Home office expert Lisa Kanarek coined and trademarked the term “Working Naked” to refer to how people working from home are without the support of the corporate workplace. Feb. 1 is “Working Naked Day,” a time to celebrate the perks of working from home – no boss looking over your shoulder, no listening to gossip over the water cooler, and no commute.
Working Naked Day is tomorrow and whether you’re working in your birthday suit, a business suit or in your jammies, being productive is important.
Think about it: When you work for someone else, your time isn’t your time … it’s your company’s time. When you work for yourself, time is precious and any time you waste during the workday is money out of your pocket. When you look at it that way, being productive takes on a whole new meaning.
Click here on Wednesday to get your free Working Naked gift – a collection of ebooks and reports to help you grow your business.
While you bring out the party hats, balloons, champagne — a cup of coffee will work, too — to help you celebrate this home office holiday, consider the following 10 ways to improve your productivity:
1. Focus on what’s important. Are you working on something you need to finish today or could you handle it another day? Throughout the day ask yourself if what you are doing is the best use of your time. You don’t have to do a self-check more often than every three hours because, well, you’d be wasting time.
2. Determine your best time of day and schedule important tasks for that time. I used to say that I was a morning person, then I was an afternoon person, and now I’m a “work whenever I can” person. Between my sons’ and my clients’ schedules, I need to be flexible. Concentrate on important tasks during the time you feel more productive and leave the less important tasks for when your energy level is low.
3. Understand that at times you need to work around your family’s schedule. When my sons were little, I worked whenever they napped. Fortunately, not unlike their mom, they loved to sleep so I was able to get many things done every day. A friend of mine, who is a graphic designer, works when his sons go to sleep at 8 pm and finishes his “workday” at 4 a.m. during the week. He sleeps for a few hours, has breakfast with his kids, and then goes back to sleep until around 11 a.m. When his children came home from school, he’s available to spend time with them.
4. Avoid multi-tasking and stay focused. It’s easy to start one project and then bounce to another without finishing the first. I used to be the perfect example. At the end of the day I was exhausted, but I hadn’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped I would. Finally I made myself focus, stay on task and accomplish a certain amount of tasks every day. Some days I’m more productive than others, but overall I’m more productive than I used to be.
5. Use a list to track tasks. Why try to remember a task when you can enter it on a list and forget about it until the day you need to handle it? Whether you use a paper-based system, your Smartphone, or your computer to record tasks, keep your list in one place. Some people get in the habit of using scraps of paper or sticky notes to remind them of what they need to do, but that system has a few drawbacks. First of all, your mind will stop seeing the sticky notes or new notes will cover old notes. Secondly, notes are easy to lose, and the one task you need to handle by the end of the day may be on a note stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
6. Limit the number of times you check e-mail. I used to check e-mail every few minutes because I was sure I was missing important messages. The bottom line is that most of the time I wasn’t missing a thing. Unless you’re working on a time-sensitive project, you don’t need to check your e-mail often. Make it easier to avoid the temptation to check e-mail one too many times by turning off your e-mail alert. Otherwise, you’ll be distracted all day, especially when you’re working on important tasks. Some efficiency experts recommend that you avoid checking e-mail first thing in the morning, but I disagree. I work with clients around the world who are on different time zones so my early morning e-mails may be end-of-the-day e-mails to them.
7. Keep the supplies you use often within reach. When you have to leave your desk to find supplies or files, you waste time and get distracted easily. Let’s say you need supplies from your garage and on the way to get them, you stop in the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee. You pour a nice, hot cup of coffee, head back to your home office and then a few minutes later you realize you forgot to go to the garage to get the extra supplies. You can keep repeating the same exercise or store supplies near the place where you’ll use them.
8. Keep clutter under control. When you work from home, less is more, especially when you have limited home office space. Before you bring one more thing into your home office, decide whether it will help you grow your business or merely waste already-scarce office space. Also, ask yourself whether you have room to store the new item and whether you’ll be able to find it when you need it.
9. Don’t skimp on equipment. As a business owner, any time you lose time due to the wrong equipment, it not only means money lost, but possibly lost clients, decreased credibility, and a business that stops growing. It’s important to make sure you have all the equipment you need to run your business, including a fast computer, an all-in-one machine (scanner, printer, copier and fax), and a reliable backup system, for starters. The key to saving time and money on equipment is to know what you need, what you can do without, and where to find technical support.
10. Let everyone know you mean business. When I started working from home many years ago (before it was cool to work from home), I made it clear to my family and friends that I was starting a business and not available to wait for the refrigerator repairperson or for FedEx deliveries. Mistakenly, I thought everyone understood what I meant. They didn’t. For months, my family and friends continued to ask me for small favors. At first I helped out, and then three weeks later I figured out I was spending more time helping others instead of growing my business. After I turned down a few requests for favors, my friends and family quit asking.
This Working Naked Day, as you celebrate the freedom you have to avoid a daily commute, be your own boss and work your own hours, do what you can to make each hour count. By changing a few things about how you work, you’ll save time in the long run.
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