When you are working at home, it is very easy to become distracted and lose focus on your goals. It seems as if one minute you were working diligently and the next thing you know, your work has been interrupted and an unproductive hour has flown past. Never forget that time is money when you are self-employed and you must guard your time more jealously than a miser would guard gold nuggets.
Running a home based business successfully requires great commitment and self-discipline. Only by exercising self-discipline will you be able to maintain the necessary level of focus. It is only human to be tempted by interesting or entertaining distractions (this is especially true when you are engaged in a difficult or boring task) but as a self-employed business owner, you cannot afford to give in to temptation.
There are two ways to deal with temptation: you can either resist it or avoid it. Being able to resist temptation is undoubtedly a worthy character trait but, personally, I don’t see the point of getting involved in that sort of struggle when there is an easier way to achieve the same end.
If you were on a weight loss diet and know that your biggest temptation is cakes, you wouldn’t keep a supply of doughnuts at home and spend time hanging round the local bakery ogling the freshly baked chocolate sponge cakes and fresh cream éclairs. On the contrary, you would stay well away from all things cake-related, and that seems (to me at least) to be eminently sensible.
If you are new to working at home, tackle it as you would a strict weight loss regime. Put away all sources of temptation and limit, as far as you can, external temptations. If there is a day-time TV program you just can’t live without, record it and set a convenient time to watch it as a reward when you have completed your daily to-do list. If you can’t live without a session at the gym or hairdressing salon, don’t try to deprive yourself, build this into your schedule; a change is as good as a rest and martyrs are not generally the most contented people.
Set your hours of work and tell your family that, during those hours, you will be working at home and will not welcome interruption. Make sure your partner and children understand this rule: don’t let them assume that you are available to them just because you are physically at home. Tell them when you will be unavailable and when you will spend time with them. Even the youngest children can be taught to follow a schedule and there is certainly no excuse for older children (or your partner) to disrupt your work.
Tell your friends and family what hours you have set as your business hours and inform them that you will not be able to take phone calls or receive visitors during those times. Make sure you switch the phone over to the answering machine while you are working, so you won’t be tempted to take any calls. If people turn up unannounced while you are working, make sure you tell them (nicely) that you can’t spend much time with them because you have to work, but you would love to set a mutually convenient time to get together.
If you are worried that making visitors feel unwelcome is rude, consider whether it was polite of them to turn up uninvited in the first place, particularly when you had told them that would be inconvenient. True friends will understand your position and, after all, if you had a job outside the home, they wouldn’t expect you to be able to entertain visitors there.
Avoiding temptation is a lot easier than having to resist it. Save yourself the struggle: employ avoidance strategies, and use the energy you will conserve in more positive ways.