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Stop Making Project Management Complicated

Stop Making Project Management Complicated

As a business owner, project management is right at the top of the list of core services I provide to my clients. I ensure the deadlines we set any myriad of communication projects, are met and that at any given moment, I know the status of the project and who holds the ball to move things forward.

This might seem like a complicated process. When you consider I handle 30-50 different projects for clients any given month, you might assume I have a long list of sophisticated (and expensive) project management tools at my disposal that help me keep my head on straight.

But you would be quite wrong.

I’m not living under a rock. I’m well aware that technology has provided us with some great tools, especially those that aim to streamline and simplify project management. In fact, I’ve tried out many of these tools before. However, time and time again I’ve been disappointment to find that although they boast some pretty “cool” features, cool didn’t equate to simplicity. Rather, I found myself losing efficiency (and patience) as I tried to learn the ins and outs of these tools – all in an effort to complete tasks that were pretty simple to complete without this technology in the first place.

Maybe you’re found some tools that have become absolute lifesavers to your work organization and efficiency. That’s great – keep using it! But in this article, I want to examine how sometimes we can fall victim to using new technology just for the sake of using new technology.

In which case I say, let’s stop and be smart for a second.

If a boss or a client is asking you to use a special platform or task management system that is, well…whack, don’t be afraid to push back. Take a closer look at my own experience with project management tools and why I continue to use some of the simplest (as well as most cost-effective) tools out there – and how they work just fine when it comes to keeping a bustling business functioning with ease.

What I Don’t Use

Tools that take up more of my time. The first time I test out a new project management tool, it has to feel intuitive to me. I’m a quick judge of character (or in this case quality). If it feels clunky and complicated, or causes redundancy in my process, there’s no way I will continue to use it long-term.

Tools that charge more than a reasonable fee. With so many low-cost and no-cost tools available, a project management tool must really offer some cool features I can’t find elsewhere, if they expect me to pay for them. Only in rare instances has this occurred, and usually only when I know the efficiency I’ll gain will offset this expense exponentially.

Tools that clients don’t want to use. If I expect clients to use a project management tool, it better feel effortless. In the past, I have worked with a few contractors who tried to impose their project management tool on me and my clients. The result? We wouldn’t use the tool and would just email them. I know…I’m part of the problem. But really, the tools were clunky and sending an email was SO much easier…for everyone. The solution was obvious.

Tools that take more effort to explain than use. The last thing I need to add to my inbox is an influx of emails from clients who can’t figure out how to use a tool or technology I’m asking them to use for a project. I’d rather just have them email me their question or piece of the work – it would be a lot more seamless that way. If a tool adds extra steps or induces more questions, I can certainly do without it.

Tools that could potentially backfire or cause more harm than good. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t blindly trust technology. You can ask nearly any business owner and they will have a horror story of how some type of technology they were using either broke, malfunctioned or exposed sensitive data to the world. For this reason alone, I like my simple tools that really can’t mess things up, even for clients who you might swear are trying very, very hard to do so. I like resilient technology, and yes, sometimes this equates to the more simple technology.

What I Do Use

  • Google Docs – For collaboration and sharing.
  • Google VoiceGoogle Voice – For free phone lines in different area codes, and customized voicemails all from one cell phone.
  • Gmail – For email that is clean, simple and intuitive.
  • Boomerang – For scheduling emails to go out at a later date, so I don’t have to remember everything.
  • Doodle – For scheduling a meeting with multiple people – and busy schedules.
  • Microsoft Sticky Notes – For easy and accessible list making that doesn’t require yet one more login, or internet access.
  • QuickBooks – For the sanity of my tax attorney. But really QB makes sure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • DropBox – For file keeping and sharing. I’ve been using it since day 1 of starting my business.
  • Hootsuite – For the most reasonably priced social media scheduling and monitoring platform that allows me to post on behalf of all my clients, even when I’m on vacation.
  • FreeConferenceCall.com – For a free, dedicated conference call line that makes me look like a boss….even when I’m calling in from my couch.

Yes…that’s really it. And I pay about $250 per year for everything.

The bottom line is that you need to find out what works for you. There’s no harm in exploring new technology and other options that might offer you something additional that you need beyond these free or low-cost resources. However, when it comes to the type of tools you use for project management, don’t be a sheep. Just because someone else suggested it or another company is using it, doesn’t mean it will be of equal help to you. Always do your own research and come to your own conclusion.

