Running a work from home business introduces many fundamental changes to your working life. The main one is that you are now responsible for your own workload. It also means that you are responsible for your priorities and seeing tasks through from beginning to end. As you go through your new business life, you will find pushy clients. You will make errors that need correcting and you will be offered over the average rate for a quick turn around on jobs. How do you prioritise when you have no prior experience with certain tasks?
Make a Daily And A Weekly Work List
This could be a simple sticky note or it could be a meticulous plan in a notebook. Either way, you need to know how much work you have in a given day or week. The “to do list” is your greatest weapon in tackling your priorities so use it well and use one that suits you. It should be simple but effective. Don’t get carried away creating colour coded charts that take a whole day each week to compile. Most importantly, keep on top of it. Cross tasks off as and when complete and you will find your workload easier to manage. Over time, you will start to work out how long a certain task will take and will be able to plan more effectively. Moreover, you will become more proactive during your busy times.
Set Realistic Deadlines
The art of negotiating with a client does not end at an agreed volume and cost. It also applies to working out the most agreeable deadline(s). You need – for yourself and for the client – to be realistic about how long a certain task will take you. Be realistic about how long it will take you when held up against everything else you need to do. If a client really does need a job done urgently, it is best to pass it over than to make a promise you cannot keep. Your reputation will suffer if you make a promise and don’t deliver.
Allow for Interruptions
Is your business one where you expect 50-60 emails per day and countless phone calls? You don’t get paid for these interruptions, but they are work time and you must allow for it. 40 hours of actual work could be taken up with 5-10 hours of phone calls, Skype chats and responding to emails so account for these in your daily and weekly work list. Allow for these interruptions but do not let them govern your working day. Set aside time to answer emails and keep them as brief as possible.
You can’t work at 100% capacity all of the time. Time is money in your case, but the need to relax is also there. Taking a decent lunch break away from your desk, phone or office can help you recharge. Go for a walk, just as you might in a regular job. It will also help you see things more clearly. You will come back to your workspace refreshed and ready to reorganise your day in light of problems or getting through a task quicker.
No matter how good you are or think you are at multitasking, finish what you start and never move on to something else halfway through the task. The more half-finished jobs you have, the more you have to come back to later. Coming back to tasks often require refreshers to remind yourself where you left off. You will get more work done when you attempt to finish something before moving on to something else. One of the benefits of self-employment is that your workday ends when you want it to end.