Set a schedule for your work day – and follow it
Being told to set a schedule for your work day is a common piece of business advice for the self-employed. Unfortunately, many people give it lip-service, but not-so-many actually follow the advice. It takes time to learn how to do this well. Practice is the only answer.
Your home-based business is now your JOB! You must set your hours, and go to work every day, just as you would do with any job. Stay at your desk until your work day is done; but, take short breaks every hour and stop for food. Set a time limit for both and stay within the limit. If you don’t – 10 minute breaks can turn into an hour and a 30-minute food break can turn into the whole afternoon.
Enlist your family’s support by asking them to respect your working hours and to understand that during working hours, you are unavailable. Depending on your family situation, your working hours may have to be early morning and after bedtime in the evening. Find out what works for you and then make it happen.
Regardless of the time of day (or number of hours) you choose to work, the strategy is still the same – set your hours and stick to the schedule. Doing so will increase your productivity, keep you from burning out, and help you to maintain a normal and happy life outside of your computer, which is a wonderful thing.
Creating a schedule and following it works like a charm because . . .
- When you set a specific (limited) number of hours to work each day, you will work more efficiently. You are more likely to complete the tasks you have scheduled than if you work from the perspective that you have an “unlimited number of hours” at your disposal.
- The longer you sit in front of the computer, the probability of burn out increases. Burn out is a huge problem because you will begin to do everything except real (productive) work. You will end up visiting forums, checking Facebook and Twitter, checking stats, getting lost on blogs…etc…etc.
- When you have “put in your hours” and turn off your computer, you are free to do normal things like take care of yourself, your home, your family, visit with friends, go to the movies – or anything else you like to do. Scheduling and using personal time keeps your life in balance.
In the beginning, your family and friends may not understand what you are doing and may even give you a hard time about finding “a real job.” They may assume that you are unemployed and passing time by amusing yourself on your computer.
A problem can develop as a result of their erroneous assumptions. They may think that since you are not busy you should be available and willing to run errands for them, talk to them on the telephone, or have a pot of coffee ready whenever they decide to drop in unannounced at all times of the day.
These infringements on your time are easier to combat when you have a work schedule in place that you follow religiously. There should be no question in anyone’s mind (or yours) about what you are doing. You may even have to lay down specific rules about when you are available and when you are not. A “do not disturb” sign on the door can be extremely effective. You should also make it clear that during working hours the only acceptable form of communication is texting – and that you will not reply unless it is an emergency.
If being self-employed is new for you, implementing this strategy can be challenging. BUT, you must do it! Regardless of the type of business you have chosen, this strategy is critical if you want to be successful without being a slave to your business.