Since I made the transition from teaching to working from home less than a year ago, I realize that it can be hard to manage my time when working from home. It’s easy to get distracted, lose focus, and not get through my to do list. This is something I am continually trying to work on, figuring out strategies that work for me. And I am sure things will change again here in a few months after I give birth to my first baby! But for now, here are some tips of the things that are working for me to help me manage my time while working from home.
8 tips to help manage your time when working from home.
Time management isn’t really about the minutes on the clock. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day – no matter who they are. It’s about your actions, your to do list, and how you tackle those tasks. Time may be something everyone wants more of and generally struggles to get, but if you manage your tasks and your focus, you can get more done with less stress.
Sounds good, right?! I mean, who doesn’t want to finish their tasks and make progress with less stress? If you’re looking for ways to improve how you handle your time, read on.
Keep track of where you’re spending your time.
To get started with improving your own use of your time, start keeping track of where you are currently spending your time. Take note of anything you do and how much time you spend doing each task. But don’t stop there. You also need to track the time you spend doing nothing, or “wasting” time, including scrolling FB/Instagram/Pinterest/etc. Eeek! If your’e anything like me, you’ll realize you spend waaaay more time on unproductive things than you thought! This can be a real wakeup call and it may be unpleasant to see where you could be doing things differently, but that’s exactly the point. It is a good way to see where your time could be better spent.
There’s this attitude in our society that “busy” is a good thing, something to be proud of. But being “busy” doesn’t always mean productive and it can raise your stress levels. Instead of writing down every single thing that comes to mind on your to do list, it may be more helpful to prioritize your list. Take a look at your to do list and zero in on the tasks that will move your business or daily life forward. Focus on the income producing activities, or IPA’s. Choose 3-5 tasks to prioritize, and be intentional about what you choose. If you organize your list with intention, you’re more likely to get more done. Then when you get the most important things done, you can start working on the lesser important things as you have time.
Work with your energy and focus, not against it.
Most people can’t work nonstop. Energy ebbs and flows, as does concentration. Work through your streamlined to-do list when your energy is high, and take breaks when it’s lower. Figure out what time of day you work best and are most focused and plan your work day around those times. Make sure you have set business hours each day and that you stick to them. Maybe you work best early morning before the kids are up, late at night after they go to bed, or during their nap time because you have fewer distractions. Use your energy and focus, don’t work against it.
Focus on one task at a time and limit distractions.
Our brains go a mile a minute. It’s easy to get distracted by other tasks, random thoughts, and external interruptions. Sometimes those distractions can’t be helped, like if you have kids who need your attention. But other times our distractions are things like Facebook, thinking about what we’re going to do for dinner that night, or remembering something else you need to do.
As much as possible, when you settle in to do a task, just focus on that. Close your unrelated browser tabs, use Facebook feed blocking apps or extensions, hide your smartphone or put it on silent. Write down any other task or thought that comes up, then get back to the task you’re working on. It may be helpful to start by doing a brain dump, where you write down everything thing that comes to mind to get it out of the way so that you can focus on one thing. (Just don’t add everything to your to do list – keep it streamlined, remember?)
As you prioritize your list, ask if it’s essential that you do everything yourself. If there are tasks that someone else in your life can take on, let them. That frees you up for what you know you need to do.
Maybe social media is overwhelming to you and you end up spending way too much time on it, time that should be spent doing other things. It might be time to hire a social media manager. Or maybe you need a VA or an assistant, whether virtual or in person, to help take some things off of your plate.
Maybe it’s something not related to your business, like a housekeeper, to help you with other tasks so that you can spend more time on your business. If you have young kids at home, you may need to consider getting someone to watch them for a few hours a day or week so that you have some uninterrupted time to work. Whatever it is, delegate and get some things off of your plate if at all possible.
Set limits on how much time is allotted to each task.
It’s easy for a task to take up a ton of time. Give yourself a specific amount of time for each project on your priority list, then move on. If you don’t finish that task in the allotted time, schedule another session to devote to the task and move on to something else. Progress is better than losing focus and control over your to do list.
