When running a home office, it’s important to manage your time effectively. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do all that we want to do, and if you have to share your time with family priorities, you want to maximize every minute. How we manage our time has a profound effect on what we are able to accomplish, and bad time management produces stress.
So where do you start? The best place to start is with determining your goals. What do you want to accomplish today, this week, this month? What are your priorities? What can you push down lower on the list and what needs to be pushed up?
Next, organize your goals from what’s most important to you to what’s least important. A great model for prioritizing your work comes from Stephen Covey’s 4-Quadrant to-do list . He suggests prioritizing your activities into the following segments: 1 – Things that are Important and Due Soon, 2 – Things that are Important but Not Due Soon, 3 – Those items that are Not Important, but Due Soon, and finally, 4 – Items that are Not Important and Not Due Soon.
Categorize your tasks into these segments and work through your priorities in order of importance. This will help ensure you’re concentrating on what’s most important first, and it will help you to better manage your time.
Time management and organization go hand in hand. To work more efficiently, an organized desk space is the key. Paperwork can easily get misplaced if you don’t have a good filing system. You can also lose valuable time in searching for documents if they are not readily available and easily identifiable. Here are some suggested ways to organize your paper files:
Pending/Tickler File – This filing system allows you to organize your paper files by the day you plan to work on an item. You start with 12 hanging file folders labeled for each month of the year (January – December). You then make a set of 31 manila file folders labeled 1 through 31 for each day of the month. Place your working documents in the day’s folder that you plan to work on it. This will help you in both managing your time and staying organized.
Pocket Folders – Office supply stores have a wide variety of filing folders. One useful type is the single pocket folder pouches. These paper or plastic pouches expand and can stand upright when filled. One way to use these folders in organizing your work is to label one for each of the Stephen Covey 4-Quadrant to do list segments (1 – Important and Due Soon, 2 – Important but Not Due Soon, 3 – Not Important, but Due Soon, and 4 – Not Important and Not Due Soon). You can now arrange your documents by importance, ensuring you’re working on the higher priority items first.
For your electronic files, there are many options for organization. You can set up file folders on your computer hard drive, labeled to clearly identify the contents. You can sync your calendar with a PDA or a phone/PDA combo to keep your files close at hand.
Whichever method you use, just remember to stick to it. Every activity you choose to do has a cost associated with it. Once you spend 10, 15 or 45 minutes on an unimportant or frivolous activity, you can never recover that time. Learn to set your goals, prioritize your goals, and then organize your day to align with your priorities. By doing this, you will be able to better manage your time and achieve more in your home office.
 Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (August 15, 1989)
Roz K Walker is a wife, mother of two, and true entrepreneur at heart. She was the original Director of Social Media and Networking for Our Milk Money, instructor on LiveMind, and owner of RozKWalker.com. Her passion, purpose and goal are to help moms and mompreneurs discover their strengths, develop through personal growth and inspiration, and display their strengths through beauty, fashion, and their chosen at-home career.
Getting started working from home may involve a lot of preparation or very little, depending on what you already have and how far you’ve already gone with your work at home plans. The following is a basic checklist to help you get started.
Of course, you’ll need a computer. But, you knew that, right? Nonetheless, it’s not necessarily enough just to have any old computer. For working from home, you will need a computer that can be your daily work horse – it needs to be up to date, have plenty of memory, and functional USB ports. If you know others who work from home, ask them what computer they use, and why. Also, ask them if they would choose a different computer if they had to do it over again.
Laptop or Desktop?
While you are considering what computer will best serve your purposes, you will probably need to decide between a laptop and a desktop. Most sources recommend both – using your desktop for daily tasks (desktops usually have more memory) and your laptop for certain projects and for back-up.
The ideal situation is a desktop and router, and a laptop with a wireless card. The wireless card plugs into your laptop’s USB port, picking up a signal from the router and allowing you to connect to the internet using your laptop. Then, you can do the bulk of your work on the desktop and grab the laptop when you need to finish something up or work on a project somewhere else in the house.
Broadband Internet Connection
It’s pretty much impossible to work from home effectively without a broadband or high-speed internet connection. Dial-up takes far too long and will greatly inhibit your business capabilities. So sign up with the internet service provider (ISP) of your choice and get set up for high speed internet.
Family and Childcare
Many people choose to work from home in order to be near their children. However, childcare is necessary during your work hours. This can be a dilemma – making enough money to pay for childcare right off the bat is challenging. Try relatives first – grandparents, aunts and so forth may be willing to watch your children for a few hours a week each, and for free.
Then you can check into mother’s helpers; these are childcare providers who come into your home and take care of your children while you are there. Mother’s helpers are much less expensive than conventional babysitters, because you are on the premises and the helper is using your home.
Babysitters who will watch your child in their home are more expensive. If your children are in school, you can arrange your work hours around their school hours.
While this goes on your checklist, it’s highly individualized. Some people are happy with a workspace in the corner of their kitchen; others prefer an entire room dedicated to being the home office. The important thing is to have some kind of area set aside for you to work in. This helps you get in ‘work mode’ more quickly since you will associate your surroundings with working, and it also sends a signal to other family members that you are working when you are in that area.
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.
