As solopreneurs, many of us wear about four hats a day — but do we have to wear them all at once? Absolutely not! Multi-tasking gets way too much hype. Today, it's all about focus. We are so much more productive when we focus on a task, complete it, and move on to the next. Let's take a look at how to make that happen.
1. Give your family and friends some guidelines around your availability to go out for a cup of coffee or spend time on the phone. Ask them to respect your time because you need their help to make your business succeed (and to keep your sanity!)
2. When you have meetings or conference calls planned, bring in someone to take care of the kids. Close the office door and put up a "do not disturb sign." Give your business the respect it deserves and remove yourself from your personal obligations for this time.
3. If you have to run the kids to school or pick up the dry cleaning, treat this as a break from work. Schedule these activities into your planner and avoid setting up calls and meetings in adjacent time slots. The stress of returning home in time is overwhelming. You may be tempted to make some phone calls while you're taking the kids to school; enjoy the time with your kids — that's one of the reasons you chose this path. Bunch these errands into groups and accomplish them within a specified time frame. Appreciate the time outside of the office and return your focus to work once you walk back in the door.
4. Schedule breaks for yourself. Work in 2-hour chunks of time and then throw in a load of laundry if you must. But make sure to take a walk, eat lunch away from your desk, or go workout.
5. Explain the reality of working from home to your spouse. Draw a chart if you have to, defining the daily household responsibilities and the number of hours you need to complete your work-related activities. Let them know how important their support is and avoid a complaining tone. Approach this like you would a staff meeting and avoid falling into the guilt trap. If you think you can run an entire household, be supermom or superdad, keep up your relationships, and build a business — all without support, you're going to have a nervous breakdown! You must have your spouse's support and that means that he or she takes on some of the household responsibilities or you hire someone to help out.
6. Treat your day as you would if you were going to the office. Create a "before work" and an "after work" time frame for yourself. It doesn't have to be a solid 6 or 8-hour chunk of time. You can use 2-hour increments if you like. During work hours stay focused on work-related tasks only. During "after or between" work hours, keep your mind free and clear of work. You can do it! After a while it feels great to let the dishes sit in the sink for a few hours — really, it's quite liberating! Set your priorities and enjoy the many rewards that achievement and a reduction in your stress level will bring.
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.