First appeared in Inscriptions, Issue 39, Vol II
Staying Focused: The Work At Home Daily Plan
Every home business is run by a creative and intelligent person. Why, then, is it so hard to stay focused on your work?
I have found that without a plan, my day goes berserk and I run out of time before I get my work done. That's why I started taking action on staying focused on the job I need to get done each day. The following steps are a guideline to this plan.
Grab That Pen!
Every task you need to do, want to do, and even the things you don't want to do need to be written down on paper. Not just any paper, but a master plan, or to-do list of sort. Each project has a projected time line that either you estimate or your client estimates. This needs to be indicated on your master plan.
Break down your master plan into months, weeks and then days. Each month, week and day will have separate papers listing your projects. You can use notebooks, day planners, plain paper or use a software program for this planning. Take each project from the master plan and put it onto either the month, week or day page depending on the timeline of your project.
If the project is large and requires several months or weeks, then break it down into hours a day and list those on your day sheets, also.
For example: one of my clients needs a new text manual written. This will take a month or two. I dedicate at least two solid hours a day on just this project. If my client needs this project sooner, I spend more time on it daily, but not more than six hours a day.
There must be enough time to fit the other projects and important to-do items into your daily sheet. Don't forget to schedule in important personal and family time, too.
Plan Every Minute
When I have research to do on the Internet, it can be very tempting to surf the Net while I am researching. This leads to link after link of interesting stuff that might not have anything to do with the project I am researching. Before I know it, hours have slipped away and not
To remedy this, I allow myself time for surfing anything that I want to on the Net. This time could be from 30 to 90 minutes a day, or more if my day is not full. If I restrict my time doing the things I don't need to do, then I have ample time to get my projects finished.
Don't forget to add time in for phone calls, mail correspondence, running errands, picking up the kids, etc., into your day plan. If you don't have anyone working for you, then all your work must be scheduled tightly. You already know when you have to get those errands run and phone calls made, usually during 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours. So, schedule some work into your after hours for computer time.
Make separate lists for the things you need to pick up during the week. Then, take the list with you when running errands and you will be doing double duty. Try to purchase most items from the same location, like an office supply or department store. Make sure to keep all receipts in separate envelopes for easy filing.
The time you save by doing two errands at once will help keep you on goal and focused through the week. When grocery shopping, I always check the aisles for office supplies. This could cost a few pennies more, but will save time and gas you would need to shop another store.
Keep a list of frequently called phone numbers beside your phone on your desk. This is easier than a binder or little yellow stickies everywhere. Put a copy of these phone numbers in your day planner, also.
You should have your e-mail addresses kept in place in your e-mail program. Sort them by folders, such as: business, family, friends, organizations, etc. Keep all files in your computer in separate folders, also. This is one of the easiest things to do and saves more time. That I can tell you.
Always back up your business files from your computer to some kind of removable storage. Having to re-do work is the biggest time waster of all (and stressor).
File folders are one of the greatest inventions of all time. Filing is one of the worst jobs ever invented. Make it easy on yourself by filing everything as soon as you get it. This calls for lots of file folders and hanging file folders.
Keep a tickler file that has a section for each day of the month. Put papers into the day that it needs to be taken care of. Keep office supplies all in one place and close by. Put all unused paper goods in a flat paper holder. This keeps them fresh and wrinkle free. I keep mine in a sorter under my fax machine and above my printers.
Chase Those Annoying Distractions Away!
Don't have the TV on while working. Schedule your TV time around work, not the other way around. When you receive personal calls, try to keep them brief or call them back later. Make sure that the kids are busy or taken care of while you do your most important work. It's hard to stay focused while others need your attention.
Don't forget to schedule days and times for housework and cooking. These things have to be done, but distract you from your task at hand. Keep these things separate from your office, and your work will go much quicker.
These are all things I have learned first hand. Having worked for large and small companies and transitioning to a home business (or two or three), I have collected all my learned organization skills and put them to work the best I could.
There have been days when I wished I was back working for the boss, but now, I wouldn't trade my home business for anything (except tons of money, of course!).
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