Learning To Surrender Control

Three Ways To Improve Your Productivity When Running A Home-Based Business

by Gwendolyn Marshall

When you run your own business from your home, it can be hard to stay focused and productive. After all, your television, personal books, and other entertainment options are only steps away, as are distractions like the dishes, laundry, and demanding friends. To keep yourself on-task and ensure you get as much work done as possible during the work day, try implementing these strategies in your home business start up:

Set up a workspace -- and use it only for work.

Have you ever noticed that when you're in certain places -- like the library or an office, for instance -- working feels natural, while in other places -- like on your sofa -- you really have to fight your instincts to stay focused on work? Your mind gets used to doing certain things in certain spaces. Thus, if you create a space that you use only for work and get into the habit of doing work there, soon you'll have an easier time getting and staying in the "work mindset" in that space.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to their workspace, but in general, a workspace should have the following qualities if you want it to be a space you'll feel comfortable and productive in:

  • The equipment you need to run your day-to-day business (for many, this is just a computer, but perhaps you need a printer, scanner, camera and other equipment, too)
  • Natural lighting to keep you alert
  • Privacy: a way to isolate yourself from others in the home, such as a door
  • Comfortable, ergonomic furniture that won't have you seeking a sofa by 11 am
  • A well-planned organizational scheme to prevent clutter from accumulating

Set a regular schedule for yourself.

One of the beauties of running your own business from home is that you can be flexible with your schedule. If your son or daughter has an emergency in the middle of the day, you can take care of it without checking in with your boss. If you feel sick in the morning, you can start your day late. If you get into the habit of hap-haphazardly working whenever you feel like it, however, you'll soon find that you're not working enough. Thus, it is best to set a regular schedule for yourself, and stick to it unless you have a very good reason not to.

When you have to take time out of your regular work schedule, hold yourself to adding that same amount of work time back into your week somewhere else. For instance, if you usually work until 5:00 but have to stop working at 3:00 on Tuesday to run your son to the doctor, make up for that time later by working until 7:00 on another night. Plan when you'll add the time back in before you take it off, rather than just telling yourself you'll "get to it."

Set boundaries with friends and family members.

When you work for yourself from home, it's not uncommon for friends and family members to falsely assume this means you're available to respond to their every beck and call. By setting boundaries from the get-go, you'll ensure you spend more time working and less time listening to your mom gad about on the phone or watching your neighbor's dog at the last minute.

When a personal contact calls you in the middle of the day, screen the call. Unless they leave a message that is urgent, call them back at the end of your working hours -- and tell them why it took you so long to respond. (You were working and do not make a habit of responding to non-work-related communication during work hours.) Tell them when a better time to contact you is for future reference. It may take a little time, but your friends and family will soon get the message that you're not to be bothered during working hours -- and you'll get more done as a result.

Working from home is a wonderful thing, as long as you're able to stay focused and productive. Start implementing the strategies above, and you should find that you're able to get a lot more done in the hours you spend working.