This article isn’t for the typical stay-at-home mom or wife. It’s for the woman with a family, or at least a husband, who is trying to start a career from home. That means she isn’t the only one responsible for household duties. She’s working, just like anyone else. Kind of.
If you’ve been working from your home office for more than a week, you know that no one respects your schedule now. Because you can technically create your own hours, family and friends expect you to be available for every crisis, charity event, get-together, and random need. The thing is, you really are limited in how much you can set your own hours. After all, clients are only doing business at certain times. That means that every unexpected phone call or request means lost money for you. This is all part of working from home, but there are ways to schedule your day to minimize your losses. Use the following tips each and every day to keep your business running.
First, get dressed each morning without distractions. Yes, you really did have to be told that, so don’t kid yourself. You probably hop right out of the bed each morning and check your email before you brush your teeth. Stop doing that right now. It is a time waster and disrupts your work schedule by forcing you to switch gears in the middle of a task in order to go get a shower. Don’t work until you are ready to devote all of your attention to your business, and nothing else.
Next, learn to manage your household before you do anything else in the day. We could sit here all day and argue about how sexist and unfair it is for you to have to do laundry before getting to work while your husband or boyfriend is still asleep, but you know good and well that being the one who is home more you will be expected to get it done. It isn’t right, but if you want it done right just do it yourself. Save yourself the drama and just pick up the house and be done with it before you have to get to work. One of the most famous and successful female entrepreneurs of the twentieth century, Mary Kay Ash, instructed her sales people to wake up at 5 am each morning and be done with all housework by 8 am. She died a financial phenomenon. She must have been on to something.
Next, remember to set aside time for yourself each day. It can be extremely difficult to hit that mental “off” switch at the end of the day when you work from home, which is one of the main reasons that so many work-from-home entrepreneurs suffer from burnout so often. Their families suffer, their health suffers, and inevitably even their careers suffer because they forget to take care of themselves. Exercise, watch a little TV, or read a book that has nothing to do with your business every single day. You cannot develop the fresh ideas you’ll need to stay afloat in your work if you don’t give your mind a break. Turn off the office light and shut the door after a designated time each day. Remember, you can put in overtime even if you work from home, and it’s called “overtime” for a reason. Give yourself eight to ten hours a day to work your business, and get out of there.
Next, create a list of things to do each day, rather than creating a set schedule. Why? Because working from home you’ll never have a real, “set in stone” type of daily schedule. You can pencil in times for each task all you want, but in reality you’ll have to just work them around the other aspects of your life. In addition to schedules not being efficient for at-home businesses, they also aren’t a great way to run any small business in general. You can always squeeze in time to get more work done, so adhering to a schedule may make your work day to lax. Get a task done and move on to the next. If you finish before the end of the work day, which you likely will, move on to something you didn’t think you’d have time to do. Your business will thrive from the extra effort.
Finally, invest in an egg timer or stop watch. With the tremendous volume of celebrity gossip available on the Internet and daytime soap operas on TV to distract you, you will waste time every day if you don’t require that certain tasks get done within certain time frames. Give yourself just enough time to complete the task, them move on. If you get done with a task a little early, it’s ok to give yourself a short mental break before moving on. Now, set that clock or timer and get to it.