What type of tools have you found most useful for organization and project management? Are they fancy and sophisticated or simple and low-cost?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Business, Entrepreneurship, Life

 

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How to Help Your Business Run More Efficiently (Contribution from Kevin Conner)

The following post comes to us from internet entrepreneur, Kevin Conner who is the founder of Broadbandsearch.net. In this blog, Kevin shares a wealth of experience related to starting and running an efficient business.


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How to Help Your Business Run More Efficiently

Efficiency is the difference between a company that doesn’t make it past year five and a business that succeeds for decades to come. Good efficiency practices show dedication to having good management, reduce wasteful spending, and discipline the culture of your business towards regular and sustainable productivity.

Yet how does one create an efficient business? It’s all about the environment you create and the policies you implement (and don’t implement). Above all else, consider it a mindset, a filter through which you should run all your decisions, even if you wind up deciding on the less efficient option in the end.

Here are some main principles you should keep in mind.

Delegate and Trust

While your instincts may at first tell you that heavy oversight is the key to better efficiency, we want to warn you that it will have a limited effect at best or even be counterproductive. While oversight is important, employees generally won’t like having someone perched on their shoulder all of the time and getting approval from you or a manager for minor, non-essential decisions will only bottleneck projects.

If you feel that you need to keep a close eye, then you don’t have an efficiency problem as much as a personnel problem, and it would be wise to find and hire people you can trust to work professionally and efficiently when you’re not around, at least in key positions. After this, trusting employees will ease your mind, generally let employees come up with the most efficient solutions on their own, and let people reach their greatest potential.

Make Sure Services and Utilities Are Effective and Working

If you’re using online services and technological tools to help you run your business or help employees perform tasks, make sure they’re either the best or the best option for the cost. Competition will breed a lot of new developments, and you might not be using the most efficient service or option anymore.

For example, consider the internet connection set up for your office. If its too slow to either upload necessary content to a webpage or, even worse, slow to download items your business needs, it creates a huge problem for your employees, and fixing the issue will be the best thing you can do for your business.

Automate Whatever Would Be Reasonable

Automation has become the new driving force in efficiency, and while the initial costs can be high to start with, getting a program (or even a machine in some cases) can save you a lot of money through wages otherwise spent on menial tasks. As a general rule, try to automate whatever your employees do that doesn’t utilize them in the tasks they are best at and were hired for doing. Paperwork, office chores, and laborious production steps can all often be automated or mostly automated, and you should investigate solutions to those problems.

Consolidate Tasks

By grouping tasks and improving the logistics of your business, you can increase efficiency by a great deal. Try looking at what tasks are commonly done and checking if you can simply have a dedicated block of time to taking care of them instead of them randomly being spaced throughout the day. Increasing flow around the office is a great way to improve efficiency.

Additionally, a group of specialists can likely do a better and faster job than a similar-sized team of generalists all handling their own tasks. See what tasks you can consolidate to one team member (when doing so wouldn’t put your business at risk) and let improvement happen over time. You’ll soon see productivity numbers go up as people adjust well to their updated agendas.

Focus on Improving the Most Time-Consuming Tasks First

This is a short tip, but one you should keep in mind. You may or may not believe in the 80/20 principle, but you’ll likely find that most of the stress and inefficiency in your business is coming from a few places and only a few places. As hard as it might be at times, we recommend you cut right to the core of those problems instead of distracting yourself with minor inefficiencies elsewhere (they’ll still be around once everything else is taken care of).

Review Tasks Regularly

Sometimes doing things as they always have been done is simply not the best choice for some tasks. New solutions appear and employees, when given some time and freedom to solve problems their way, can be extraordinarily innovative. Therefore, we recommend that at regular intervals (three months would be a good starting point for most companies) you look at your business and list out every major (and some minor but time-consuming) tasks your employees do, making changes where they would help.

This might not be something you want to do alone. Your job isn’t necessarily to know the ins and outs of everyone’s job so well that you can do it better than them. Instead, if you’re not entirely certain where to make changes (if that would be wise at all), talk to the employee about their tasks, and what might be done to improve efficiency, and which ones are truly necessary. Working with your best people on course correction will likely be the best path to success.

Conclusion

Your business will naturally have its own unique needs, and we are certain that there are methods that will work for you on top of those above that will vary based on your industry and team makeup. Yet with the above tips and strategies, you’ll find that your business will run more effectively and efficiently, driving growth forward and making everyone involved happier in the process.


About the author: Kevin Conner is the founder and CEO of Broadbandsearch.net, the U.S.’s leading home services (broadband and TV) search engine. Kevin’s strengths lie in creating a strategic vision and leading a team to successfully execute that vision.

