Working from home offers you autonomy and flexibility. When you run your own business, you not only have the benefits of being an independent contractor but also the absolute power of being your own boss. However, there are challenges to running your own business and working from home. The most pressing are procrastination, demotivation, and the blurring of lines between your personal and professional lives. Fortunately, there’s a solution for all three. The answer is time management.
Below are six time management tips that will help you fight off procrastination, spark your motivation, and improve your work/life balance.
1. Set up a home office
Having a separate space to do your work plays a role in how well you’ll be able to manage your time. Ideally, it should be in a quiet spot in your house. There are also other considerations, including lighting and internet connection. One great benefit of working in a designated home office space is it helps you get into the mindset of working. It can also serve as a signal for family members that you shouldn’t be disturbed with personal matters while there. In addition, having all your work essentials in one place will allow you to accomplish your tasks faster and more efficiently.
2. Determine your peak hours
We’re all unique. Some of us are morning people, while others function better in the dead of night. When do you perform your best? You probably have an idea already. However, journaling can certainly help you define your peak hours more specifically. To do this, just perform your tasks as normal, but make sure to take note of your energy level or motivation while doing so, indicating the hours as well. And keep on journaling for at least a week. Then go back to your notes and see if there are any recurring patterns such as you finish tasks faster at certain times of day.
3. Set a schedule
It’s highly advisable to limit your working hours in the same way you’d set them for an employee. So, pay careful attention to how long you work each day, as this will significantly impact your work/life balance. Setting certain hours will also prevent you from getting burnt out and demotivated—as long as you adhere to your schedule. Of course, it can be easy to convince yourself to work just one hour more. And, before you know it, you’ve overworked yourself, causing your stamina to dip and encouraging you to procrastinate. Which is not a cycle you want to put yourself in.
4. Establish a productivity system
Applying a productivity system to your work routine is also a big help, not just in capturing the things you need to get done but also in managing the time in which you have to do them. There are numerous systems out there, but the three below are most popularly used.
- Getting Things Done. Developed by productivity expert David Allen, Getting Things Done (a.k.a. GTD) is a system that seeks to capture the thoughts that can disrupt mental clarity and slow you down. It then provides techniques on how to organize your thoughts according to your specific needs and priorities.
- Bullet Journaling. Those who find GTD quite complicated will appreciate the straightforwardness of bullet journaling. It heavily relies on a legend of symbols you can use to organize your tasks. There are journals specifically designed for this system. However, you can definitely apply its techniques using any notebook, paper, or even digital note-taking applications.
- The Daily Trifecta. Understandably, some people feel overwhelmed by the two systems above. After all, both give you free rein to list as many tasks as you want. On the other hand, the Daily Trifecta system limits you to three most important tasks a day. Only when these are done are you allowed to take on more.
In the end, what’s important is to find which one suits your personality and work routine best.
5. Plan your tasks the night before
Once you’ve defined the productivity system that fits you best, the next step to manage your time better is to plan the night before. Planning your tasks in the morning can ruin the momentum and creative energy you have fist thing in the morning. Business owners who start their operations early may also find it inconvenient to have to plan in the morning. So, create your to-do list for the next day the night before. That will allow you to hit the ground running each morning.
6. Minimize Distractions
Finally, if there’s one thing that can keep you from your work, it’s a distraction. So, you should aim to minimize distractions as much as you can. Unfortunately, distractions come in many forms: incessant noise, phone notifications, visual clutter, and even the urge to check your email. The good thing is, most of them can be dealt with easily. Below are a few tips.
- Turn off your notifications. In fact, it’s ideal to put your phone on airplane mode whenever you’re working. Of course, this might not be possible for everyone, especially for business owners who heavily rely on their phones for their hustle.
- Declutter. Keep your home office clean. Pare down your office supplies to just your essentials. Achieving a minimal home desk design is also ideal
- Schedule your email checks. Finally, if possible, schedule your email checks during specific hours of the day. This will help improve your focus on current tasks, prevent “urgent” items from disrupting your set schedule, and keep you away from your phone or browser.
Mike Abelson is the Editorial Director at Lendza. He enjoys helping entrepreneurs and startups succeed through smart, innovative strategies. He’s partnered with CEOs and executives to grow businesses from the ground up. Before his work at Lendza, Mike was a stock market analyst. When he’s not traveling for work, he enjoys reading adventure and science fiction novels.
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