Do you work from home? Would you like to? More and more people are moving home to work, and I couldn’t be happier for them! Although the circumstances around these situations aren’t always the best; lost jobs for instance, I firmly believe that at least for women, families are much happier in the long run. Even if it means sacrificing a playroom for a home office, kids will have a better life with Mama close at hand. Trust me, it doesn’t take long to get used to picking up toys off the living room floor every night. Think of it as exercise. Back straight, bend, squat, up and again…2,3,4.
I went back to finish college when my firstborn was 3 months old. (Insert sound of heart wrenching). A couple of years later, after waiting tables for a full year while trying to launch my business, I was finally able to chuck my apron, pack my brief case and come home. I’m still working from home 25 years later. (Check my notes on face book for the whole story).
There were a couple of stints over those two and a half decades that I tried to – brace yourself, I’m about to say it – work a job. There. Whew! I got it out. Those experiences lasted about 6 months each and were truly wonderful in many ways, but honestly, I couldn’t wait to get back home. Besides, I was still running my home-based business so my work load was heavy.
Are you contemplating a change of lifestyle? Would you like support? Please email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll sign you up for Two Months FREE Membership to my monthly Mama Come Home! teleclasses.
Judith Cassis,C.Ht. is a Personal Development Consultant with 26 years experience. Known as “The Bounce-Back Coach”, she works with people who are “bouncing back” from failure, loss or tragedy. Judith is co-owner of a small newspaper,Tidbits of Santa Clarita Valley, www.tidbitsscv.com a family business she and her husband, Lee Cadena run with their sons. Through a monthly teleseries, Mama Come Home, Judith supports mothers in staying home or returning home to raise their children.
Writtem by Guest Blogger Chris Mancini
The title is not an exaggeration. Last year, comedian Graham Elwood and I started comedyfilmnerds.com since we were so tired of trying to get work with web companies or any other company for that matter. So we thought we should just become competitors. Of course we were doing it all ourselves and on less than a shoestring. So everything took longer and the credit card balances went up for both of us.
Our goals were ambitious. We wanted to feature movie reviews and columns written by professional comedians, interviews and comedy CDs, DVDs and books available for sale along with movie downloads. We’re a mix of Filmthreat, Amazon and ITunes. So our site was cobbled together with duct tape and off we went. And then it crashed and didn’t work. Many times. That has mostly been corrected.
Audge was on maternity leave while we started everything. We were so excited. We moved my office into the garage and that was going to be the baby’s bedroom. At first I was disappointed but if anyone with children knows, to have a room detached from the rest of the house is much more awesome than either parent will let on to the other.
So every Tuesday Graham comes over and we play “internet moguls” in the garage. We have a blast. We laugh, work, and strategize. And then we try to slowly learn how to get people to come to our website.
But my wife’s maternity leave ended and she soon went back to work and I was suddenly a stay at home dad/comedian/author/filmmaker/web guy. It’s been tough, but we’re getting through it. We’re both working double shifts as we switch off from work and childcare duties and try and get a few hours of sleep in the process. Between working on the website, finishing the book and doing an occasional show there wasn’t been much time left.
So Graham and I shifted our website schedule to later in the day and my son Griffin was now part of the mix. He would be present at the reading of the minutes and have voting rights during board meetings.
So now Griffin is almost a year old, and it’s been about a year since we launched the site. But now Griffin is crawling and he won’t stay in the “bouncy chair” whileF Graham and I struggle and take an hour to try and add a jpeg image of a T-shirt to our online shopping cart.
There are times when Graham holds the baby as I look up a purchase order or find out who Doug Benson is supposed to make a CD out to. The first time I asked him I just flat out said, “Is that weird, that I’m asking you to hold the baby?” He laughed and said no, he has many nieces and nephews and much practice. So I gave Griffin to Graham and he instantly took to him and tried to rip his necklace off. I think it was made of shark teeth or something because Graham’s a surfer and they… all fight sharks, right?
Now you expect comedians to make you laugh, get drunk, hit on waitresses and pass out in a back alley of a club somewhere. OK, we’ve all done it. But it’s a weird picture to see two comedians taking care of a baby. It’s an especially weird picture for the actual comedians.
But here’s the thing: I’ve never been happier. I’m doing my own thing. Taking care of my baby, running a business and there is no one to answer to. If I’m going to learn how to use a website content management system and learn how to use Microsoft Accounting (and I’m still learning, very slowly), I’m going to do it for me, and not anyone else.
I’m sure our company would be making millions of dollars right now if we had things like a staff and a marketing budget. And maybe a new computer. But it is making a little money, thanks to the support of comedy and film fans, comedians, filmmakers, advertisers and other people supporting us along with one intern who is trying to figure out a nice way of telling us she’s too busy to help us anymore. And of course the support from OMM during my book release (PACIFY ME: A HANDBOOK FOR THE FREAKED OUT NEW DAD) has been amazing.
We’re in the middle of rebuilding comedyfilmnerds.com (we originally called it comedyfilmnerdsdotcom.com but it was screwing up navigation and links) and my son is getting bigger. I can see the growth in every part of my life right now, and it feels good. Having children changes your perspective for the better. WAY better. And starting my own business has changed it even more. I’m not “industry obsessed” or constantly “waiting for someone to call me back” anymore. And even if I’m having a bad day, Griffin smiles at me and then it simply doesn’t matter anymore. Now about that million dollars…
Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” is now available for purchase. Enter to win the book for FREE!