Are you struggling to manage your time when working from home? Time management is the key to productivity and it will make or break your business.
When you are running your own business and working for yourself, you have less pressure from other people to work certain hours and reach specific targets.
However, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be as strict with yourself as you’d expect an employer to be.
The success of your business is entirely in your hands and you need to avoid the trap of letting the day fly by without accomplishing much.
Having good time management skills is essential for growing your business and reaching your goals.
I myself struggled so much with time management.
I felt like I would spend hours doing work without actually seeing any real results. I realised that I was not using my time wisely.
Since then, I have applied these time management tips to make better use of my time. I have been able to accomplish more because I’m more aware of how I spend my time.
If you struggle to manage your time as an entrepreneur, this list is for you. I hope you can apply these tips to your own life to grow your business and achieve your dreams.
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1. Set a fixed amount of hours per week to work on your business
When you run your own business you have to be strict with yourself if you want to be successful.
One way to accomplish this is to set hours for yourself like you would have as a regular employee.
Remember that when you work for yourself you have to be both your boss and your employee.
For instance, if you want to work on your business full-time you might set a target of working 40 hours a week. If you are a work at home mum trying to start a blog on the side you might set a target of 20 hours a week or 10.
The number of hours will vary depending on your availability.
However, having a target and tracking the exact amount of hours you work on your business will make you take your business more seriously.
Remember that if you want to be successful as self-employed you need to take your business as seriously as you would any other job.
Only working on it every now and again when you feel like it isn’t going to cut it.
2. Work during the time of day when you are the most productive
We all have different periods of the day when we feel more awake and alert.
Some people find that they can focus really well first thing in the morning and some people work better in the evenings before bed.
Figuring out when you are the most productive and scheduling your working hours around that can save you a lot of time.
By working during your most productive hours, you will be able to accomplish more in less time.
There are a few ways to figure out when your most productive time is.
First of all, consider the time of day when you naturally feel energetic. Is there a period during the day when you normally feel more motivated to do work?
You could also consider the opposite. What time of the day are you absolutely drained from energy? Do you get super tired in the evenings? Or do you wake up feeling really groggy for a few hours?
By identifying the time when you are least productive you can schedule your working hours in the remaining time.
3. Use block scheduling to manage your time
‘Block Scheduling‘ or ‘Time Blocking‘ is a system of organising your time in blocks of tasks.
The idea is that instead of just writing a list of to-dos, you allot a specific time for completing those tasks.
So instead of just having a long to-do list, you assign each task to a block of time in your calendar. I usually like to schedule 1-hour blocks of time because that is the length of time that I can easily stay focussed for.
Similarly to how classes are scheduled in schools, you fill up your time with blocks assigned to different tasks.
The most difficult part about block scheduling is to hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to schedule things in your calendar but not always easy to follow through.
That’s where setting a timer comes into play.
4. Set a timer
If you know you need to get a task done, one of the most effective ways to motivate yourself is to set a timer.
For instance, if you are scheduling your tasks in 1-hour blocks, you would set a timer for 1 hour and keep it visible as you work.
That way you keep the end in mind and you know that you won’t have to work on it for hours and hours.
You can also think of it as a personal challenge. When you set a timer, challenge yourself to get as much done as possible in that amount of time.
That way you’ll be working even more efficiently because you’re giving yourself a close deadline to meet.
Setting a timer is a great time management tip because it gives you the motivation to start difficult tasks.
I often find that once I have gotten past the difficult stage of starting a new task, I get into a good flow of work and I don’t want to stop after the timer ends.
5. Create a work space
I recently watched this video by Muchelleb on YouTube about making your desk more productive and inspiring and it made me rethink my workspace.
If you work from home, you probably already have an area in your home where you do the majority of your work.
Now, if you consider that space, is it set up in a way that encourages you to be productive?
The most important thing to keep in mind when setting up your work space is to get rid of any distractions.
You want to keep the items that you need to use close and in sight, and the distractions out of sight.
For example, if you don’t need to use your phone for work, keep it in another room.
One way to increase your motivation in your workspace is to keep either a vision board or your goals written down somewhere visible in your eye line.
That way when you are in your workspace you are always reminded of your end goal.
6. Separate your personal time from your work time
It is extremely important when you work from home that you make a clear distinction between your ‘working time’ and your ‘personal time’.
I don’t believe that as self-employed you have to work the exact same hours every day.
I have seen this suggested by a lot of other people and if it works for you to keep a consistent schedule every day then please continue to do so. For example if you want to work 9am-12pm every day or 6pm-10pm in the evenings and you like that consistency then stick with that schedule and mark that as your ‘work time’.
I find however that one of the main benefits of being self-employed is that I’m not tied down to specific hours of the day.
If I have other things planned I can easily move my working schedule around that.
However it is very important to me to make sure that when I do work, I am 100% focussed and I don’t switch between working and personal time.
This means that I need to stay on top of my time management to make sure I consistently work on my blog every day.
I find that it makes me a lot more focussed and productive if I know that I am in my ‘working mode’.
7. Set monthly/weekly/daily goals
One of the best ways to stay productive is to set goals for yourself.
I like to set goals for myself within different time frames.