Using the Pomodoro Technique can be super helpful for this. The Pomodoro Technique is where you set a timer for a certain amount of time, typically 25 minutes (but you can do more or less depending on your needs and level of focus), and work for that time frame, then give yourself a short break. After a few of these “pomodoros” or work sessions, give yourself a longer break. You’ll be surprised on how much you can get done when you are completely focused on one task for even a short amount of time.
Schedule breaks and meals.
It’s easy to get into a zone and completely forget to get up from your work space for movement breaks and food. Your mood and energy level will suffer if you don’t keep yourself fed and get a little exercise throughout the day. Using the Pomodoro Technique can help with this, as you are giving yourself a scheduled break after a certain amount of work time. Make sure to get up, stretch, walk around, get a bite to eat, etc. during each break. This will allow you to keep up your energy and be ready for your next work session.
Start and end your day at the same times, if at all possible. Routine helps, and that’s part of why so many people find it difficult to transition from employee to work-from-home business owner, or stay-at-home mom to mompreneur. Some amount of structure is important (it’s different for everybody), and keeping to limits will help you to regulate your energy and focus. But don’t forget to give yourself grace and freedom when you need it. That’s the beauty of working from home – you do what works for YOU and you have the freedom to work when and how you work best. You get to plan your work around your life instead of the other way around!
As I made the transition from teaching to a stay-at-home soon-to-be-mom and business owner, I know that managing your time and distractions when working from home can be tough. Even tougher for you mamas with young kids at home, as I’ll find out soon enough! I’m still learning to manage my tasks and will be continuing to revise my strategies as my life at home changes.
What tips and tricks do you have for managing your time when working from home? What helps you to minimize distractions and get your work done with less stress? Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know!
Here is a list of my favorite business tools that I use and I couldn’t do business without. I wanted to share them with you because I love them and they may be beneficial for you in your business, as well! If you have any favorite business tools that you love that I didn’t mention, be sure to leave me a comment and tell me about it!
My Favorite Business Tools
Planoly– I absolutely LOVE using Planoly for Instagram! I batch my graphics every week, then upload them all to Planoly to schedule throughout the week. You can set it up to post automatically for you or you can go in and do it yourself. One of the things I love most about Planoly is the ability to rearrange my scheduled posts on my feed and make it look “pretty” before actually posting. This is a great way to do it if you have a grid and want to keep it looking a certain way! Try it and let me know what you think!
Tailwind– Tailwind is a site/app that I use for Pinterest. I know that I am not using it to it’s full potential, as I am still getting it all figured out, but I love the ability to schedule posts on Pinterest! I don’t always remember to get on and pin consistently, so Tailwind helps do that for me, once I load up the queue. You can also join Tailwind tribes in your niche and share your content there to be shared by others! It is definitely worth the investment!
Gsuite – Gsuite is great for email, docs, google drive, calendar, and more. I even have my gmail set up with my domain, so my email address is email@example.com. And I love Google drive for creating, storing, and sharing documents. It’s a great way to save things that I want to be able to access from any computer or device. It’s also great for being able to share things between my clients/team members and myself when I am working with them on a project.
Acuity Scheduling – This is an awesome tool for allowing clients and team members to schedule appointments with me. I can create my calendar based on my daily life schedule and they can choose a time that works for them. I can also ask them to answer some questions when they book to help me know what they are wanting out of the call, and they pay right when they schedule the appointment, if applicable. And I love that it emails both them and me a reminder the day before!
Zoom – Zoom is a fantastic tool for video conferencing. I often use it when I want to “meet” with a someone online and want to be able to see each other and record the video content. You can use it with groups of people as well, and can see each person who is part of the meeting. Being on video is not a requirement, though, for someone who would rather not. You can also mute people other than the speaker so you cut down on background noise and other distractions. It is also free for up to 40 minutes of screen time.
