Are You Making Any of These 5 Common Work-from-Home Mistakes?
Running a home-based business can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you're able to pursue your passion on your own time. On the other hand, it's easy for the line between work and home life to get blurred.
Here's how to regain focus, maximize productivity, and minimize distractions when you work from home.
Mistake #1: Letting Distractions Disrupt Your Day
It's easy to get distracted when dishes are piled a mile high in the sink, kids and pets are making noise, the phone is ringing, and dinner is waiting to be prepared. With life pulling you in a dozen directions, getting work done can be an uphill battle.
The best way to combat distractions that hinder your productivity? Have clear boundaries and communicate them with your family. It's as simple as telling your loved ones you need quiet time from 10 AM to noon, or whatever time period you need to focus on work.
Of course, once you pop open your laptop you have more distractions. Turn off those email notifications, close Facebook, and set the timer.
Work on your business until the timer goes off, then, take a break to do those chores or check emails. You'll feel less frazzled, and more productive, when you take control of your schedule.
Mistake #2: Working Too Much or Too Little
Balancing work with the rest of your life is just as much of a struggle for an entrepreneur as it is for an employee.
Too many hours spent growing your business can cause you to feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family. Too few and you may feel the guilt of not doing enough to help your team, if you have one, or your customers.
What to do?
There are many ways to increase your productivity so you get more done in less time. One of the best ways is to stop trying to multitask.
That's right: stop multitasking. When you focus on completing one project at a time, then check your emails or return phone calls, you’ll be amazed how much more you get done in a fraction of the time.
Another way to improve your efficiency is to work when you're most productive. Are you a morning person? Try getting up an hour earlier to tackle your top priority. You could be finished with your most important task before the rest of the household wakes up. If you work best in the late hours of the night, save important work for after you put the kids to bed.
Mistake #3: Using the Kitchen Table as Your Desk
The kitchen table is usually the center of chaos: kids trying to get ready for school (and spilling milk on your invoices), pets begging at your heels, and so on. Needless to say, the kitchen is not the place to set up your desk.
Set up a real desk, preferably in a room you can dedicate as your personal office. It's much easier to stay organized when everything is in one place. And you’ll be able to shut the door. For a fun way to keep all your important documents in order, check out our article on Office Organization Using Binder Labels or browse our other organizing solutions.
Mistake #4: Neglecting Business Taxes and Deductions
Speaking of home office, are you taking advantage of the home office deduction on your tax return? As a self-employed individual, you get to deduct mileage, meals, phone, and other expenses directly related to your business. Save those receipts. Our article on Organizing Business Receipts will help you keep everything well-organized for tax time.
Another thing to keep in mind is estimated taxes. You may need to pay taxes on a quarterly basis, or risk having a high tax bill and penalties on April 15th. Know the IRS guidelines on estimated taxes or talk with your accountant so you aren't surprised.
You should also check out small business benefits you may qualify for through your local or state government. We list out those + federal government assistance programs in our article, Small Business Benefits You May Qualify For.
Mistake #5: Becoming a Work-from-Home Hermit
Working from home can be rewarding, but it can also be isolating. Not interacting with partners, peers, and customers face-to-face can make you lose touch with the outside world. This is why it's so important to go to conferences and other events where you can network with others. Business is about building relationships, after all.
Aside from professional associations you may already belong to, Meetup.com is a great source for looking up events in your area. You could also join a local referral group that can help you not only grow your own business, but help others do the same. If you're a "mompreneur," for example, you can try joining a local chapter of Business Among Moms.
When you avoid these five common work from home mistakes, you'll get more done, have plenty of time for family responsibilities, and enjoy a fulfilling career whether you are a full-time mompreneur, work remotely, or a freelancer.
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