All successful businesses rely on good systems to help them create value. Your home based business is no exception. One of the first and most valuable systems you should put in place is the practice of creating a daily schedule.
Set A Daily Schedule
Many people start their business with the desire for freedom in mind. They think that this means freedom from a schedule. Unfortunately they have this completely backwards. It is the schedule that provides freedom by defining a framework for you to be productive, and productivity leads to freedom.
Without a schedule, here is what your day will look like:
It is 8:00 AM and the kids are off to school. You sit down at the computer with a cup of coffee and start thinking of the things you want to get accomplished today. You glance at your email and see a compelling headline. You figure “Oh this is important. I need to see this.”
So you set aside your initial planning and check out the email. Low and behold, there is a link for more information on a topic you are curious about. So you click, it’s human nature, and you’re sucked off into the vastness of the Internet.
You’re stuck reading sales letters, watching free videos and feeling like your learning. Then you get hungry and see its 2:00 in the afternoon, you haven’t eaten anything, you’re still in your PJ’s, nothing has gotten done and you’ve been surfing all morning and are still stuck in email hell.
Avoiding this scenario is is one of the greatest challenges you will face when you begin working for yourself. That is why the schedule is key. Here’s how to start. Your goal is to be able to wake up productive.
How To Wake Up Productive
At the end of each day, make a list of all the tasks you are going to do the next day. These may include writing ad copy, keyword research, finalizing a new site design or planning a new marketing campaign. Set a timetable for each and stick to them. Put your highest value activities at the top of the list. These are the things that will make you money. Block off parts of the day – preferably later in the day – for tasks like email and phone calls. These are the things that keep you busy but suck the productive life out of you. Keep away from those tasks until their appointed hours.
When you get up, turn off the radio, shut the office door and get to work! Hit your list with a vengeance, but stick to the plan. Don’t extend your deadlines without good cause. At first, you will be less efficient and also have no conception how long some of these things may take you. If you get half of them done according to plan at first, consider yourself lucky. Once you get a feel for how long each task takes you, you will get better at this.
Don’t get annoyed if the day ends before your work does. End each day with tomorrow’s list in hand.
Avoid The Busy Trap
Another challenge many home-based entrepreneurs face is spending too much time on their business. This is a habit often formed in a corporate setting where the appearance of activity and meaningless logging of hours is required to make people think you are doing your job.
Often new entrepreneurs retain this mindset and feel that as long as they seem busy, they are being productive. Don’t fall for the trap. You will try very hard to fool yourself if you don’t maintain your discipline. So call yourself to the carpet. Keep a daily log of the time you do spend on every activity.
At the end of the week, evaluate your performance. How much of what you scheduled did you accomplish? How much time did you really spend on productive, income generating activity? Really challenge yourself. Learn how you can improve your effectiveness.
Give Yourself A Raise, You Deserve It
Adapt your routines accordingly to maximize the value of your time spent working on your home based business every day. Soon you will find that you will be getting much more done in less time. Then you have a choice to make. Do even more in the same amount of time, or give yourself some time off. Either way you are effectively giving yourself a lifestyle raise.
Chip Wilson is an author, coach and entrepreneur. After graduating from the Harvard Business School in 1992 he had a successful 15 year career on Wall Street. Ultimately Chip left the corporate world to help other entrepreneurs achieve success and freedom by building their own Personal Economy. He believes in the principles of integrity, passion for success and personal accountability. He also believes in the fundamental truth that that each ordinary individual is capable of extraordinary accomplishments.