Canva – This is a website that I use pretty much every day! I most definitely could not do business without it, because it is how I create all of my graphics! A lot of people use PicMonkey as well, but I prefer Canva for most things. And I love paying for Canva for Business so that I can save my brand colors and fonts. It makes it super easy and quick to create branded graphics for my business!
Trello – Trello is an awesome tool for all kinds of things, to do lists, content management, project management, and more! I use it for all of the above. You can create boards privately and use them yourself, or you can add others and have team boards. In each board you can add lists and cards and move the cards around. In the cards you can add comments, checklists, upload files, colored labels, due dates, etc. It’s pretty fantastic!
Stock Photos – There are several free stock photo sites I like to use, such as Pixabay and Unsplash and even Canva, but one of my favorites is my stock photo membership from Ivory Mix. There are tons of high quality gorgeous photos that I love to use for creating graphics and website images. You can browse the different collections she has and purchase them individually, but I highly recommend doing the membership option because it is definitely worth having access to all of the photos! She also has a lot of affordable courses that you can take as well. I’ve bought a couple of them so far and plan to go through more of them as I have time.
Siteground Hosting and the Divi Theme– As I have created several website for myself and others, I have found that these are two of my favorites! Siteground is my favorite site for hosting your website and Divi is my all-time favorite theme! I love how customizable Divi is. I can create all kinds of very different websites!
What are your favorite business tools to use? Leave a comment and let me know!
Many people make resolutions to get and stay organized at the start of the year. (Anyone raising their hand?) Almost as many find that they start strong, then burn out after a week or two. (How many hands are still up?!) That may be because they haven’t found a good system that is compatible with their habits and life/work style.
I have never really been the most organized, productive, or clutter-free person. There’s a reason my “word” for this year is discipline. I need more of it in ALL areas of my life! #reallife So I am right there with y’all, raising my own hand. I am working hard this year on getting systems put in place in my business and life so that I can get and stay organized in my business.
Like business and time management, organization is a very personal thing. There are a million strategies out there, but they don’t always work for everyone. So, it’s important to understand how you can approach organization and what you can do that will help you achieve your goals, instead of sticking to a system that others tell you to use, even if it doesn’t work for you.
Here are six tips that can help you get and stay organized, hopefully in a way that works for you and helps you achieve all of your goals. If you have other tips and tricks for staying organized, make sure to leave a comment on this post!
Six steps to getting and staying organized in your business
Create a filing system that works for you. Organization is a highly personal thing for each individual. What works for one person may not work for another and that includes filing systems. Some people do okay with piles – they know what’s in each pile and where specific pieces of paper are that they need. (Yep, I’m a recovering piler, in transition to using a filing cabinet!) Others need a more robust system, because they don’t like piles at all.
There are many furniture items and tools out there that you can use, like filing cabinets, desktop files, etc. There are also electronic systems. I recently heard about Neat, which allows you to scan your invoices and receipts, to organize the data and can even automate data entry into other business software systems. If baskets work for you, then use baskets. It’s all about finding a filing system that works for you, that you’ll keep using.
Create a system for communicating with clients/customers/team members. Business communication can be all over the place. (Yep, raising my hand here, too!) Some people prefer phone calls, while others use video chat software, Facebook messages, or email for minor conversations and updates. The actual communication isn’t what needs organized, most of the time. But getting those appointments into a calendar is an opportunity to create a new system.
There are a variety of scheduling platforms you can try, like Acuity, Calendly, or others. (I personally use Acuity to do coaching calls with team members.) Those platforms can input the appointment in your own calendar and in the other person’s calendar as well, and can send reminders.
Pick two or three items from your workspace to get rid of each week. Clutter can be a big reason for disorganization, stress, and a hindrance to productivity. Getting rid of a few things on a regular basis can help you to feel less stressed by the stuff. Eliminating the excess stuff means you have less to move around and less to gather dust. It can even help you to get more done, because it’s easier to find what you need – whether those items are paper-based, or tools and equipment.
