules to follow. What works for you may not work for others, but regardless of what the boundaries are, they need to be followed closely. Without these boundaries, your personal and professional life could suffer. It’s easy to want to work right through the weekend or right through holidays.
In certain circumstances, this may be necessary, but it should never be a regular habit. Weekends and holidays should be reserved for family time, and if you must work, increase your rates. Wouldn’t an on call technician charge more to fix your air conditioning system after hours or on the weekend? Yes, and you should, too! Don’t work where you play, and don’t play where you work. While the fact that you can work wherever and whenever is enticing, it blurs the lines you are attempting to set. As awesome as it may sound, don’t work from your laptop in bed. Your bed is for sleep and relaxation, and it should remain that way. You’ll be less productive because you’re tempted to take a nap, or to watch your favorite show on television.
SET “WORK HOURS”
While you do have the freedom to make your own schedule, and change that schedule as necessary based on your current work and family demands, try to set work hours. For someone who has a child in school, these hours could be 7am to 3pm. This gives you an uninterrupted time to work. For someone who has young children in the home and a day full of interruptions, it may make
sense to work from 8 pm until 2am, leaving a bit of time for sleep before the children wake for the day. Whatever your work hours may be, don’t be tempted to clean house or run errands during your work hours. If you had a traditional job, you wouldn’t be home to wash dishes, do laundry, or sweep the floors. Those things can wait until after work, whether you work in the home or outside it.
LEAVE EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA ALONE
For most self-employed people who work from home, email and social media are critical parts of the business. However, they can be tremendous time suckers. You should schedule time to check and reply to your email and address your social media presence. Close out the email and social media tabs whenever you’re working on a project. If you must have social media open during a project because it is related, turn off your chat functions, so you at least appear to be offline. Commit to checking your email and social media only at the predetermined times on your schedule. Save all personal social media activities for your personal time when you
are “off the clock.”
If you have a task you need done, but aren’t exactly a professional, don’t be afraid to outsource it. For example, a web designer who is skilled at coding and basic graphic design may be asked to write the website content. Instead of spending hours agonizing over the keyword research and the best way to present the content, it may be better to outsource the writing to a seasoned freelancer. Yes, it requires spending money, but in the time you would have spent working on the content, you could easily move onto another project and make more money than you pay out to the person you hire, and save yourself hours of frustration in the process. There are many different marketplaces online to help you find qualified freelancers for nearly any task. Whether you need: content, web design, web development, graphic design, search engine optimization, marketing, advertising, accounting, or any number of other things, you can find a qualified professional to help you. Check places such as: