Implementing a few minor time-management strategies into your day can make all the difference in many areas of your life. Most importantly your productivity, hence income, will increase. Stress levels will decrease as your organisation improves. You will find you have “more hours in the day”, because you will be completing tasks in a more organised fashion, you will spend more time on the things and people you love, and the list goes on. Now, before you tune out …. I’m not suggesting you MUST stick to a set routine each day, starting work at the same time each morning etc., I mean what would be the point of “being your own boss”? What I am suggesting is to FINE-TUNE YOUR DAY, so you get more out of it.
I’m sure we have all wished at some time or another that we could find the magic formula for the ultimate time-management plan. The reality is time management ideas are as vast as there are people on this earth, different techniques work for different people. With a few simple strategies we can all benefit enormously, there is no need to obsess over it, though. I think that ruins the whole working-from-home experience. So let’s just stick to a few simple ideas that you can easily implement.
What you must remember is that working from home is quite different to working in a mainstream j-o-b (I’ve heard it stands for just-over-broke), hence your time-management strategies are not going to be the same as when you were employed. Being your own boss should allow you to create a schedule that fits in with your life, not the other way around.
What Is Time-Management?
Basically it is the art of arranging and scheduling one’s most precious resource – time. Even if you perceive your schedule as being fairly loose (ie you haven’t got deadlines or appointments – in the traditional sense, anyway) it is probably the most essential part of your business, without it not much will get done. Maintaining a fine balance between work and home responsibilities under the same roof takes some effort. The whole idea of effective time management is the art of planning ahead.
In order to avoid getting off track and resuming those “bad” time-management habits of employed life, such as being at work on time, eating lunch at a certain time, leaving for home at another certain time, being guilt-ridden for not getting certain tasks done during your day etc., I have formulated a simple 10 step plan to make your work-at-home experience a pleasurable one. Time-management does not have to be complicated or too restrictive as the more traditional methods might suggest.
Time-Management – 10 Simple Steps To Success:
1. Organise Your Workspace
If your workspace is a disaster, you will waste precious time trying to work efficiently in a disorderly place.
2. Organise Your Home Space
Even if your work schedule and workspace are well organised, you don’t want to be distracted by all those odd-jobs etc. that need doing in your home while you’re working.
3. Allow Yourself To Have “Work Time” And “Home Time”
The trick here is to let the work stuff go when it’s home time, and let the home stuff go when it’s work time. I know it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but you must teach yourself to separate the two. Otherwise it’s easy to either become a workaholic and have no leisure time, or on the other hand, get absorbed in your favourite TV shows etc. and get no work done. No work = No money! Simple as that. Balance is the key here folks.
4. Write Tomorrow’s To-Do List Today
This little tip will save you hours each day of time-wasting fidgeting before you get started. Also, just knowing that you can face the day with your list of tasks already prepared will allow you to be more relaxed in your leisure time. You won’t need to feel distracted with “gee now let me see, what do I have to do tomorrow”, that’s just a waste of your precious time. Not to mention, if you plan ahead, you’ll get a much better night’s sleep as well…trust me, it works! The whole point of working from home is to get the job done, make loads of money, and then get on with the business of enjoying your actual life.
5. Get Those Tedious Tasks Out Of The Way First
No use hiding it, we all have little jobs daily that we don’t exactly find thrilling or inspiring. Obvious as this might be, it’s always a relief to get the tedious, boring stuff out of the way first. This way you have the interesting aspects of your work to look forward to, also you end your day on a high note and you’re ready for the more fun bit of your life – my favourite – leisure time!
6. Find Your Personal Prime-Time
Finding your personal prime-time could be THE most important asset for those of us working from home. This means finding out when you are at your most alert, productive and energetic in the cycle of any given day, and then use these times to produce most of your work. This could be morning, noon, afternoon, evening or night time, there really are no rules except those that you inflict upon yourself.
By discovering your prime-time of mental alertness you will find it takes you half the time to complete tasks when you’re bright and chirpy, as opposed to when you are feeling lethargic and sluggish.
7. Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure
Set achievable and realistic goals for each day, and complete general tasks like emails etc on the same day you receive them so they don’t pile up. Don’t set too many tasks for any particular day and then find you can’t possibly complete them in the hours you have allocated for work. I cannot stress this enough, if your goals are unrealistic, you will always feel as if you’ve achieved nothing which can set you up for certain failure of your home business. Be kind to yourself, set yourself the same amount of goals you might set for someone else to perform. Don’t be harsher on yourself than you would be on a complete stranger, make it all achievable and you’ll have a great life.
8. Schedule Recreation Time
It’s all too easy to end up in a rut, even for those with the best intentions. Next thing you know, you’re working 20 hours a day, you’re missing out on recreation and leisure time with your family and friends and it all starts to feel like a bit of a grind. Sure you have to work a bit harder when you first start out, that’s just normal. However, even during that time (as well as later) make sure you actually schedule recreation time, play your favourite sport, catch up with family & friends etc. By taking control of your life, you will find you are more productive during your working hours. Along with working to your own schedule, enjoy your freedom, family and friends is what it’s all about at the end of the day.
9. Reward Yourself After You Have Completed A Project
Often we’ll put in big days, make great money and forget to say “thanks” to ourselves, where we’d definitely offer that courtesy to an employee/a relative etc. I’m not suggesting you make a public spectacle of it, people might think you’re weird. But by giving yourself a treat for a job well done, you become the master of your own destiny. Don’t wait for the approval of others (ie.your boss etc.) before you feel worthy, do it for yourself, it’s very empowering.
10. Don’t Be A Procrastinator
If the task ahead looks just too big to deal with all at once, don’t avoid it rather break it up into smaller more manageable portions, as you get each one done you’ll realise it took you less time and effort than you initially thought possible. Just keep moving forward and you’ll get there sooner!
Without implementing even basic time-management techniques you will find your work-at-home life is characterized by last minute rushes to meet dead-lines, days which are filled with one type of crisis or another, and general fatigue. This sort of environment is totally unproductive and can lead to working long hours with little achievement, and worst of all for little financial return. Remember, No work = No money.
I urge you to implement the above techniques as well as discover what suits your own personality and vision. The importance of developing these skills is they help you keep your work-life and home-life under control, at the same time helping keep stress levels to a minimum. Once you manage to extract the most productivity and enjoyment out of your day you can really start achieving your personal goals, dreams and ambitions.