Working from home offers a lot of advantages. You don’t have to worry about sitting in traffic, buying lunch, or having a separate wardrobe for work clothes – averaging about $4,000 in savings each year. However, that doesn’t mean working from home is always easy. Time management skills for small business owners that work from home can be an area of struggle. To help you out, here are a few time management skills you can use.
Create and Stick to a Schedule
People who decide to work from home often do so because they get to choose their own hours. But just because you can work whenever you want, doesn’t mean you should. If you go into your workday thinking that you’ll get things done whenever you feel like it, you’ll quickly fall behind schedule. Instead, you should create a schedule similar to what you’d find in an office.
For example, you can start your workday at 9 o’clock, just like you would in the office. Then you can schedule the rest of your day based on what you need to do. Unlike at an office though, you can choose which of those hours you work and for how long. Working from home provides some freedom, but you still need to put some sort of structure into place.
Once you have a schedule that works for you, make sure you stick to it. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re working from home and start shifting things around. If you do this too often though, your schedule will be less effective, and it will be harder to manage your time.
Create a To-Do List the Night Before
One time management skill that a lot of work-from-home small business owners struggle with is getting started in the morning. When you don’t have to be up and out of your house at a certain time, it becomes easy to procrastinate starting your day. Not only that, but since many small business owners get to choose what they need to work on, it’s hard to know where to start each day.
To combat this, you should make a to-do list the night before. Think of all the things you need to do the following day, then create a list with the easiest to accomplish items first. That way, when the following morning arrives, you have a list of things you need to do ready to go, and you can start being productive right away. This will also help you remove some stress at the end of the day, since you won’t have to keep thinking about all the things you need to do.
Perhaps the biggest challenge regarding time management for small business owners that work from home is potential distractions. Some of you may have kids and pets to take care of. For others, it may seem like there is always some household chore that you need to get done before you can work. And in some cases, it’s just too easy to put off work when your couch and television are just a few feet away. To get more done, you need to work on removing distractions.
The best way to do this is by having a dedicated spot for working – ideally a home office. In this space you should remove all potential distractions. You should also let anyone else who will be home with you know that once you enter that space you are to be left alone as much as possible. Treat your home workspace like any other office – once you’re there, you only focus on work.
Take Actual Breaks
Finally, remember to take breaks. Small business owners have a lot going on, and it’s easy to work throughout the day without stopping. But by not taking actual breaks, you’re likely lowering the quality of your work hours. To keep your mind fresh, set aside time each day to get away from your work and have lunch. You should also sprinkle in other short breaks throughout the day, so that you’re not sitting behind a computer for 8 hours straight.
Find a System That Works for You
The key for small business owners to developing time management skills when working from home is finding a system that works for you. What time works best for you when it comes to starting your day? How frequently do you need to take breaks in order to remain focused? What are your biggest distractions, and how can you remove them? Take the time to answer these questions for yourself, then put a system into place. Then as you go forward you can adjust it as you see fit.