Time Management for Your Home Office

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

One of the things that can sabotage a business quicker than almost anything is not having and utilizing a good time management system.  This is especially true for the entrepreneur who runs their business out of the home. Working from home offers great flexibility and is an economical choice for businesses that don't want to office elsewhere or can't afford it. But it can hold a whole host of time management landmines that will ruin the best intentioned business owner.  Here is a checklist to be sure you are using your home office time wisely.

1. ___I separate home time and office time

Designate dedicated blocks of uninterrupted time for business.  Mixing everything up causes confusion and inefficiency.

2.___My family knows to respect my time "at the office."

Let the other people you live with know that you take your home based business seriously and need to have them take it seriously as well.  This may be difficult at first, but with with regular "business meetings" with them, you can let them know your goals for your business and how your success will benefit them and they will have greater respect for your time spent in the business.

3.___Minimize or eliminate home distractions.

Put the house phone on silent.   Get someone to watch the kids.  If you have to put a load of laundry in, turn the buzzer off so you aren't distracted when it's done.  Starting and stopping projects is one of the least efficient way to accomplish your business goals.

4.___Leave the home occasionally to work uninterrupted in a neutral place.

If you are having constant interruptions, take your laptop or paperwork to your local coffee shop or library.  There you can put your head down, if only for an hour and accomplish focused work.

5.___I get up and get into the office early

Starting your work day before the rest of the family gets up is a great way to accomplish a lot while you are still fresh and the house is quiet.

6.___I begin each day with a plan and goals

This is Time Management 101 for most businesses, but especially necessary for the home office.  When you clearly define how you will spend each hour of your working/home day,and week  you won't get caught unaware when the school is out early that day, the dog has to go to the vet or the plumber arrives to fix that leak under the sink.

7.___I hire part time help for tasks that don't use my moneymaking skills

Just because you work from home, doesn't mean you can't have paid assistants to do the things you can't or don't want to do.  Sometimes we think, "I don't want to have an employee coming into my home."  "I'm not big enough yet to have hired help."   There are many virtual assistants that work from home and can do many tasks from their home office.

8.___I know how much time it takes to accomplish my goals and manage any home tasks required of me

This is another time management basic every entrepreneur needs to know.  Make a list of all the things you need to do to make your business a success that you must do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.  Then estimate how much time each takes.  This may seem tedious and for some tasks you may have to guess, especially if you are new in the business.  Then block out time in your planner.

9.___I use time management, customer management and financial software to streamline my business.

The initial set up of some of these systems may take some time but in the long run, they are well worth it.  There is so much technology designed to help us these days.  Take advantage of those that fit you best .

10.___I realize that one of that advantages of working at home is that I can be more available to my family and will have more time for them in the long run if I manage my time properly.

Working from home is the dream of many an entrepreneur.  Long commutes are eliminated and that is good for the environment.  Parents are able to be more flexible with their young children.  Older workers are able to have a second career without the hassle of a rigid work environment.   Paying attention to how you spend your time, and utilizing your time management skills, will make this sweet situation even sweeter.

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