Even if you’re not getting rid of things completely, make sure to take time each day to put things away where they belong. Leaving things out to put away another day ends up creating clutter and an unorganized office. This is one of my biggest issues that I am working on!
Save email and social media for dedicated times. Make sure clients and/or team members know that you’ll respond during those specific times. Organization is about more than just physical items and calendars full of appointments. It’s also about managing your distractions. It may be tempting to respond to email and peruse social media during your work time, but that can create issues of disorganization, in addition to productivity problems.
Use checklists for rush projects. If you take on rush projects with tight deadlines, it can be easy to get a little stressed, and sometimes disorganized. It’s easy to miss a step and screw up when the pressure of a deadline is on. Checklists can help you to ensure that you complete each step of the project so that you deliver everything that is necessary to have a complete project.
Do you ever see someone else running their business successfully and think, “Why can’t I do that?” I think we all have this “comparison syndrome” at times. It may seem like running a successful business comes so easy for those people, but it so hard for us. Why is that? Let me tell you a little secret. You can do it, too! Really. You are just seeing the tip of the iceberg when you are looking at someone else’s business. If you were to talk to them and have them answer you honestly, they would probably tell you that it took a ton of time, energy, and effort to get where they are at. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that you are not seeing. Comparing yourself to someone else is NOT helping your business. It is hurting it.
When you compare yourself or your business to someone else, chances are you aren’t working your business to the best of your ability because you are too concerned with what someone else is doing. You’re only holding yourself back and not living up to your full potential. As my friend Kelly Paull from Directly Successful would say, “Stay in your own lane!” Don’t worry about what someone else is doing. If you are going to get to where they are at, you are going to have to do the work to get there. So pay attention to your own business and get moving!
Your mindset and beliefs are one of the biggest contributing factors to your business! What you believe about yourself makes a big impact on your business. You may not say anything negative to your customers/clients/followers, but if you are comparing yourself to others and doubting yourself, that is going to come across to them negatively. It will impact how you portray yourself to others and how others perceive you. Come up with a couple positive affirmations and mantras for yourself that you can repeat any time you feel yourself starting to doubt yourself or compare yourself to someone else. Write them down, post them where you can see them every day, and say them often. Remember to think positive!
When you are constantly focused on what someone is doing and where you are falling short (whether it is the truth or not), you are not going to truly be happy in your business or life. You are focusing on the negative and missing out on all kinds of positive things happening around you. Chances are, there are lots of amazing things that you are doing or could be doing in your business, but if you are too focused on someone else’s business, you are not seeing those things. Girl, get back in your own lane and start enjoying what is happening in your business!
Focus on improving yourself
Instead of focusing on what someone else is doing in their business, focus on what you are doing and what you can do to improve. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, compare yourself to where you were yesterday, last week, last month, last year. What have you done to grow your business? Look at how far you have come since you first started! What amazing things are you doing in your business? Write them down! Look at them often and remind yourself how amazing you are. What can you do to make your business better? Make a plan and get moving!
Be you. Do you. People want to do business with you because you are you! Stand out from the crowd, brand yourself, and own who you are. As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.” People will see your authenticity and confidence when you stay true to who you are. You will shine in your business when you stop comparing yourself to others and stay focused on who you are and what you do. You will grow and reach your full potential when you are working your business and not looking around. Are there social media accounts you need to unfollow? Emails you need to unsubscribe from? Mantras you need to write and post? Whatever you need to do in order to keep the comparison syndrome at bay, do it!
7 Things I Stopped Doing In Order To Grow My Business
You often hear people talking about what they did to grow their business. But sometimes there are things you are doing that you need to stop doing in order to grow your business. Here is my list.
Doubting myself. Ah. This is a big one! It is so easy to let those thoughts of doubt creep in. You wonder if you are good enough, have the right skills or the right personality, you think maybe you can’t do it and are afraid you will fail. Guess what. Those doubts are holding you back from what you can accomplish! I ran across a quote recently that I love that says, “You are braver than you feel, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I love that, because you ARE! We all have moments of doubt, but when they creep in you need to kick them to the curb and not let them define your success. Don't let your doubts define your success. Click To Tweet
Listening to my fears. This one kind of goes along with the last. Along with doubts come fears. Many times it is the fear of failure, but sometimes there can be a fear of success, as well. And that fear can hold you back from growing your business. Don’t let fear get in the way. Do it scared, just do it.
