Time Management for Home-Based Workers
Simple Strategies to Increase Productivity
One of the benefits of working from home is the sense of freedom that comes with escaping the watchful eyes of a manager. Home-based workers are their own managers, however, and must quickly learn to streamline and organize work activities to maximize profits. An effective time management system keeps the focus on projects and activities that build a successful home-based business. Try these simple time management strategies to boost personal productivity:
Organize the Home Office to Increase Productivity
Time spent searching for ink cartridges or phone numbers is not time well-spent in a home-based business. An organized, well-stocked home office is essential to productivity, so invest in an adequate inventory of office supplies, and store these items neatly in a convenient location. Before leaving the work area for the day, clean off the work space, place files and folders in their proper homes, and pull together phone numbers or documents needed for the next day’s work activities.
Set Achievable Action Steps to Manage Time Wisely in the Home-Based Business
When a home-based worker has a clear sense of direction, they are equipped to hit the ground running at the beginning of a work session. Break large business goals and objectives into small, achievable action steps, and create a daily task list centered around these action steps. This ensures the majority of work time is spent on activities and projects which align with the main goals and objectives of the home-based business.
Eliminate Distractions When Working at Home
Nothing derails productivity faster in a home-based business than distractions. Increase productivity by limiting time spent on internet forums, social networking sites and email. If email communication or social networking is essential to the home-based business, set a specific time of day for these activities and designate a maximum allowable time to be on the sites. Limit distractions from friends, family, and other visitors by informing them of working hours in advance. Turn off the telephone ringer, and do not answer the doorbell during work periods if at all possible.
If distractions continue to crop up, start a “distraction log.” Record the description of the distraction, the time it occurred, when it happened, how much time was wasted, and who or what was involved. Review the log at the end of each week, and brainstorm ways to manage these distractions in the future. Sometimes, simply being mindful of wasted time will jolt the home-based worker into avoiding distractions and increasing productivity in the future.
Delegate and Delete for a Streamlined Time Management System
There is often a sense of overwhelm that settles over home-based workers when they realize they now wear all the hats in a business. From bookkeeping to communications to marketing, they are responsible for getting everything done. To avoid burnout and maximize productivity, it’s vital to focus on key activities.
Keep a time tracking diary for a week or more to monitor time spent on work activities. Review the time tracking diary at the end of each week to see if any of the duties could be outsourced to a virtual assistant, an office temp, or a friend or family member. When reviewing the time tracking diary, consider whether the activity is truly necessary and in alignment with overall business goals. Delete anything that is not essential, and use the extra time to perform tasks designed to grow the business.
Improve Personal Productivity with Professional Time Management Advice
Developing a time management system is a skill, and there are experts and products available to help home-based business owners sharpen this skill. There are business coaches and life coaches who work with clients to create a personalized time management system. Professional organizers can also be helpful in creating a home-office environment geared towards increasing productivity.
In addition, there are many excellent time management software programs, productivity management systems, and time management books and courses available to provide the home-based worker with effective time management tools.
Regardless of the size and scope of a home-based business, the key elements of effective time management systems are the same. Simple strategies like organizing the home office, setting achievable action steps, eliminating distractions, and delegating or deleting nonessential activities keep the home-based worker’s focus on increasing productivity and boosting profits.