 
 

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How to Find the Perfect Name For Your Business (Guest Contribution from Squadhelp)

The following post comes to us from Grant Polachek, Director of Marketing at Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform serving businesses of all sizes and industries, from small startups to some of the world’s largest corporations. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas.


Naming your business is a crucial piece of launching your brand. It is often the first thing potential customers learn about your business. It should draw people in and sum up your brand identity.

Although naming is a challenge, it does not have to feel like stepping off the edge of a cliff blindfolded. With the three stages laid out below, you can streamline your ideas and get the most out of your brand name.

Stage One: Mission and Vision

Outline your brand

When selecting a name, it helps to get all of your ideas in one place. Create a document that you can refer back to throughout your naming process. Include key aspects of your brand. What do you do? What are your values? Why is what you are selling important? If others don’t feel that you’re passionate about your own brand, they will begin to question why they should care about it at all.

Jotting down a few existing business names that you like can help you brainstorm. What do you like about these names? Are you trying to achieve a similar vibe?

Compile a list of eight to ten of your favorite names, then dissect them. Explore these winning name ideas to start. Write a couple of bullet points about what you like about the name and why it works for that company. Dissecting your favorite names can provide direction to your naming process.

Consider your audience

A clothing brand targeted at successful middle-aged professional women will sound nothing like a fashion line for hip students, and there’s a reason. Your brand name should not just be about you, it should be about who you are selling to. Most successful names target a specific audience, drawing them in with values and emotions that resonate with them.

For example, take the investing app Robinhood. Their platform focuses on making the investment process free and accessible for the average person, not just the wealthy. The name of their brand not only summarizes their values perfectly by using the story of the heroic bandit Robin Hood, it also appeals to a millennial audience. The name is youthful and fun, and it aligns with millennial values of convenience and fairness.

Look ahead

Where do you want your brand to be in five years? What about ten years? If you’re planning on starting a company that might expand into new areas down the line, be careful not to choose a name that pigeonholes you. At the start, you may be launching a brand of socks, and you feel that the name SuperSocks could be a great fit, but if you plan to grow into other territories later, taking on accessories like hats and scarves, SuperSocks is no longer a suitable name. Planning ahead can help you avoid a costly rebranding process down the line.

Try to sum up your mission and vision in a few short project statements like this:

● We need a name that captures our fun, unique approach to selling socks.

● We need a name that establishes us as a hip, young brand

● We need a name that hints at our eco-friendly business practices Get started by writing a few project statements of your own.

Stage Two: Get Creative

The essentials

Now that all of your ideas are in one place and you’ve figured out what kind of name you want, you can start coming up with ideas. S

tart with the basic principles of a good name. A strong name is easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to hear. If people have a hard time sharing your brand, they won’t share it at all, stunting your brand’s climb to success.

Gather some names

Now, it’s time for the fun part. Jot down every possible name you can think of that might fit the brand you are creating. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box, and don’t be afraid of writing down names you don’t like. The more you have to cross off the list, the better idea you will have of what you are looking for.

Start broad. Some names are descriptive, abstract, emotional, or classic. You can merge words to form a name, or use two separate words to sum up your appeal. Write down a possible example for every name type you can think of. This can help you see what you’re looking for. The more names you have to work with, the better scope you’ll have. Narrow your list Now that you have compiled a broad range of ideas, begin crossing off ones that don’t work for you until you have a list of five or six favorites. This is a great opportunity to get second opinions from friends, family, or even your target market.

When asking questions, don’t just ask “Which of these names is your favorite?” Frame your question neutrally by asking something more along the lines of “Which brand would you want to learn more about?”

Stage Three: Check your Boxes

Secure your domain and assess your risk

A strong domain compliments a good name. Your website is where people will find out more about what you do, so it is best to have as close of a match as possible.

Run a trademark risk test to ensure that your name isn’t already taken by a similar business. If your name is closely related to another name for a business that offers similar services, you may run into trouble with trademark law. Be proactive about trademark risk to avoid messy legal issues.

Coming up with a strong name is a daunting task. So much rests upon a name. It is the sum of your brand’s identity, and it is the first point of connection for your audience. You may feel like all the best names are already taken, or that you have no good ideas, but the perfect name for your business is out there. It just takes a bit of prospecting and brainstorming to find it.

About the Author: Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas.

 

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Do I Need Advertising or Public Relations?