Comparison Do you ever look at another consultant or competitor and compare yourself to them and their success and just want to give up? Yeah, that happens to all of us at times. It is so easy to look at what someone else is doing and how great their business seems to be going and think we can’t do it, get jealous of their success, or feel inadequate. But just like an iceberg, we are only seeing part of what is going on and not what is underneath all of that success. We don’t see all of the hard work that has gone in to getting them where they are at now. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle! Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle! Click To Tweet
Copying and pasting others. Do you ever see what someone else is doing great and want to copy them so that you can get the same results? They post a fun graphic on FB and get lots of engagement on it, so you are tempted to steal their graphic and use it as well. Yes, I said steal. Because it is stealing! Don’t do this! Not only can it land you in FB jail and piss someone off, but it is illegal! You cannot just take graphics you find online (or on google!) and just use them for yourself! Don’t get yourself in trouble and/or get put in FB jail, or worse, sued and fined! Yes, it most definitely happens, so that is not a risk I am willing to take! Get yourself a free account on Canva.com and make your own graphics! There are also lots of phone apps that you can use to create cute graphics as well. Stand out and brand yourself! And while we’re at it, try to stay away from using your company’s graphics as much as possible. Yes, they are created for you to use, but if everyone in your company is using the same graphics, then you are not branding yourself and FB may decide to block you (put you in jail) because you are “copying” and not being original. Check out my post on Branding Your Direct Sales Business: The Complete Guide for more branding tips.
Sell, Sell, Sell. Is selling your products all you are trying to do with your business? There is so much more to a business than just selling a product! Don’t just sell, sell, sell. Build relationships! Engage! Be authentic! Get to know your audience! Make sure they are able to get to know you, like you, and trust you before you try to hard sell them anything. Work at building authentic relationships and the selling will follow. If you are in direct sales, check out my post, How to Do Direct Sales Without Being Spammy!
Doing it alone. Do you ever think you have to do it all alone in order to succeed? Most of the people who have thriving businesses did not get there by themselves. They had other people alongside them encouraging them and giving them advice along the way. Don’t have someone like that? Find someone! Is your upline not helpful or non-existent? Don’t let that stop you, find someone else. Maybe it’s another consultant, a different upline/team, or your downline. Maybe it’s a business coach you find or a friend or someone in a FB group for direct sellers or entrepreneurs. If you don’t have any support in your business, I would encourage you to check out this group on FB: The Socialite Suite with Brenda Ster. It’s a great group to get advice and encouragement.
Negative talk. Your mindset and self-talk can really make a difference in your success. I didn’t used to really believe it, but I do now. When you believe in yourself and think and speak positively about yourself and your business, your positivity will affect your outlook, your confidence, and your business. Come up with some positive affirmations and mantras (even if they are not yet completely true) and start speaking them every day. Write them down somewhere will you will see them every day to remind yourself. Mine is, “I attract motivated direct sales leaders who want to do business with me. I am the direct sales website woman.”
So there you have it. 7 things you need to stop doing in order to succeed in your business. What are you going to do about it? Did one (or more) of these 7 items stand out to you? Which one are you going to stop doing? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to help you along your journey!
I’m Melissa Mackey, a leader with Color Street and a new lifestyle/mom blogger. A former special ed teacher turned work from home mama who loves coffee, wine, Mexican food, donuts, horses, and Jesus. Passionate about helping women like you feel just a bit more put together without taking much time out of your day – dry nail polish for the win! Sharing my about my pregnancy and journey to becoming a new mom while working my business. Come alongside me in my journey through womanhood and life. Even though it’s messy at times. Let’s be our beautiful selves together.