If you’re cut from entrepreneurial cloth and are working for yourself to realize your dreams, you may not have an actual office in which to work just yet. Instead, you’re doing the majority of your startup work from home. Not only is that OK — it’s great! You get to be your own boss, you have total flexibility, there’s no long commute or annoying coworkers, and you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. It’s total work-from-home freedom.
There is just one problem that many work-from-home entrepreneurs have, though, and it’s motivation. It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re working from home! The TV is right there in the corner, and there’s no one to tell you to stop spending so much time on social media. Plus, there are things around the house that need to be done; the laundry needs to be folded, and the dishes need to be washed, plus you know where all the snacks are.
How can you stay focused and on task when you’re a work-from-home entrepreneur? The short answer is that you need to carefully manage your time. As for how to do that, read on — here are five helpful time management tips.
- Have a home office. The idea is to physically separate yourself from the rest of your house, ideally in a home office, ideally with a door that closes. Don’t work at the dining room table, don’t work on the couch in the living room, and do not bring your laptop to bed. Put yourself in a designated workspace, and use that space only for work. Plus, when you’re working, your family or roommates should know that you’re not to be disturbed.
- Plan to work during regular work hours. Wait — isn’t the whole point of working from home that you can set your own hours? Well, yes, but if you’re trying to start a business, especially one for which you’ll need the contributions and input of other people, you’ll need to be available when they are, and that typically means nine to five. Plus, people who need to get in touch with you will start to look for you around nine, and they’re done with work at five. Additionally, most of us start to lose our will to be productive around five or six anyway, regardless of what time we get started; start at eight or nine, and you’ll be able to put in a full day’s work before stopping for the evening.
- Make a schedule — and stick to it! Remember high school, when your day was always planned very strictly for you? You knew where you had to be every minute of the day, and you were there. As a work-from-home entrepreneur, you can use this same strategy to keep yourself accountable and on task: get up around the same time every day, then schedule your day by task and time. And of course, you need to stick to it, since a schedule is pointless if it’s ignored.
- Plan to take breaks throughout the day. In a more traditional office setting, you’re rarely at your desk all day, but in a work from home setting, you may be tempted to do just that on a daily basis. However, that can quickly lead to burnout and resentment. Instead, take breaks — actually schedule breaks. Give yourself a true lunch hour during which you don’t do work. Then, take a quick break every couple of hours to step outside, make coffee, do a quick yoga routine, or do something that isn’t work related. You won’t burn out as much because you’ll have built these small breaks into your schedule. Plus, if you’re the type of person who needs to be around others, plan that social time into your breaks. Have lunch with a colleague, or plan to do an errand during which you’ll interact with other people, or even schedule an exercise class into your day.
- Set productivity goals. What should you get done today? This week? This month? Give yourself realistic goals and deadlines to get things done, and reward yourself when you’re successful.
Use Your Time Wisely!
The key to being a successful work-from-home entrepreneur is making the most of your time. You may have a brilliant idea, and you may have the know-how and connections to turn it into a thriving business, but you still have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else. You’ll need to use your time wisely if you’re going to make your entrepreneurial endeavor work.
What’s your best work-from-home tip? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!