“Darling, can you just pick up my dry cleaning…. can you research for a builder to demolish the shed ….. when you’re out can you pick up some milk!!!”
I’ve heard all these comments over the past few months and I have to patiently explain to my family that working from home actually means I’m working!!! I have deadlines and outputs to deliver the same as any other person that does business admin. Just because I’m at home doesn’t mean I have spare time to do your chores too.
And then there are the people that say “ooh I get distracted and can’t keep focused, how do you manage when not talking to anyone all day?”
Here are my top ten tips for working from home and getting it all done.
- Plan…. plan…… plan. I use an electronic calendar which I look at every day and schedule tasks that need completing as well as appointments with clients. This helps me avoid the “what have I got to do today?” dilemma that can so often immobilise you before you’ve even got going. It has reminders to keep me on track during the day. I have a daily plan and a monthly plan to help me keep on track to achieve my goal.
- Re-plan. At the end of the working day I review what didn’t get done today and I move the calendar appointment to a more suitable time to ensure it is still completed by the deadline. This way nothing is missed and I try not to move it again.
- Prioritise. There are always lots of things to do and working from home allows you the flexibility to multi-task. However, you do have to prioritise from those jobs that are urgent and/or important. Because you have flexibility you can meet that friend for a coffee. However I try to ensure that I only keep appointments in the working day to things that add value to my business.
- Network. This is how I get my fix of talking to people now I’m working from home. Build up useful contacts to either talk through problems you’re facing or get that fix from arranging meetings with clients. I also have joined forums for virtual assistants so we all help each other but try not to get sucked into the deluge of emails they all want to send you otherwise you’re literally just performing email maintenance all day!
- Stay focused. I allocate time for each client/project to ensure everyone’s tasks are completed by the end of the week. But what happens if I wake up with a brilliant marketing idea for a client that I don’t want to forget? I have a list for each client/project and note down these ideas so they are not forgotten and when it’s their time slot I can come back to that amazing idea. This ensures its at a convenient time that doesn’t clash with another deadline.
- Time Management. Now you no longer have a boss demanding when a project needs to be done it’s easy to let time run away with you. To ensure I stick to time I sometimes set an alarm every 30 minutes to ensure that I don’t get sidetracked.
- Ration your distractions. I discovered that I loved to watch sitcoms or crime series. I’d watch one or two episodes and before I knew it 2-3 hours had disappeared. This was not a good use of my time. So now I ration my TV time and if I know I’ll struggle to get out of bed if “Everyone loves Raymond” is on, then I don’t turn it on!
- Schedule chores just like your other projects. They need to be completed but don’t need to be your whole focus. The whole family can assist too, it should not just be your job as you’re at home. I’ve taken to multi-tasking by doing the ironing whilst watching my sitcom addiction!
- Review. You should build in a review of the work you’ve achieved, see if the outcome was worth the effort and whether you would take on that piece of work again. Review whether you would have done it differently if had to do again. Every day is a school day.
- Reward. Build in rewards for your achievements just like any other job otherwise what was the point of working for yourself. I love crafting and making things, so if I’ve achieved all my deadlines then I allow myself to play in the craft room doing something creative.
Hope these tips help you stay on track and give an insight into how my working day is structured. Please feel free to comment if there are any tips you’d like to share.
Kind regards Katrina