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Five tips to manage your time while working at home

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You don't have to be a small business owner to experience time crunch. But, when you’re not working in a traditional work environment, it’s easy to get distracted. Here are 5 tips to help stay focused when working at home:

1) The egg timer is your friend. Practice "extreme focus bursts" by setting a time for 30, 60 or 90 minutes. In that time, vow to get as much stuff done as possible. When the timer goes off, take a break. A real break: get out of the house, walk around the block, sing a song, stretch, or answer those pesky texts that were chiming in during your focus time. You'll find that by focusing under a deadline, you'll get more done. And, by taking an intentional break, your focus will actually be clearer for the next round.

2) Write it down. Don’t rely on memory to keep track of things. A “to-do” list should encompass everything that needs to get done regardless of timeframe. Then break it down by week at the beginning of each week. Using a day planner can help manage appointments, and a yearly wall calendar shows the overall scope of events, marketing campaigns, and goals for the year. Additionally, create a "things to think about, just not now" list. For entrepreneurs, it's essential to write down your great ideas while acknowledging that it can't all get done today. Or this week, or this year.

3) Plan the next day the day before. At the end of each day plan out what needs to get done the following day. Make it clear and concise. Each night, create a list of up to 20 things that need to get done the following day. This could be something as simple as laundry, or checking emails, or even writing and interview requests. As a small business owner, everything that you do has value. By putting everything down on paper (or screen) you can see where you're spending the majority of your time and make adjustments as necessary.

4) Don’t let friends monopolize time! Sometimes people think that they can call or visit work at home professionals at any time. Schedule set business hours, and don’t deviate from them! Even if they change from week to week, make decisions on when to work, and when to accept distraction.

5) Do the most hated task first. Get over procrastination by listing the most dreaded tasks of the day, and put them at the top of the schedule. They will be over and done with, and the rest of the day will be far more productive.

Make this year the most productive yet!

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