The ability to run a business from home is very appealing to many people. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics nearly 6 million are self-employed from home and enjoy the convenience of commuting down the hall versus spending time in traffic jams.
As a mother of two, I have appreciated working from home for nearly twenty years. One of the misconceptions many have about working from home is that time will be more plentiful. Unfortunately, one doesn’t get more time in their day just because they are working from home. If anything, it requires a new set of time management skills in order to stay focused on a business.
If we had to purchase our time, would we value it differently? And what if we were rewarded extra time each day if we made good use of our allotted time? Unfortunately, neither of these scenarios is possible but we should still be motivated to make the best use of our time while working from home. After all, time is an inventory. How we choose to use it affects how we feel at the end of the day, and how successful we are at accomplishing the things that are most important to us.
Here are 15 time management tips in the areas of email, paper, computers and To-Do Lists.
- Separate personal from work when it comes to email addresses and phone numbers. Have a separate email address for each. Avoid taking personal phone calls or checking your personal email while focusing on your business.
- Don’t email or write when a phone call will do. And when you make the call, keep it brief – discuss the business up front. Stay focused on the purpose of the call.
- Have two TO DO LISTS – one for work and one for home. Set priorities according to importance, not urgency.
- Limit your TO DO List to a realistic number of items. One business owner I interviewed said she creates a daily Magic Six List. She’s discovered she can accomplish six items in a day, considering the type of interruptions she faces.
- Schedule larger projects on your calendar. When you begin doing this, you have a visual indicator of just how much time you are left with.
- Create forms for information you repeatedly gather from clients and potential clients. This may be in paper form or a Word document template. I have two paper forms I repeatedly use in my business – one is hot pink and one is gold – they each represent a specific type of project.
- Say “no” more often. Have as much respect for your own time as you have for other people’s time.
- Spend 1-2 days planning each year what your goals are. Putting them on paper will bring you one step closer to acting on them.
- Avoid Multi-tasking – According to a University of Michigan research study, multi-tasking lowers productivity 20-40 percent. Choose a task and focus on it.
- Make minor decisions QUICKLY.
- If you’re in charge of a meeting, issue an Agenda beforehand, begin on time assigning someone as a time keeper to keep things flowing and finish on time. Don’t wait for late comers.
- Use checklists to make sure you have everything you need for meetings, sales calls or presentations.
- Use a follow-up file to hold paperwork relating to scheduled tasks.
- Don’t keep magazines lying around. Tear out important articles, scan them and save them on your hard drive.
- Find the best time of day for follow up calls. Don’t do anything else during that time. If you find yourself procrastinating on this task, ask yourself “What am I trying to avoid?”
Most people own a personal computer. This is the one piece of equipment that probably holds the greatest potential in helping you manage your time most efficiently. Become best friends with your computer. It will allow you to manage databases, lists, contacts, etc. Thanks to today’s technology you can keep in touch with more customers in less time.