One of the biggest pitfalls with working from home is not setting proper working hours. Without the routine of getting out the door to greet your boss at a certain time, your day can start to lack structure. These problems can usually be put into one of three categories – getting started, knowing when to stop, and outside inteference.

Getting started in your home job.

Take your “job” seriously.

Dress for work. This can be in whatever dress code you decide is appropriate for your business, but it helps to get ready for work in the same way you would if you were leaving the house to work.

Have a start time. Decide what your start time will be and stick to it. Just like working outside the home, there will be days when you reach the office not feeling like work. But, if you turn up and apply yourself to it, you will be surprised by just how much you will achieve.

Keep a diary. Both for targets, appointments and to-do lists, and also for things done, phone calls made and received etc. You diary will keep you on track, and will also provide much needed reference points.

Have clear goals. Make certain that you know what your business aims are. Where do you envisage your home business being in a year’s time, six months time? What do expect to achieve this week?

Schedule time bandits. Certain activites in the day are time bandits – they steal your time when you aren’t looking. Big offenders are phone calls, emails etc. Make a time in your day when you make all the phone calls you need to. Send emails at the same time. Plan your phone calls – have a list, if need be, of what you need to say and ask, and try not to get side-tracked.

Knowing when to stop.

Set a time when you will finish. This may be around the normal finishing time for your work. Or you may choose to finish early and then start again in the evening or you may choose to start early and finish early. Whatever work schedule you choose to suit you, you need to know when the end of it is.

Have a ritual at the end of the day. Tidy your desk or workspace. Make a to-do list for the next day. Double check for appointments the following day and make sure that today’s information is all written up. Turn off any equipment and leave – even if it’s only to the kitchen for a hot chocolate or out into the garden for some fresh air – leave!

Don’t take your work home with you. This may sound like strange advice – after all, you’re working from home! But sitting in front of the fire, stressign over some problem you haven’t solved during the day while you’re supposed to be concentrating on your small child’s day at school, isn’t going to do you (or your business) any favours. If, as you reach the end of the day, you find yourself with unsovled problems, make up your mind that tomorrow morning you will solve X. Write it in the diary and make an appointment with it. Then go home!

Outside interference.

This is the friends who believe that, because you work for yourself, your time is “your own”. The neighbours who knock on the door to “just ask if” because they know you are at home all day. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that you can make up the time later. This is because it isn’t the half hour helping the friend to “just do”. It is the fact that if you “just do” on this occasion, that friend will believe forever that you will always be free when they pop round. Their demands on your time will grow bigger and more persistent.

The only answer to this one, I am afraid, is to learn to say “I’m sorry, I’m working now, I’ll call back at…….” Obviously, if the neighbour is knocking on your door because his wife has collapsed or his house is on fire then you would respond. If he wants to come and have a coffee “because he can” then you are at work.

Self-belief

I have deliberately left this one till last. Believe in what you are creating. Believe in your ability to create it. Be proud of what you have achieved. Even if it is just the very first step on your journey towards your business – it is still a step that you should take every pride. That pride will grow and show – and with that your achievements will grow too.

Good luck – and remember, if you aren’t enjoying it then you’re doing it wrong 🙂

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