When running your own business, you’re faced with the issue of efficiency. You'll have no one to answer to’except possibly your beloved clients’and some people find it much more difficult than being employed. The question of efficiency is of course also apparent when employed, in almost every industry and job.
Even so, by developing routine and using the right tools the right way, we can achieve tremendous efficiency when working from home. Add to the mix the traveling time and money we save, and it's apparent that working from home can be hugely benefitting.
Hopefully these few recommendations will give you a push in the right direction. If you have applications, methods or tricks to share, I'd love to hear about them. Please comment or write to @mrnordstrom on Twitter.
REXML could not parse this XML/HTML: <ol> <li><strong>Minimize meetings</strong><p>Meetings are often both time-consuming and unnecessary. We’re better of skipping them unless we absolutely must get into a room together. When you do have a meeting, make sure to have a clear agenda and follow it.’?????? </p><p>I’m all for personal relationships and getting to know each other. However, it’s best for efficiency to keep meetings relatively short and to the point. While I like the idea of standing meetings, not sitting down, it’s unfortunately not possible for me due to a medical condition.???????</p> <p><a href="http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch07_Meetings_Are_Toxic.php">Here</a> is a suitable article titled "Meetings Are Toxic".</li>
This seems to be a controversial recommendation. I’m personally minimizing phone calls and replacing them with email whenever possible. The compelling advantage of email is that you can choose when to check, read and reply to them, and you can think your response through before sending it, preventing any misunderstanding.
Avoid popups and badges showing how many unread emails you have. Instead check your inbox on certain times of the day or feel that you need a break from what you’re doing.’??????
Some people prefer phone calls over email and that preference needs to be respected. I personally choose to inform people that I prefer email communication and work best when avoiding the distraction of phone calls, and then they can choose for themselves when to call me. Another recommendation is communicating through a project management software such as Basecamp. When used correctly, it will provide a nice and clear flow of information and the client will (hopefully) easily understand the benefits of using it.???????
Make sure you have voicemail to capture the calls you’re not taking. Most people see it as great service when you do timely callbacks. If you can afford it, it’s even better to pay for receptionist services. I’ve heard that there are good and affordable outsourcing alternatives for this; search and you shall find.
REXML could not parse this XML/HTML: <li><strong>Minimize instant messaging</strong><p>The same thing goes for instant messaging’try to limit the use of it to when you are very bored or feel really lonely. Though social interaction is a good thing, instant messaging while working is one of the biggest distractions of the modern world. If you use it for work purposes, or need to use it for another reason, turn off sound notifications and bouncing dock icons.???????</p> <p>This was apparently an issue even five years ago, as <a href="http://news.cnet.com/Driven-to-distraction-by-technology/2100-1022_3-5797028.html">this</a> article on CNET clearly describes. I recommend reading it since it gives you some decent tricks as well as old but still very interesting statistics.</li>
Focus on one task at the time and work at least two hours before switching. If it’s realistic, I recommend working four hours or more on a task. This keeps you focused instead of jumping between projects and brings better results faster.
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REXML could not parse this XML/HTML: <p>As for Mac applications, the most popular ones are <a href="http://culturedcode.com/things/">Things</a>, <a href="http://www.potionfactory.com/thehitlist/">The Hit List</a> and the one I'm using, <a href="http://www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus">OmniFocus</a>. On the iPhone, Things and OmniFocus are available, Google Cal has an iPhone friendly site which can sync with iCal, and my previous employer recommends <a href="http://www.actionmethod.com/">ActionMethod</a>. There are loads of applications out there and a few I find particularly interesting are <a href="http://www.evernote.com/">Evernote</a>, <a href="http://teuxdeux.com/">TeuxDeux</a> and <a href="http://www.reqall.com/">reQall</a></a>
Remember to track your time carefully. It may not be fun but it allows you to see where your time has been spent, how much of it you’re spending on a particular project, and lets you send accurate time reports to clients. Use your favorite software, such as Basecamp or Freshbooks, accompanied by a convenient dashboard widget and iPhone application.
These two opposites can be seen as related and they’re both equally easy to fall for. Working from home without anyone to answer to gives you a lot of freedom. Your full-time job can easily shrink to become part-time, which may lead to missed deadlines and angry clients.’??????
On the other hand, having your workplace in your house or apartment puts it conveniently close. It’s easy to work too much, especially since many people believe there is no such thing as being overworked. If you find yourself stressed, depressed or thinking about moving to a deserted island, take a step back and mind your pace.
Know your limits and find your own pace and working hours; ones you can keep constantly while staying happy and healthy. When you feel that you can, increase your pace gradually. Setting your pace is like building a house of cards’if you do too much at once, the whole thing will collapse.
From now on, your health is the most important asset you have. If you get sick and unable to work, you will have no income and likely no one to rely on. Moreover, it’s important to stay healthy to reduce stress and lead a happy life.’??????
Eat, and eat healthy. Drink lots of water and eat fruit. Get your vitamins down. Take a break and breathe some fresh air. Go to the gym regularly or at least go outside and move your ass. It’ll give you the energy you need to keep going.???????
No, we’re not talking about long romantic walks in the park. Working from home is in many ways rewarding but it will become boring. Get out and work from a caf???? once in a while. It’ll give you a change in scenery that will make you feel nice and fresh. Make sure to have some real homo sapiens around you’it’ll prevent you from going mental.???????
There’s nothing better for the quality of your life right now than having a partner. It’s something no money in the world can buy. He or she will give you someone to think about and someone to do ???????things’ with outside of work. You may think it takes up your time and it does’that’s the point. A relationship will keep your life balanced.???????
It's a necessity to have a dedicated workspace even at home. In a small room at the corner of my apartment is my own space which I call my home studio. It allows me to separate work from spare time and shields me from any distractions. Like Superman, you need your fortress of solitude.
Make sure to decorate it and make it a productive environment. Plants and flowers are important. This may take while and at first it may seem empty but it's worth the time and consideration it takes. Get a comfortable and ergonomic chair. Many people say the chair is the most important aspect of your workplace. Consider using a pen tablet or trackball instead of a mouse to spare your wrists, and keep your desk free from clutter. They say the mess in your life is as big as the mess on your desk.
REXML could not parse this XML/HTML: <li><strong>Organize your files</strong><p>You need to have an organized folder structure both on your computer and in your bookshelf. Numbers are good. Assign a number to each client or project. Better yet, assign numbers to both. Figure out a logical structure to have inside your project folders. You'll work faster and smarter knowing exactly where those PSD files are going and where you can find the invoice you are looking for.</p> <p>Lea Alcantara running Lealea Design wrote <a href="http://www.lealea.net/blog/comments/organizing-your-project-files/">this</a> fantastic article on organizing your project files. Read it and read also the comments below it, you'll find some great examples of clean and logical folder structures.</p> <li><strong>Do what you like, like what you do</strong><p>Last but definitely not least—rather the opposite. This was a motto at my previous workplace and it’s perhaps the most important advice one can give. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s likely that you’ve found, and are doing, what you enjoy. Congratulations, it’s wonderful.’?????? </p><p>However, many people still take on work they don’t like. Sometimes you may have to take one for the money if you want to be able to pay the rent in time. But next time, before you do, please consider if it’s really worth it. Don’t be greedy, be great.</p></li> </ol>