Do I Need Advertising or Public Relations

It’s a really important question – and one that business owners’ return to time and time again. Do I need PR or advertising to grow my business? The answer…it depends! As like most things in life, it’s situational and really depends upon your goal, budget and target audience.

In this blog, I break down some of the most common scenarios businesses face and whether ad or PR is the better strategy to address each. Let’s go!

I want immediate and guaranteed publicity for my business.

You want to start with advertisingWith advertising, you get what you pay for, rarely will it be more or less. The benefit of guaranteed media placement is that you can count on it showing up when and where you want it to. If your business needs this immediate boost in publicity and can’t risk anything less, advertising is the way to go – at least to start. Where PR can come in, is when you want to complement this with the power of organic media exposure that, when done right, can garner a whole lot of media attention for a fraction of the cost of paid placement.

I have a limited budget, but a great story to tell.

You want to start with public relations. If you have a naturally great story to tell, your business will do well with the boost of some public relations. PR thrives on taking a great story and bringing it to the forefront of media and before your target audience. With advertising, you have limited space to tell your full story, so it might not have the same impact if you try to fit it into a 15 second commercial spot or on a bill board. With PR, you gain the platform, like a featured segment on the morning news, or several paragraphs in print or online to really dig into the meat of things.

I can communicate my core message in less than 8 words.

You want to start with advertising. This is the reverse scenario of what we described above. Maybe your business is able to fully articulate its unique selling proposition in 8 words or less. In this case, you might better be suited for a strategy more focused on advertising. A short message can be easily communicated through digital ads, short commercials, sponsored social media posts and billboards. Once you determine this short message, you can advertise it consistently throughout these various facets to benefit from repetition.

I want to promote the charitable angle of my business.

You want to start with public relations. Even if your business is for-profit, you can still hitch your wagon to the promotional power of charitable giving. If your business or organization has a genuine charitable component (people can easily tell when you’re not being sincere!), this unlocks a lot of PR opportunities. Your story will more easily be picked up by local media and often TV stations or digital community calendars offer free promotion of such activities. Sure, you can also pay for this promotion, but why? When it’s charitable in nature, think PR first.

My business has some negativity publicity it needs to counteract. 

You want to start with public relationsIf you find yourself needing to counteract negative sentiment toward your business, this is a job for public relations. It’s important to add the “human” element to your business in such circumstances. For example, you may want to pitch your CEO for a media interview, host a press conference or issue a press release to address the issue. You can also implement some strategic activities to repair your brand, such as a free community event, open house or giveaway.

People are familiar with my brand, now I need to keep it top of mind.

You want to start with advertising. If you’re an established brand and your target audience is aware of who you are and what you do – congratulations! You’re ahead of most businesses out there. But seriously, this puts you in a prime position to benefit from paid advertising, because what you now need to focus on is maintaining this awareness and staying top of mind. Carefully placed digital, radio, television and/or outdoor advertisements with help you to continue to capitalize on what you’ve worked so hard to create.

What I hope is an obvious disclaimer is that every business and its particular situation is different. While I hope to provide some helpful, general advice and a starting point for your strategizing, it’s important to seek the help of experienced ad/PR professionals who know your market, understand your target audience and can help direct your messaging through the most effective channels.

Do you have another question related to how advertising and public relations are different, yet also work together? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Scale Your Business as a Sole Proprietor

How to Scale Your Business as a Sole Proprietor

As a sole proprietor, you can feel like a “one man band” in your business. While there are certainly perks of running a lean operation where you answer only to yourself,  when it comes to growth, it can be hard to figure out the right way to scale your business.

After all, many people would suggest the solution is simply taking on more employees or infrastructure. But that isn’t your only option to grow. Learn from my tips for growing a business without growing your overhead.

Know Your Target Market

As a business owner, we often look at our target market in the broadest possible sense. But when you feel like you’re just about at maximum capacity for workload, you need to get smarter about knowing who your true target market really is. Quite literally, you need to raise your standards. This means focusing on people or businesses who are most likely to engage with you at a higher level, sign you in to larger, longer contracts and allow you to become efficient in the work you do from them because it’s predictable or residual.

When marketing to new clients, or when prospective clients approach you, it’s important to walk away from something that isn’t a good fit and risks pulling your attention away from clients who are.

