Working from home can be a wonderful way to escape the 9-5 grind. There are no mazes of cubicles, no long commutes, and no awful break room coffee. And for many women, a home-based business offers a smarter balance between work and family. But with its many perks, working from home can be challenging. It’s not always easy to stay productive and focused in the face of countless distractions (from the TV to a sink of dirty dishes or your children).
On top of this, if you’re working from home, you’re most likely a small business owner, freelancer, or consultant. This means your paycheck is directly tied to how much you get done. For the self-employed, wasting time means wasting money.
Here's how to be more productive, while still enjoying all the unique benefits of being a work-from-home woman:
1. Respect your workday
When people work outside of the home, their family and friends naturally understand their work-day schedule. But when you work from home, it’s a whole different situation. You’ll get calls at 11 am or be expected to handle the bulk of daily errands. It’s not that you shouldn’t chat with a friend on the phone or schedule an appliance repair in the middle of the day. But, you do need to be mindful of how easy it is to have time ripped from your schedule when you’re working from home.
Remember that just because you work from home, it doesn’t mean that your job or time is any less important. Respect your schedule and set boundaries if needed.
2. Try the ‘15 more minutes’ trick
It’s easy to become distracted, particularly when dealing with a task that’s challenging or a bit dull. If you find your focus drifting, tell yourself to spend just 15 more minutes on the task at hand. Knowing there’s an end in sight can be reinvigorating. If that doesn’t help, move on to a different task or change your environment (for example, go work at the local café for an hour).
3. Create Your Own Tight Deadlines
Does the following situation sound familiar: you’re super productive when facing a tight deadline one day, then the next day a simple 15-minute task can take hours to complete? Yes, you might work well under pressure. But there’s something else called Parkinsons Law, which basically states that a task will expand to fill the time you can give it. Overcome this trend by creating your own tight deadlines for specific tasks.
4. Give Yourself a Dedicated Workspace
In an ideal world, you have a dedicated home office ⎯ complete with a door so you can shut out distractions from time to time. But if this isn’t possible, you should still try to create your own work area, even if it’s just moving a cup of pencils to the dining room table when you start working. Creating physical boundaries not only helps you be more productive ‘at work’, but also helps you decompress during your personal time.
5. Take Meaningful Breaks
No one can stay focused for hours on end; this is true whether you’re working at home or in the office. Breaks are an important part of the workday, so make your free time count. Have you ever said you couldn’t go to the gym or meet a friend because you’re too busy? On that very same day, you probably spent well over an hour on busy work … something that isn’t accomplishing anything and won’t recharge your batteries. So make some time to do something you love each day. You’ll not only end up being happier but you'll be more productive as well.
Working from home is a blessing, but it does come with its own unique set of challenges. Trying using some of these time management tips and you'll be on your way to working more efficiently and productively.
How do you manage the challenges of working from home? What helps you to be more productive? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you!
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Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate, mother of four, and a business leader who doesn’t always color inside the lines. As CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service, Nellie helps small business owners form an LLC or incorporate a business in order to start and protect their new business ventures the right way.