Increasing workloads are forcing people to spend more time in the office, even when the office is at home. This means that many parents are unable to stay involved in their children’s lives as they develop, and are becoming mere spectators instead of loving role models. The result is an undermining of their relationships, higher stress levels, a lack of balance and a generally unfulfilled life.
However, this should not be the case. Working at home allows greater freedom and independence and should result in less time being wasted. Yet many of us fail to successfully make this transition. Discipline is a key factor when running a business from home.
One of my coaching clients runs his own successful accounting practice from home. With pre-school children and trying to grow his business, he and his wife used to get very frustrated with the fact that they could never remove themselves from the workplace. They felt their business totally overwhelmed them and caused many challenges which affected their personal relationships. We were able to identify exactly where their time was being spent and found that there were simple ways they could do more in their growing business and still have a life. Here are several solutions that can help you to avoid the home office trap…
1. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
You should structure your day so that it is both purposeful and productive. Decide on a starting and finishing time for your day; allow for breaks so that you work smarter, not harder. Doing this will also allow you to better differentiate between work and home, and will encourage you to be more professional.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS, OUTSOURCE YOUR WEAKNESSES
You should be spending the maximum amount of time working on the parts of your business that you are best at. If your billable time is worth $200 an hour, then make sure you spend most of your time on the activities that will produce that for you.
If you don’t want to employ an administrative assistant, invest in a virtual assistant who works off-site (see http://www.asecretary.com.au ). Avoid filling up your day with non-productive activities. Invest your time and money into the right areas of your business; don’t just keep yourself busy.
3. ORGANISE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Have the right tools and systems to work with – an appropriate chair, desk, computer, filing system. This will make you look, feel and act more professionally. In addition, if a client comes round to your house, your professionalism will inspire confidence in you.
4. DECLUTTER THE CLUTTER
A messy working environment which forces you to be continuously spending valuable time searching for things, whether files and emails on the computer or documents in filing cabinets and cupboards, cumulatively wastes hours a day. Clutter is distracting and causes stress, and it is the primary enemy of productivity.
5. LEARN TO SAY ‘NO’
Inform your family and friends of your working hours and that because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re ‘available’. If you were in a corporate office, you would not allow your friends to drop by. Enforce these same rules at your office at home.
6. NETWORK TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR MIND
Join local networking groups to meet other like-minded business people. Share knowledge and discover new ways of doing things. Check out your local council and chamber of commerce. Enquire about active small business networks. Join your own trade association and share ideas. An organised business referral group like BNI http://www.bni.com.au can also be of enormous benefit to the home based business owner.
And without leaving home you can become part of The Productivity Coaching Club http://www.theproductivitycoachingclub.com to stimulate your brain and keep you uptodate in how to run your business more effectively and improve your lifestyle.
7. TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOU
It can be easy to lose yourself in your work. Take time to ‘smell the roses’ and to make human contact. Organise to have coffee or lunch with a friend or colleague once a week. Go for a walk every day. Have a weekly or fortnightly massage. Visit the gym more often.
THE FINAL WORD
Admittedly, these ideas are simple… and guess what? It’s generally the simple ideas when acted upon consistently that will make a dramatic impact overall in your business and your life. You’ll feel happier and more fulfilled. You’ll also discover extra time in the day that you never had before.