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Managing your time in a home business.

Is your business still an inspiration, or has the pressure of time and responsibilities started to dull your enthusiasm?

Find your best working strategy, and you'll save time and energy that can be better spent on creative avenues of business and with family.

"Defining Your Space"

Defining your space is admittedly more about organization than time, but there's an undeniable link between the two. Have you scanned 100 emails to find that important reference code?
Are you still sorting piles of necessary documents on your kitchen counter, just so you'll know where they are?
Here, then, is the reason for creating a specific working area. You may be using the family computer, but make space for a file, incoming mail and a notebook.

Enforce the necessity of a cleared working area by providing bins or drawers for other family members, or your own `non-work' related items. (If you choose to organize them as well, all the better, but stick to your priorities.)
If it's a small business, create at the very least five files. One for Expenses, one for Income (let's hope!), one for Reference Material, one for Correspondence and one for Projects (or Customers).
If you deal with very many clients, or companies, give them separate files, otherwise one should suffice. Consider setting up your email with similar `folders' to keep everything organized and easy to find. Perhaps you can sub- categorize even further as there is not the physical space issue.
This section could easily go on and on, but for simplicities sake, it would be best to start out with this system. If you're already well over your head, creating this simplistic organization system may be the best first step, you can refine and itemize the bulk of it easier if you take the time to make these first main files.

"Getting Busy" We've all done it.
A moment arises where you have the chance to get some work done and you go to your computer, or workshop or otherwise, and for 5-10 minutes you browse emails or papers, trying to figure out what needs to be done.
With any home business (and this is especially true when children are in the mix) you need, or have created, the flexibility to work when YOU want. So don't waste time figuring out what you'll be doing. If you are so inclined, create a To-Do list. This may be for the day, or week, or just a running list that is built upon as things come up. This creates an easy starting point when you are ready to work.
Where did you leave off?
What was next on the list?
Do you have 10 minutes or 2 hours?
You will surely have something waiting to be done. If you do not feel the need for a written list, at least have a goal for that day. As a work from home mother, I find that one or two main goals are all I need. And there are always emails to check, accounting, etc. for the slow times. I also have a personal schedule for the week that itemizes my main tasks: writing an article, networking in the forums, checking on orders, etc. This gives me an easy to work from goal map. Although my work periods are broken up, I try to focus on one task a day through to completion.

"Going Up."
Once you have your main task ready to go, than try to follow it through to the best of your ability. Not only will you be free to carry on with your day, but you will feel a sense of accomplishment. If your goal is extensive, for instance you're training, researching or building on something, than break it down into smaller goals. You will find that a concrete goal will give you the ability to get `caught up' in the process. You had a starting point, you are driven towards the finish. Without the enormity of the full project lying in front of you, you will feel free to focus your attention, enjoy the process more and put quality time into it.

instant blogs "Coming Down"
Especially when you are working on a multi-step project, when you finish task for the day, try to slow yourself down by diverting time to some of the smaller tasks; filing, correspondence, telephone calls etc. If you follow this pattern regularly, you will not only find that both the large and the small tasks get completed, but your `work day' will come to a natural end and you will feel ready to separate it from your family life.

"Creating Balance"
As with everything, balance is key. Now that is easier said than done, so using this as a guide, find your own natural rhythm. Working with children will likely break this system up even further (I know!). If you are on your own, you may find it easier to plug on for the entire project even if it takes you into the night. Whatever you do, remember your reasons for choosing to work at home. Based on your original reasons, you will find motivation to schedule a working life that benefits you and your family the best.

Enjoy your Day!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shannon and Cyprian help others reach their work from home goals on their site at http://www.Affiliate-Start.com. They run several online businesses while raising two young daughters.

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