Category: Getting Started

Jun 24 2012

How to Organize Your Home Office to Increase Efficiency

One of the first rules when it comes to organizing your work space to increase productivity is to make the space as inviting and multipurpose as possible. A person will naturally work better in a pleasant environment and can be more productive if they have everything they need right at their fingertips.

All the elements of your work area should be fully functional, and if possible, they should be able to do double duty. For example, instead of having a printer, scanner and fax machine, consider getting the Hewlett Packard 3050A Wireless All-in-One Color Photo Printer, which does all three jobs as one, and even acts as a digital photo printer. If the printer is wireless, that can give you even more flexibility when it comes to organizing your home office.

If you still sit down with a pen and checkbook to pay a lot of bills, consider banking online and using personal finance software and checks that will go in the printer in order to pay all of your bills. Also think about having stamps, envelopes and return address labels organized in a small mailing station for you or your assistant (such as your spouse or the kids!) to be able to mail out your correspondence regularly.

The secret to an organized home is to put like with like and put the item you are using back in the same place when you are finished with it. You may not be able to get everyone in your house to cooperate, but at least assigning the spot can help it make its way back there in the end.

You should have more than one of any office essentials, one for your home office, and one for the rest of the house. Do not let them leave the room. If need be, label them OFFICE ONLY so that you can help remind people that you need to work and therefore need to have all of your important tools at your disposal.

It can be difficult to balance the needs of working at home with living in the home, especially if you are working as a freelancer, but a little organization can go a long way to encouraging you to procrastinate less and work more. A clutter-free environment with everything at your fingertips can help you become far more productive, and enjoy your work more as a result.

FURTHER READING:

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

How to Start Working as a Successful Freelancer

How to Work Smarter, Not Harder: 101 Strategies to Make the Most of Your Working Hours and Become More Efficient and Productive

Green Business Guidelines: How to Green Your Business  to Make it More Sustainable and Eco-Friendly

Jun 15 2012

Effective Time Management Through To Do Lists

Time management is one of the most important skills any business person can possess in the 21st century. We are all very busy, so working smarter, not harder, is the only solution to get everything done and still leave time for the important things in life.

If you find yourself constantly crunched for time and feeling like you are running as fast as you can just to stand still, one of the best steps you can take in the direction of more effective time management is to create a to-do list that you will maintain on a regular basis.

There are a number of ways to do this. One is to simply write down the task as soon as it occurs to you, or enter it on a spreadsheet or in a wordprocessing program. Creating a digital to-do list can be extremely handy because you can reorder the information at any time.

Time management experts suggest that you try grouping together similar tasks and activities in order to increase efficiently and get all of the tasks and activities done in a timely manner.

Another tactic for managing your time and getting more done is to set a specific time for the activities on your calendar. Calculate how much time you will need and pencil it into your schedule. Deadlines can help you focus on the task at hand and not allow you to drift through the day, especially if you are working at home or run your own business and only report to yourself.

We all get different moods on different days, and have different scheduled weekly meetings and other events. If you have a lot of preparation to do for those meetings, do not leave the work until the last minute. Do not leave the tasks that you dislike the most until the last minute either. Make these a priority and you will soon be pleased with how fast you complete those tasks and will therefore be able to get on with other important items on your list. The stress of putting things off or resisting the tasks you hate but have to do can make you unable to focus on other things and prevent you from working at your peak efficiency.

Procrastination is extremely prevalent amongst even the smartest of workers. By setting deadlines, you are giving yourself little or no choice but to get on with the items on your list. It is also good discipline. If the date slips by an hour or two when you are the boss, that is fine, but if it does in reference to a project for a major client, it could mean disaster. Estimate how long a task will take, then double that time to give yourself a cushion for interruptions, computer issues and more.

This is an especially valuable technique if you are working freelance, since time literally is money when you are working on an hourly or per project basis. The challenge of freelancing is balancing the projects you have with seeking new ones and doing self-promotion in order to keep the cash coming in. Managing your time and your to-do list should be seen as your path to profitability.

Check your to-do list each morning when you start work, in the afternoon at lunch, and in the evening about an hour before you plan to stop work for the day. Pieces of paper that you jot down notes on are fine to help remind you of anything that pops into your head or comes up when you are talking to a colleague or client, but be sure to keep one master to-do list on a spreadsheet or wordprocessed document that you can refer back to, edit and change.

You can also print out a copy of it to take with you when you are out of the office or if you are commuting on public transport, to help you make notes, set deadlines, or make organizational plans.

For example, you might get a large project that seems overwhelming to even think about, but you need the money. The best way to handle large projects is to break them down into smaller ones that can be accomplished and keep you on target to meet your deadline.

To-do lists can be one of the most effective means of organization and time management if you use them in conjunction with your day planner/calendar to help keep your productivity level up and your stress level down as you complete all your work and meet all your deadlines with ease.

Further Reading
How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

Transforming Stress Into Success: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Success in Today’s Economy

Jun 03 2012

Use Planning Tools For Time Management and Organization

Many people laugh at paper day planners as the cast-offs of the eighties but there is something very convenient about pen and paper as you hurry through your busy day. A written record of your schedule is always available in your pocket or purse, and you can also jot down other things you need to remember in order to not only help you stay on top of your appointments and important dates, but also increase your productivity both at work and at home.

A planner typically contains information that most people consider important: a blank calendar, contacts list, to-do lists, and other resources like the days of important holidays, depending on the planner and how expensive and extensive it is. Rather than keeping notes all over the place, a planner that you carry around with you every day can help create one main location to track all of your commitments and keep you organized every day.

Electronic planners are handy too, such as on your phone, but you have to be sure to keep the battery charged and know how to use the item and software correctly. You can also use a free email program like Yahoo! email, which has a handy calendar feature that will also send you reminders of important events either by email and/or text depending on what you choose.

Many people love Outlook because it can combine your email with your calendar and allow you to download data for meetings like webinars and coaching events in order to make sure you do not miss any important items on your schedule and that you are always prepared by giving you a timely reminder at least 30 minutes before the event is to take place.

No matter which you use, the paper planner or the electronic one, you need to remember to use it. Carrying paper and pen in your pocket can be one of the best ways to take note of anything important you come across. Combined with a small planner and several business cards, you can network widely throughout the day, organize, and follow up with the people you meet easily. Block out some time to follow up with any leads you get and you will impress others with your efficient time management skills and your great follow up as well.

FURTHER READING

Coaching Business Secrets: How to Create a Highly Profitable Coaching Program

How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office