Keep Your Bandwidth Clear

I’ve written about bandwidth before and I’ll say it again here. The most common way I see people waste time, and as a result turn away new jobs, is because they allow tasks, that can and should be completely quickly, consume their whole day or week. Every day I outline the core tasks that “must” get accomplished that day in order for everything else to stay on track. Usually this is no more than two or three items – very doable. But I stick to it! I don’t let these tasks slide into the next day just because they technically can. I wrap them up and clear my bandwidth for the next day because, more often than not, a new project comes across my desk and I’m then ready to capitalize on the extra income.

Raise Your Rates

It can make business owners uncomfortable to be faced with the decision to raise rates in order to increase income. In fact, I see most business owners try to do anything else but raise their prices, even if it means using more of their time or decreasing their margins. That doesn’t really make sense!

As I’ve found out from experience, if your project workload is so full that you don’t think you can take on one more client, you need to raise your rates. Why? Because you’re priced almost too competitively if every business around town is knocking down your door. It means you’re a steal of a deal. In most cases this isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. But if you want to make more money without taking on more overhead or employees, you need to get comfortable with raising your rates to naturally eliminate your lower paying clientele.

If you’re honest with yourself, you know that these are the clients that eat up most of your time anyways. By raising your rates, you put yourself on a new playing field where you can charge more for your time and do more of the work you love for you the clients you’re passionate about serving.

Work Smarter

My final piece of advice, and it’s something you’ve likely heard before, is to work smarter, not harder. If you want to create more time in your day, you need to carefully examine your current processes and work style in order to identify the things that are sucking up time without producing results.

Maybe you’re putting way too much time into creating client proposals. Make this more efficient and streamlined! Maybe you’re giving away hours of your day at coffee meetings and networking events. Learn the art of saying no and focus on only the activities that stand to bring in direct income. When you make a conscious effort to clean up your business’s processes, you’ll be surprised by how hard you’ve been working, without really being smart about it.

Are you a sole proprietor or simply a business owner looking to maintain a lean operation? Share the ways you plan to strategically grow your business without taking on more employees or overhead!

 

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How Public Relations Makes Advertising More Effective

How Public Relations Makes Advertising More Effective

When it comes to the relationship between Public Relations and advertising and how each impacts your business, they offer two contrasting, yet complementary opportunities. And when opportunity knocks – especially at two different doors – you are best to open both.

As a business owner you know that nothing should function within its own silo. Everything must be integrated and designed to work together to eliminate inefficiencies and to get the most out of the time and effort you put into a task. This is absolutely true of  public relations and advertising within any given business.

If you’re created an advertising strategy without including a PR component, or vice versa, you could be making a costly mistake that could hinder the effectiveness of the resources you’re pouring into these efforts. First, take a look at the reasons why public relations actually helps to make your advertising go further.

Leverage Relationships

When you’re spending a good chunk of change with any particular media outlet, you grow your relationship with that outlet. They’re there to serve you and make you happy as a customer. Any smart media sales person will do whatever it takes to ensure you’re satisfied so that you continue to come back for me. Use this leverage to your advantage! As a paying customer you have negotiation power to request to earned media in addition to your paid media. Ask your sales rep for the best contact within the outlet to pitch your story to. Ask for them to throw in a social media shout out for your business. Or ask for them to run an op-ed you’ve written. Think of what will be most valuable to you and your business – and ask for it! The worst they can say is no, but remember you hold the check book, and the leverage.

Stroke Egos

Public relations is a great way to stroke the egos of your stakeholders and decision makers. How? When you gain PR opportunities such as a guest spot on a television news show, you can plug in key people who love to be in front of a camera and give them a chance to shine – all while representing your business or organization. By pitching your story to the media and earning a feature story, you now bring real value to your business. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to give sponsors or investors the biggest bang for their buck. What better than to give them a media opportunity they simply cannot buy?

Guaranteed vs. Earned

There is a huge value in paying for your media placement. It’s guaranteed coverage you can count on. You know exactly what will be placed where and when. But this comes with quite a price tag. The beauty of incorporating public relations into your strategy is that this is earned media. If an outlet picks up your press release, does a feature story on your business or covers an event you’re hosting or associated with, you’re not paying for this publicity. Additionally, research shows that most consumers view earned media as more authentic, trustworthy and persuasive than traditional advertising. This isn’t to say one is better than the other. Really, it demonstrates why you need to use both public relations and advertising if you want to take your public outreach to the next level!

Greater Outreach for the Same Price

Another benefit of using both public relations and advertising tactics to promote your business is that you will reach exponentially more people for virtually the same investment. Why? Because advertising has hard costs, while public relations is the earned media aspect we discussed above. Aside from the time you, or someone you hire, might put into implementing public relations tactics to enhance your business’s advertising, there are no hard costs such billboard placement, printing of marketing materials, etc. Rather, the PR component utilizes media channels that are already in place to take your communications to the next level.

