Those starting out in a new venture have great intentions of accomplishing big things each day, but the truth is that working alone can be extremely demotivating.
If you’re working from a home office and are faced with the distractions of family, chores and social phone calls, retaining focus is a particular challenge.
But if you’re lacking the self-discipline required to get through your daily tasks, there are seven simple steps you can take that will ensure you stay on track.
1. Have a routine
Make sure you stick to a regular work routine, just as you would if you’re working for someone else.
Elisa Limburg, founder of events and marketing agency elevents, says it’s vital to stick to core work hours when working in your own business.
“This way people know when they can contact you, will take you more seriously and find you more reliable when they know you’re contactable when they’re most likely operating as well,” Limburg says.
Hazel Theocharous runs virtual assistant business Assisting U Virtually and says business owners should have a “to do” list that’s updated every day.
“I recommend updating the list at the end of each day so that you’re prepared for the new day in business,” she says.
“Diarising time is also an important factor for any business owner.”
Also bear in mind that most people work better either in the morning or the afternoon, so recognise when you’re at your best and do the most important jobs then.
And if you’re working from home, set up a separate room in your house that’s exclusively used for work.
2. Structure your day
Aim to conduct and complete tasks within time limits and within specific time allotments throughout the day.
So, if you have a deadline or need to get tasks finished, block time out in your diary and don’t take calls or check emails in that time, Limburg says.
“Managing your own business involves juggling lots of different tasks and different clients.
It’s important to be productive with your time and by setting limits you’ll work more effectively and strive harder to achieve and finish tasks,” Limburg says.
She also recommends that you don’t fall in to the trap of constantly checking emails.
Instead, allot specific times to check emails, unless you are expecting something urgent.
“You can easily get distracted by checking and responding to emails all the time. It also sets a trend that you’ll immediately respond to people, which at times can generate more work,” Limburg says.
Craig Broadbent agrees that emails can slow you down. He was initially running his Sydney content management business, StoneBridge Systems, from home and says he learned early he needed to be disciplined with email.
He set up his email so that everything from news sources was sent to a folder called “Read Later”, and only allowed himself to read anything in that folder three times a day.
And Broadbent could only read anything in that folder once there was no unread mail in his inbox.
“Setting up systems around email has been one of the most important tips for me,” he says.
“I tended to use ‘interesting’ emails that came through as a way of procrastinating.”
3. Push yourself
To get ahead and run a business, you need to push yourself harder than you would if you were an employee.
“You basically have more to manage, so every piece of time matters, especially when building up your business, so use time wisely,” Limburg says.
It’s also important to regularly meet friends and family, exercise or do something just for you, or you’ll end up stressed and unhappy.
“Work extra hours every now and again rather than go on a social outing or watch TV, but don’t overdo the sacrifices.”
“While work-life balance is very important, and although you tend to spend more time on your business than other aspects of your life, it’s very important to find some balance,” Limburg says.