In 1986, I started my first company, Generic Computers, Inc., in a spare bedroom in my house. I worked at my corporate job during the day and on my new business in the evening. With the help of my significant other (and future wife), I assembled and sold computers.
After a year of working from home, I gained a business partner, changed the name of the company and moved my shop into the basement of a factory. That business developed into one of my current companies, Top Echelon, a provider of online recruiting software.
Because I started with a home-based business, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is for an entrepreneur to stay focused when working from home.
If you’re a home-based business owner, you know that working from home comes with a lot of perks. You have the freedom to set your own hours, dress however you want and take care of personal tasks while you manage your business.
But, working from home can also be distracting. If you let disruptions take up too much of your time, your business could be at risk. You need a strategy to stay focused when working from home. Concentrating on work-related tasks is easier said than done, however, when you run a home-based business. To keep on track, try these ways to stay focused:
1. Define your workspace
You need an area in your home that you can call your workspace. Think of a home workspace like this: The rooms in your home are designed for specific purposes. You eat in your kitchen, sleep in your bedroom and park your car in your garage.
Doing something in a space that’s not set up for that activity usually doesn’t work. How many times have you gotten a good night’s sleep on your kitchen table?
The same goes for when you complete tasks for your business. You need a place in your home that will give you the maximum focus for managing your company.
Your workspace doesn’t need to be an elaborate office. A simple desk and comfortable chair can help you stay on task and organized. Though sitting at a desk might not be as cozy as your couch, you’ll have better focus. Also designate a place for paperwork, phones and other business materials in your workspace.
2. Create a schedule
When you are your own boss, you don’t have to worry about waking up and punching a time clock every day. There is no attendance management system because you make the rules. But, with the power to set your hours, you're also responsible for completing the tasks that keep you in business.
To stay on track, make a schedule for your workday. Once you’ve created your plan of action, stick with it. It’s easy to get distracted when you work from home. Setting deadlines and working toward goals will help you stay productive through disruptions.
Your livelihood depends on how well you manage time. Prioritize your responsibilities in a list, and finish the most urgent ones first. Once you get high-priority duties done, don’t forget to set aside time for smaller tasks. When administrative tasks pile up, they can become overwhelming.
Use a calendar to record work hours, appointments and deadlines. Keep the calendar organized and up to date. Also mark events in an online calendar that alerts you when important dates are approaching.
3. Take breaks
Your passion for growing your business will push you to work hard. But, you might end up working too much and get exhausted. To prevent burnout, plan on taking breaks throughout the day.
You might feel that you get a lot done by grinding away at business tasks day and night. But, you'll be setting yourself up for trouble. Overloading yourself with work can wear you down, putting you at risk of making mistakes.
It’s healthy to sideline your business responsibilities occasionally to take care of yourself. Take breaks to do things you enjoy, like grabbing lunch with a friend or working out. A change of pace recharges your mind and helps to inspire some new ideas you can apply to your business.
4. Get the right gear
Every job requires certain tools. The owner of a lawn-care service can’t get the job done without a mower. A hair stylist can’t take care of clients without scissors. As a home-based business owner, you also need the right tools to run your business.
There’s no one way to best complete business tasks. Every company has unique needs when it comes to finding the right gear.
Whether you use the tools to stay organized, communicate with customers or create a product, you need to find the right ones for your company. Before buying equipment, do some research. Go over your options, considering your budget and needs.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.