Go Deeper with Your Message

Let’s face it. Paid advertisements are very limited. For a billboard, you should really have fewer than eight words. And how much can you really say in a 15 second commercial or radio read? Really, you can only communicate just the basics. But people rarely buy on the basics. They want an emotional connection, and that is really hard to achieve with traditional advertising alone. When you include public relations as part of your overall strategy, you open up the flood gates to communicating your whole story. This can be achieved in a wide variety of ways from op-eds, feature stories, publicity events, community partnerships, blogs and social media and so much more. If you feel like you don’t have the platform to truly tell your story and have the masses hear it, it may because you’re lacking in the PR department. Give it a try!

Do your current advertising and public relations efforts work together to create more effective outcomes for your business? Why or why not? Share your examples by leaving a comment below!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in Business, Business & Success

 

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How to Stay Focused While Working from Home

How to Stay Focused While Working from Home

It’s becoming more and more common for people to work from home, either full-time or even just a few days per week. If your career allows you to work virtually, it’s likely you’ve found yourself trying to be productive at home only to be derailed by a myriad of different distractions.

For the last seven years, I’ve grown my public relations business while working exclusively from home. During different periods of time, that included juggling work with infant babies at home and trying to schedule conference calls around nap times. The good news is, I survived! And throughout my experience working from home, I’ve developed quite a few tips and tricks to that have helped me to stay focused and productive.

Here are my go-to tips for staying focused and making the most of your time when working from home. Take a look!

Make a Mental Commute

When you work from home you don’t have the benefit of a commute. Maybe you’ve never viewed a commute as a benefit, but think about it for a moment. Physically moving from one place to another gives you the mental separation of work and home. During your commute you can get yourself in a “work” mindset. When you work from home, however, you have to make a conscious effort to change from your “home” mindset to your work one.

One tip I highly recommend is having a dedicated office space that feels separate from the rest of your house. This allows you to “commute” to your office and on that commute you can clear your mental space and walk into your office ready to work.

Stick to a Routine

Sure, working from home gives you extreme flexibility in your schedule, but this can also be a trap. To be effective when working from home, it’s so important to stick to a routine. There will certainly be days where this routine will be disrupted, but for the most part you must establish a core routine and stick to whenever you can.

Pick a routine that fits your personality and workload. Are you more effective in the early morning or do you thrive in the afternoons? Unlike a traditional office environment with a strict 9-5 schedule, you get to set your own schedule. However, once you set one, let it give your day structure and stability.

Set Your Work Hours

Along with setting a routine, you also need to establish your work hours. When working from home, it’s easy for work and personal life to blend together. If you’re not careful, you’ll find that you’re never fully present in either space, because you can’t separate the two. By setting work hours, you’ll know that from 7am until 3pm (or whatever you choose) is the time to focus exclusively on work-related tasks. Outside of that time, you must train yourself to put work aside, stop checking emails and shift your focus to friends, family and yourself.

Resist Chores and Errands

During your set work hours, resist any and all temptations to dive into tasks that are not directly related to work. I’ll admit that when working from home, I’ll throw in a load of laundry, put away dishes and tidy up some rooms as I walk through. These are small and necessary tasks that shouldn’t divert you from more than a few minutes of work time. The tasks I’m addressing here are the ones that can sabotage your work productivity for hours. Tasks like sorting out your closet, reorganizing a room or running personal errands can steal hours away from your day and can reasonably wait until the evening or weekend.

Give Yourself Small Breaks

Although you want to squeeze the most you can out of every work day, you can only accomplish this by giving yourself small breaks. Why? Because no one can be productive 100% of the work day. We all need mental and physical breaks in order to return back to a task and be even more productive than we would be otherwise. Trust me on this one. Allow yourself short, timed breaks where you can get some fresh air, stretch your legs, get a snack or cup of coffee and then return to your desk ready to work again.

Close Up Shop!

Finally and most importantly, when you’re done for the day – be done! Don’t linger around refreshing your inbox and fishing around for people to ask you for something. Disconnect, go offline and enjoy your time off. After all, you’ve earned it! The best part of having a productive work day is that you can close up shop knowing the most important tasks are taken care of and everything else can wait until tomorrow.

Do you work from a home office? How do you stay focused throughout the day? Share your tips and best practices by leaving a comment below!

 

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