Working from home - whether it is your own business or you work for someone else can be difficult. There can be a lot of distractions and it can be difficult to work effectively. I used to train time management, self management and stress management. Below is what I have found to works for me. I believe in working smarter, not harder. I'd prefer to work four effective hours, than eight hours only getting bits done.
Preparing my workspace
My office is my kitchen table, so each day I have to set up my space. It has to be clear and clean. I spend five minutes each morning giving it a once over. This allows my mind to start to switch from breakfast to work mode. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated work space or office, do the same. Set up your desk for your working day. Prepare it, as I clear my kitchen table, clear your desk, don't let the papers from yesterday distract you. Now you're ready to work.
If you find yourself getting distracted. That load of washing staring at you, maybe the floor could do with another vacuum. There are endless tasks that you could be doing and sometimes I find working from home is the worst place to work. On those days I take myself off to a coffee shop or the local library and allocate myself 3 - 4 hours working time. This means there are no distractions (as long as I have earphones for any noisy people).
I have my day very roughly planned out. I do all of my social media first. I usually do it in bed. It is something I do first as I don't always enjoy it and is also something that can be a time sink. It's so easy to spend the whole day checking how many people liked your posts, reply to comments etc (I have all notifications turned off, except comments - I want to engage with my audience and respond to their comments). I have my social media posts roughly planned out for the week and use hootsuite to help me with this. However, I generally post based on what is happening for me and with my clients, so I am fluid with my feed (which admittedly does take longer, but it works for me).
To do list
I have a to do list that I write for a two week period. I start it on a Wednesday. I find it more effective to do it half way during the week. I also have a strict policy. If its not on the list, then I decide whether it needs to go on the list and if it does it can be done in those two weeks (I'm someone who can easily get distracted by shiny new ideas). If not. It goes to a later list. I schedule client time on certain days, as this requires a certain headspace. When I start my list, I also assign U - urgent and I- important. This helps me decide what needs to be done first.
What to do first?
I get my emails done and out of the way first. Current clients are my bread and butter and the most important people in my business, so I respond to any of their questions first. Check and respond to any updates on their Facebook group. I then do anything that is U - urgent on the list. The next thing I do is things I don't want to. That thing on the list that I'm dreading. By getting it out of the way, it isn't taking space up in my brain. Because if I leave it for later, I am probably still thinking about that I don't want to do it, don't know how to do it.
I then just work through my list. I know how long most things are going to take, so when I create my list I make it achievable for my life, workload and clients. I tend to do blog posts and podcasts on the same day as they take the same type of thinking.
Some clients I have worked with like to have a scheduled days. I work best if I have freedom (it's one of the reasons I like being my own boss), but if you have school runs etc, I would advise using an outlook calendar (or google) to schedule your day, or even print out an A4 page on the fridge or in your diary. It is important to over schedule. Allow for distractions. For that phone call from a client that comes in when you weren't expecting.
Whatever you do, make sure you know what you need to do each day. That way you can celebrate when you've achieved it! It's the best feeling and important when someone else isn't chasing you with targets and deadlines.