Several of my small business coach clients are start-ups and people with micro home-based businesses. A common challenge that many of these clients have is maintaining discipline, focus and motivation whilst working from home. It is a particularly challenging issue when a business doesn’t yet have a critical mass of customers to service-the phones aren’t yet ringing and there are no enquiries, services or accounts to produce.
So many small business owners working from home battle with effective time management. So what are the main problems?
- Lack of structure, goals or focus
- Lack of a feeling of accountability-no boss to keep you on your feet
- Too much time spent on social media/web surfing in non-income producing activities
- Too much time pursuing hobbies or pleasant activities
- Being too sociable
- Getting too generous lending time to run errands for family and friends
- Being too open to all manner of other disruptions.
Do More of These Things Immediately:
- Develop a yearly Business Plan with revenue targets (if you haven’t one already)
- Break down this yearly plan into monthly targets and actions
- Write down at the start of each week what monthly actions can/must be done that week
- Have a plan of what you need to do each day – AND STICK TO IT!
- Ensure your home office is seperate or isolated from other people living in your house and close your door
- Get dressed
- Don’t let people drop by during work hours-see them for lunch perhaps
- Get out of the house – one or two mornings a week spend your time working at your favourite café
- Get a comfortable office chair-don’t be tight on this one!
- Don’t answer the door or your home phone during office hours (this is challenging for extroverts)
- Ban yourself from idle web surfing, social media, TV and gaming during work hours-except perhaps your lunch break
- Don’t book non work appointments during business hours
- Put a copy of Covey’s Time Management Matrix near your computer screen and always be asking yourself honestly ‘is what I’m doing right now a genuine Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 activity?’ If not, stop what you’re doing
- Be a bit mean and guarded with your time running errands for family and friends-guard your time like you are working for an employer
- Have set work hours for at least 4 days of the week
- In times of stress or when you’re lacking spark-go for a walk
Work/Life Balance and Time Flexibility
Being self-employed and working from home should allow you work/life balance and flexibility – that’s part of why we do it. I very rarely work past midday on Fridays for instance-but that means I have to be super disciplined and laser focussed for the rest of the week. Plus to get to this stage, I’ve had to build up a reliabale revenue stream which can only be achieved with effective time management.
If you’re self-employed and constantly goofing off in your home office-you’re only ripping you and your family off – maybe this road isn’t for you. When I find my motivation flagging as it inevitably does from time-to-time, I refer to this Chinese Proverb that I have up in my own home office:
If you want to know your past – look into your present conditions.
If you want to know your future – look into your present actions.