Here is what I’ve learned the hard way about time management as a woman entrepreneur who works from home:
- Get out of bed. Ha! I know you think I’m joking, but I’m not. I’m coaching a serial entrepreneur who owns five companies – and she runs them from her bed, wearing her jammies and surrounded by a host of laptops. This woman works 20 hours a day. Yes. That’s 2-0 hours a day out of 24. As you might imagine, her personal life is non-existent, her kids have to introduce themselves to her every time they come back from boarding school and her health is circling the commode. So yeah. Get out of bed.
- Get ready. This means taking a shower, having breakfast and putting on real office clothes. Deodorant, perfume, jewelry and hey, maybe even make-up! I have found myself wearing my walking togs well into the afternoon and it just doesn’t feel…serious, I guess the word is. It feels like my day hasn’t even started and it’s time for dinner.
If you’re serious about your business, act like it. Look the part. Even if you work from home and no one but the dog sees you. It’s still important to act like you’re at work. For many home-based entrepreneurs, operating from home is a lot easier. However, it can slightly uncomfortable letting clients know that you operate this business from your own house. This can make businesses seem slightly untrustworthy and less professional. That’s why some people use the services found on websites like yourvirtualofficelondon.co.uk for example. By doing that, these businesses will appear to have a London office address which seems much more formal and professional. So even though you’re working from home, customers will think you’re operating from an actual office.
- Go to the office. “What do you mean, ‘go to the office’?” I hear you asking. “I work from home! I don’t HAVE an office.” Well, my darling, it’s about time you made one. Clean out one of your closets. Take over that spare bedroom. Convert that open space in your basement or attic. Carve a working space out of the corner of the master bedroom and use it. Looking at a prefab office shed could provide some inspiration for how you might go about building an office at home.
OK, OK, you live in a shoe box and you don’t have room to clean out/carve out or convert into office space. You use the dining room table. You spread out on the coffee table in the living room. That’s fine; you gotta do what you gotta do. Which means it’s even more important to…
- Establish parameters and boundaries. This means setting office hours, which means when you start and when you finish. I said, “Finish.” You did get that last part, right? That means packing up the work you’ve got scattered all over the sofa, and putting it away until you drag it all out again tomorrow.
Except in dire emergencies, do not work more than 10 hours a day. More than 10 hours a day on a regular basis increases your chance of heart disease by 60%. You want to live to retirement age. You want to enjoy your grandkids. You want to have fun in your golden years. This means you need to establish regular office hours now.
- Block out your time. To-do lists are essential, especially when they are centered on your business (and life) goals. (The entire point of time management is to get the important stuff done so you can enjoy your life.) But blocking out time is vital if you don’t want to get sucked into a time vortex that consists of you just checking things off your list and never getting anything done.
Set aside specifics time in your day to do specific things that are important to your business. Make an appointment with yourself. Block out the time in your calendar so you don’t overbook.Then shut the door, put your phone on stun, close all your browser windows, get out of your email and set your timer. How long depends on you. If you suffer from ADD, start with 15 minutes and go from there. If you can focus with the best of them, set it for an hour. Challenge yourself to finish in just a wee bit less time than you think it will take. I know you can do it; you’re running your own business. You eat challenges for breakfast.
What’s your best time tip for entrepreneurs? I’d love to hear! Please add your comment below.