5 Ways to be More Productive in Your Home Business
By Linda Feinholz

If you join me at my home office you'll
think to yourself "Linda's got it made!
Great space, no interruptions, a nice
leisurely pace."

What you won't spot are the challenges that creep in when you step out of a business
office setting. The separation between work life and home life dissolves and a new
version of multi-tasking sets in. Feed the cat, check the email, take out the barrels to
the street, run to catch that client call, move the laundry from washer to dryer.

This is the reality of the home office: a new set of distractions and interruptions, a new
game board waiting for a new set of rules, of structures for how to use time and
energy. It's based on my own experiences in both of those environments, and those of
my colleagues and clients.

Every once in a while a regret creeps in -- wishing for the hard wired start and stop
times and disciplines and boundaries of working in an office setting. I thought I'd
share some of the simple "external" tricks you can use to stay on track.

1. Set Your Space

Designate a separate work area in your home, distinct from where you relax and
socialize. This is easy if you have a spare room you turn into your office. You create a
challenge for yourself if (yes, like me) you find yourself carrying business papers and
the phone into the rest of your home. Suddenly 50 percent of your living space
becomes covered in work material, keeping you wandering and too open to the
distractions and reminders of other to do's -- a sure invitation to procrastination!

If you don't have a separate room, define a distinct area you'll use when you're "in
work mode." Furnish it with proper furniture, phone, file cabinet and shelves that are
used for your business alone.

2.  Set Your Mindset

Space is the first element, as it can be fixed. Our mindset, however sure can shift!

Decide what hours of what days you are committed to focusing on work. Start each
day by listing out the 3 to 5 goals you intend to accomplish that day. Whether in the
office or at off site, working in person or meeting by phone, know exactly what you
want to achieve. Hold to that discipline so that when interruptions creep in, or
invitations to take breaks show up, you can ask yourself "Is this in line with the goals I
set for today?"

3. Structure Your Time

Two challenges creep in with time and how you use it. If you have a day with no
interruptions, you can find 5 hours pass right by in a blink - as your back stiffens and
you mold to your chair. On the other hand, if the phone is constantly ringing, 5, 8, 12
hours can pass and leave you with the feeling "I haven't done a thing all day!"

It's more important than ever that you own your time. You can do it with ease if you'll
carve your day into time blocks, each with a specific purpose: gym time, problem
solving time, client call time, meeting time, break time, and so on. Then grab a timer or
alarm, and set it for the length of time you want to use. As you deliberately create
blocks of time, it becomes easier to stick to that activity AND get things done, as well
as to know when to get out of that chair and eat and stretch.

4. Suit Your Self

We humans have a tendency to send ourselves off into trances -- thinking we're in the
'zone' ... yet completely unaware that we're coasting at half speed or less. Know exactly
how YOU work most effectively -- is it alone, or with others? Make it a point to
alternate what you're doing throughout the day. Uninterrupted thinking times
alternating with times returning calls. Alternate time sitting at the desk with breaks to
take a 10 minute walk or so 5 minutes of step-ups on the porch or stair master. And
vary analytical work with verbal, and so on. The shifts will help you check in and see if
you're on track or distracted.

5. Leverage Technology

By moving out of the office you've exchanged advantages: no more long boring time
wasting rides back and forth to an office...but no more casual  encounters to quickly
solve an issue. You need to take the reins and sort out which tool and which venue is
the most productive, not just the most convenient, for getting the results you want.

Phone, fax, e-mail (and even text messaging, oh my) shouldn't be used haphazardly.
You need to communicate flawlessly so that your time is being put to it's highest and
best use, and so is everyone else's. Have a direct business phone line, a separate fax
line (or get a service that puts it into your email) so that you can always be reached
during business hours. And be sure you've got your voice mail message set up with a
professional instruction to your callers.

Oh, by the way - the same techniques will make your productivity soar if you find
yourself back in an office environment too!

About the author: Management expert, consultant, and coach Linda Feinholz is "Your High
payoff Catalyst." Linda publishes the free weekly newsletter The Spark! to subscribers world-wide
and delivers targeted solutions, practical skills and  simple ways to build your business. If you're
ready to focus on your High Payoff activities, accelerate your results and have more fun at it, get
your FREE tips like these visit her site at
Your High Payoff Catalyst.com

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