The rise of remote work and the growth of entrepreneurship have converged to create a new breed of professionals – work-at-home entrepreneurs. While the flexibility of working from home offers numerous advantages (I am writing this in pajamas), it also presents unique challenges, especially when it comes to managing time effectively. Let’s explore essential time management strategies tailored to work-at-home entrepreneurs (I need this article as much as you do) as we search for the sometimes elusive three: productivity, balance, and success.
1. Set Clear Goals and Priorities:
Define your short-term and long-term goals. Break them down into smaller, actionable tasks. Identify high-priority tasks that align with your business objectives. This approach helps you focus on what truly matters, preventing you from getting lost in unproductive activities.
After trying dozens and dozens of apps, I return time and again to the default Notes app on my Apple devices. I especially like using their checklist feature for that extra dopamine kick when I check something off.
2. Establish a Consistent Routine:
Create a daily routine that mimics a traditional workday. Set specific start and end times for work. This routine provides structure and a sense of normalcy, helping you transition into “work mode” and avoid the temptation of constantly working.
If you have an ADHD squirrel-brain like me, try setting a multitude of alarms in your mobile device. I have MANY reminding me to take my medications, get up and walk around, to stop and eat lunch, and to get off the computer and make dinner.
3. Designate a Dedicated Workspace:
Design a functional and organized workspace that’s separate from personal areas. Having a designated area for work helps you mentally separate work from leisure and boosts your productivity.
This can be tricky if you’re short on space or if you are juggling childcare while trying to work from home. In my early days of entrepreneurship, I had offices in a corner of the kitchen, the garage, and inside a closet. Often, it was just a laptop on my lap at the park, during swimming lessons, or in the car during after school pick up.
4. Embrace Time Blocking:
Divide your workday into blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks. This technique enhances focus by eliminating multitasking and promotes a more efficient workflow.
I’ve really been enjoying the Motion app for this!
5. Use Time Management Tools:
Leverage productivity tools and apps that suit your needs. Calendar apps, task management tools, and time tracking apps can help you stay organized and accountable.
If I’ve got tasks I’m avoiding or procrastinating, the Pomodoro method works really well. There are lots of cute apps out there, but to try the Pomodoro method, you don’t even need one. Just use a kitchen timer or set the timer on your smartphone.
6. Set Boundaries:
Communicate your working hours to friends and family, and kindly but firmly establish boundaries to minimize distractions during work hours.
This can be super hard if you have children at home. When mine were little, I would refuse to answer the doorbell or phone while they were at school or on a playdate as to better use any scrap of alone time I could get. I also did a whole lot of multi tasking, which, let’s be honest, is just trying to do an overwhelming amount of things less well than you’d be able to if you could really focus. Now that my kids are older, a simple sign on my office door suffices.
7. Prioritize Self-Care:
Remember that your well-being directly impacts your business success. Allocate time for exercise, proper meals, and relaxation to recharge your energy and creativity.
I used to work well into the wee-small hours of the night a lot. I can still end up staying up later than I should, but one of the best things I’ve been able to do for self-care is set a timer to stop working at 5pm and take the rest of the evening to have dinner, hang out with my family, and do some unwinding.
8. Limit Distractions:
Identify potential distractions and take steps to mitigate them. Turn off notifications, close unnecessary browser tabs, and establish social media breaks.
There are some good apps for this if you struggle with online distractions. I use the Self Control app to block any websites where I end up losing track of time.
9. Batch Similar Tasks:
Group similar tasks together and tackle them in one go. This minimizes context switching and maximizes efficiency.
10. Take Regular Breaks:
Scheduled breaks help maintain your focus and prevent burnout. Use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (working for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break) to enhance productivity.
11. Practice Mindfulness:
Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you stay present, reduce stress, and enhance your ability to concentrate.
While working and to enhance my concentration, I utilize medication because of my ADHD diagnosis, but also like brain.fm focus tracks. There are also lots of free focus tracks on YouTube. I also like the creator Ambient Worlds for some fandom-themed focus sounds.
When you’re working from home it can be really hard to turn off your brain and go to sleep; there are always so many things to think about. I’m surprised by how well the Loona app works to quiet my mind so I can sleep.
12. Evaluate and Adjust:
Regularly review your time management strategies. Identify what’s working well and where you can improve. Flexibility is crucial as you fine-tune your approach.
Be patient with yourself!
Balancing work and personal life while maintaining productivity requires careful planning and discipline. By setting clear goals, establishing routines, and using time management tools, you can navigate the challenges of working from home and create a thriving business that aligns with your lifestyle.
But remember to be patient with yourself; you will get out of balance from time to time. Mastering time management is a continuous journey that often requires re-dedication and re-commitment to your goals. You can do it!