It is important to have both long-term goals (5 years, 1 year, 6 months) and short-term goals (1 month, 1 week, today).
When you set long-term goals for yourself you visualise what you want to achieve and motivate yourself to get there.
When you set short-term goals you break down those bigger goals into smaller milestones. This is very important because you get a sense of achievement when you reach your smaller goals which keeps you motivated to reach for those bigger goals.
Setting monthly, weekly and daily goals for yourself will give you a target to work towards, making you more productive and motivated to get more done.
8. Break down your goals into actionable tasks
Now that you have set short-term goals for yourself you need to figure out what the steps are to achieving them.
For each goal, write down a list of steps that you need to complete to achieve that goal or a daily habit that will help you reach your goal.
This is going to look a bit different for every goal but knowing the exact steps you need to take and writing them down will help you stay on track.
For example, one of my goals this week is to post 3 new blog posts. I know that in order to achieve this I have to write every day. Therefore, I am going to set myself the task of writing for 3 hours every day.
Now, follow the same steps for your goals.
- What is your goal?
- What do you need to do to achieve that goal?
- How are you going to achieve that goal? What do you need to do daily?
9. Write a new to-do list every day
Keeping a master to-do list is very useful but writing a new one every day to complete will really help you stay on track.
I have been creating a new to-do list every day for quite a while now and what I love about it is that I am able to make it realistic and achievable.
When you write a daily to-do list you want to make sure that you don’t include so many things that it is virtually impossible to complete.
To-do lists work best when they push you just enough to complete all of the tasks, but fail when you feel so overwhelmed by your list that you end up not getting anything done.
Finding that right balance will take some practice but once you understand your own limits it is a very effective method of motivating yourself.
I usually like to include 6 things on my daily to-do list. This includes 1 major task that will be a lot more important and time-consuming, 2 other important tasks that are a priority and I need to get done but that are less time-consuming, and 3 other tasks.
The last 3 tasks are usually more ‘fun’ things or easy household things that need to get done. For example, I will include hobbies such as knitting or reading on my list because I often tend to forget to do these things or feel like I’m ‘too busy’ to do them if they’re not on my to-do list.
By adding a few easy, quick and fun tasks to my to-do list I feel motivated because I can tick those off easily and therefore feel a sense of accomplishment.
The only challenge with this is making sure to prioritise your most important tasks.
10. Prioritise the things that will give you the biggest return
When you have a list of tasks that need to get done it can be really tempting to start with the easiest ones. The ones that don’t require a lot of effort.
The problem with this is that the more difficult and time-consuming tasks are usually also the most rewarding ones.
When you are running a business you will have big projects that you are working on that will require a lot of effort and time. You will also have a lot of easy day to day tasks that help you keep your business going.
Your new projects, the tasks that require more work, are the things that will grow your business and give you a bigger outcome.
The everyday tasks are the ones that will help with maintenance, but not growth.
If you want to make the most out of your time you should focus the majority of your attention on growth. You need to tackle the time-consuming and difficult tasks that will help you reach your goals.
11. Plan… but not too much
So far I’ve shared quite common time management tips. Schedule your time, keep a to-do list, set goals etc.
However this tip is going to be a little different.
I have recently found that when I try to schedule every single hour of my time I easily get off track and tired of not having any flexibility.
As I said earlier I set myself a certain amount of hours that I have to work per week and track these but I don’t set specific hours every day.
I believe that finding a good balance between planning things and being flexible with your time is the key to good time management, at least for me.
This works because I set myself targets to reach and tasks to complete but I have some freedom as to when I have to work on these tasks. This keeps me motivated because I don’t feel like I’m tied down by my schedule.
12. Take breaks
When you are working over a longer period of time it is important that you take a few breaks.
Giving yourself time between tasks to drink some water and move your body is vital for good time management. When you move between tasks without any time in between your body gets exhausted and it can be difficult to concentrate.
If you find your attention wavering after an hour of working on something your mind probably just needs a chance to rest.
For every hour that you work, give yourself a 5-10 minute break. In this time make sure that you move your body, drink water and maybe eat a snack to refuel your body.
By giving yourself a chance to rest and refuel, you can get back to work feeling more focussed and energised.
13. Reflect on your progress
My final time management tip for you is to constantly reflect on your progress.
I truly believe that keeping track of your achievements and reflecting on what you can improve on is the key to running a successful business and reaching your goals.
It’s very easy to forget about your goals if you don’t remind yourself of them.
If you don’t reflect on what does and doesn’t work for you, you won’t know how best to move forward.
Reflecting both gives you a chance to acknowledge your victories and learn from your mistakes.
You need to have some way of tracking your progress and knowing where you want to get to. Only then will you truly be able to focus on reaching for your goals.
I recently wrote a long section about reflecting on your progress in the post below. If you’re interested in getting a more in depth explanation on how and why you need to reflect regularly, I suggest you give it a read.
Now… put it into action
If you have stayed all the way to the end, thank you and well done for getting through all of that information.
Now that you have read all of these 13 tips for good time management, it’s time to put them into practice.
If you feel overwhelmed don’t feel like you have to apply all of these tips overnight. Developing good time management skills will take time.
Just try to take it one step at a time.
Have you got any good time management tips that I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments.
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