Remember how your school days were divided into different subject periods? Do the same with your workdays now. Consider the major types of work you have before you and divide the day into work periods of an hour or so each. Schedule specific time slots to follow up with current clients, strategize to attract new ones, work on major projects, handle administrative tasks etc. Concentrate on one project or one type of work during each period until that time is up. Then, give yourself a break between tasks, just as if you were changing classes. Walk around or exercise for ten to fifteen minutes then return refreshed to tackle the next type of work.

Workdays are so busy that you won’t usually have enough time at one sitting to complete a large project. You’re better off breaking down most projects into smaller tasks. If you allocate certain time periods throughout the day for different types of tasks, you can make progress on all of them. This is more practical than devoting yourself exclusively to one project while all the others are neglected. Of course, there will be times when it’s more important to be 100 percent finished with a single high-priority project than to be 50 percent finished with several of lower priority. When that’s the case, make an exception and reallocate your other work to other days.

To squeeze all your activities into an already busy schedule, create weekly and/or monthly calendar templates. Using a spreadsheet, fill in your personal schedule and recurring commitments; then add your recurring business activities. Designate certain days for certain kinds of work. For example, choose a regular time slot that you’ll do bookkeeping and send out invoices and another when you’ll write your newsletter. Pick a time you’ll do social media marketing if that’s part of your business. Keep adjusting length and frequency of time slots until you can accommodate everything. Not only will you decide on specific times for all of your activities, you’ll also make conscious decisions about how much time each deserves. As you identify tasks that relate to each type of work, add the specifics to that time slot. You’ll quickly see if everything fits or if you’ll need to drop or outsource certain activities.

Once you’ve got a schedule that’s running smoothly, consider entering into your computer calendar so that these recurring time slots automatically appear. If you need to make adjustments occasionally, it’s easy to rearrange times on the computer.

Before you know it, the time slots you’ve reserved for different business activities will fill in with specific to-do actions and you’ll have your workdays automatically planned. That’s not to say you can’t make changes whenever something comes up; that’s one of the freedoms of working from home!

Relish routines

The more you can set up your workdays to operate on autopilot, the better off you’ll be. Your individual style will determine the exact nature of your individual routines, but the key is to have them. Know what you’re going to do each day and jump right in without giving yourself the chance to be distracted by something else you’d rather do.

You may think of routines as boring, but your subconscious interprets them as peaceful and consistent. You’ll save time and energy every day making hundreds of little decisions. When your mind doesn’t have to make decisions about small things, it’s free for concentrating on more important tasks throughout the day. Following are some good routines to incorporate into your day:

- Create a morning ritual that helps you make that mental transition from being “at home” to being “at work.” Every morning, get up, shower, and get dressed. No one works effectively in their pajamas.

- When you work, close the door to shut out distractions and interruptions.

- Take note of personal and household patterns during the day. Work on important issues when your energy and attention are at their peak and household distractions are low.

- Make a list of the three high-priority things you want to accomplish each day and don’t open your email program until the first one is done.

- Process email only at pre-scheduled times.

- Each time you use a file, quickly go through it and see if anything is outdated and can be tossed.

- As you notice or use the items in your office each day, evaluate them. If they’re no longer useful, get rid of them.

- Set up multiple out-of-office appointments on the same day to consolidate travel time.

- If appointments are made well in advance, call the day before to confirm.

- Create a file for driving directions to places you go infrequently so you won’t need to ask or look them up again.

- When you finish the priority items on your list, reward yourself.

- Every night create your to-do list and schedule for the following day.

- Take 15 - 30 minutes at the end of each workday to restore order to your office. Leave your office with a clean desk except for the next day’s folder from your tickler file. You’ll appreciate it the next morning when you walk into an office that’s ready for work.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known organizing and time management expert Elaine Quinn has worked with hundreds of small business owners and work-from-home solopreneurs for more than 10 years. She helps them organize their offices, desks and files; set goals and priorities; and increase their overall productivity.

A work-from-home professional herself, Elaine knows just what it takes to help you get better organized, stay energized and motivated, and get things done in your workspace. If you love working from home, and want more information on topics that will help you, get your FREE copy of her e-book, "15 Ways to Save Time and Trouble for You and Your Business" at her website,