As a business owner working from home, you grind hard every day, but are you focusing on the most important activities?
Many small business owners choose to work from home for the perks of flexibility and autonomy. Building your business from home saves money on renting office space, allows you flexibility in your schedule, and provides you with the opportunity to make an unlimited income based on how hard you work.
There are, however, downsides to working remotely for your own small business. You can become stuck in the cycle of just doing enough to keep the lights on or risk burn out by working long hours alone. You can also neglect some of your biggest business opportunities by spending too much time at home and not being active in the community.
Learn how to avoid these five mistakes unique to work-from-home business owners.
1. You Don’t Have a Schedule or Morning Routine
When you work from home, you can enjoy the flexibility that comes with answering emails in pajamas after you roll out of bed. You can go with the flow and take impromptu trips to the grocery store or run that handful of errands you’ve been meaning to run on a whim.
Working from home means you can most likely hit the “snooze” button when you need to more often than someone who commutes to an office. While spontaneity and catching a few extra zzz’s is a huge perk of remote work, to be your most productive it’s best to create a routine or schedule that is structured and starts in the morning to set the tone for your entire day.
As ultramarathoner Hal Elrod says in his book, The Miracle Morning:
“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days—which inevitably create a successful life—in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.”
Waking up in a way that makes you feel awake, alert, and prepared for the day ahead is key. Crafting enjoyable, repeatable rituals to start your day and end your day helps you stay on track, while also giving you a sense of predictable balance that is healthy and sustainable over time.
Find what works for you when it comes to your morning routine, your scheduling, and your end-of-day routine by prioritizing according to your values and goals. Here are a few sample routines:
The morning routine
No matter how early you wake up, you can make these rituals part of your morning.
- Wake up at the same time every day | Exercise for 45 minutes | Get dressed for success | Read something for personal or business growth and eat breakfast | Spend family time before school/work, walk the dog, or get started on your work!
- Commit to a daily ritual to get you in the work mindset. This can be as simple as putting in your headphones and sitting at your desk or repeating a success mantra before you dig in, such as focus on the work and the results will come.
- Work hard on the most difficult task of the day first.
Don’t fall into the tiredness trap. Get out and see leads and affiliates if you tend to drag in the afternoons.
- Reward yourself with a quick lunch break. (See the next section for ideas on how to use your break time wisely!)
- Schedule follow up appointments with clients and leads in the afternoon and tie up loose ends with little to-dos.
- Go somewhere to break up the day such as a coffee shop or affiliate offices.
- Use a closing ritual to let yourself know you’ve worked hard and deserve a break, such as taking a 5 minute walk to think about what your priorities will be the next day, what you’re grateful for from that workday, or something you learned that day.
Evenings are for relaxing
- Take a dinner break. You’ve got to fuel the machine!
- Reward yourself for your hard work by taking the evening off to spend with family or your community.
- Get to bed at a decent hour (weeknights are not the time for Netflix-binging a new show).
Try this: To figure out your preference when it comes to your routine, try mixing up your morning and end-of-day ritual, then writing down how you feel each day. Test out new scheduling and project management apps to find one that works best for you. When you find the routine that makes you feel awake, alert, productive, and content and you follow it throughout the week, you’ll maximize your productivity.
2. You Don’t Take Breaks
Simply stated, you need to take breaks. This article in Scientific American entitled “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime” gives you a few reasons why:
“During downtime, the brain also concerns itself with more mundane but equally important duties. For decades scientists have suspected that when an animal or person is not actively learning something new, the brain consolidates recently accumulated data, memorizing the most salient information, and essentially rehearses recently learned skills, etching them into its tissue.”
So every time you take a break throughout your day, you’re giving your brain a chance to absorb new information that can help you run your own business from home most effectively. You will better serve your credit repair company clients when you give your brain a chance to retain key details that matter.
While maximizing productivity is important when running your own credit repair business, so is maximizing your sense of work-life balance. In fact, balancing focused activity with other tasks can increase your effectiveness and bring you more leads.
Know More People, Get More Referrals
Taking a break from brain-intensive work doesn’t need to slow your business growth. While you take a break, you can be gaining exposure in the community and building relationships. As a small business owner, you can collect more leads from neighbors and community members who know and like you than from paid advertising.
If you want to take advantage of every moment, here are ways you can maximize your stretch breaks:
- Chat it up with your neighbor
- Go on walks and be friendly with the people you meet
- Post your business card on the corkboard at your local coffee shop
- Stop by one or two auto dealerships or mortgage broker offices to introduce yourself
Focus on breaks that get you out of the house and into the community to build your community credibility and gain exposure for more referrals. Instead of writing out your massively long to do list and vowing not to stop until it’s complete, plan the time you’ll start working in the morning, as well as three tasks you will prioritize that day to focus your brain on what’s most important.
Try this: Schedule periodic breaks that last five to fifteen minutes into your email or Google calendar, your written to do list, or whichever project management tool or technique you use to manage your day. If you prioritize breaks the way you prioritize work-related tasks and appointments, you’re more likely to actually take them!
3. You Haven't Mastered Your Time
Working in credit repair adds purpose and meaning to your workday and changes the lives of your clients. It also means you can work on dispute letters from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.
In addition to scheduling your periodic brain breaks throughout your workday, it’s crucial to set up bookends to that same workday. What time will you start? 5 am? 6 am? 7 am? 8 am? And what time will you finish? 3 pm? 4 pm? 5 pm?
Set those times and stick to them.
You hear it all the time. Work hard. Give it your all. Give it 110%.
While these well-known maxims have good intentions behind them, from a research-based productivity standpoint, they should be revised. Even credit heroes need breaks here and there. Try these sustainable positive beliefs on for size:
- Work hard during your scheduled work window, then relax.
- Give it your all during your scheduled work window, then go do something fun.
- Give it 100% during your scheduled work window, then enjoy some downtime.
Along those lines, the Pomodoro technique is a workday productivity method based on research regarding how long our brains can sustain focused work:
- Spend 25 minutes working with an intense focus on one task and then take a 5-minute break, followed by more productivity in that same pattern
- Once you’ve accrued four focused work times, you take a longer break
And at the end of the day, stick to your breaks, too. Even if every small to-do item isn’t complete, your scheduled breaks allow you to keep at it for months, at a sustainable pace.
Try this: Schedule specific work in dedicated time blocks. Set specific, measurable goals that you’ll work towards achieving throughout your workday with the highest priority tasks coming first.
4. You Don’t Have a Specific Home Work Space
Just like Batman had his secret headquarters underneath Wayne Manor, you need your own space where you can focus. Regardless of when you schedule yourself to start or stop working, it’s important to pick a dedicated workspace that makes you feel ready to take on your day and supports your overall physical health.
Whether you’re answering emails or working with your credit repair software to run your small business, give yourself the gift of a designated, comfortable space that empowers you to work effectively and stay focused.
Another aspect of setting up your own Batcave is making yourself comfortable. Set up your computer or laptop in a place that allows you to stand up and sit down throughout the day while working. Office ergonomics are extremely important to overall physical health, as we spend so much of our time working - anywhere from eight to ten hours, on average.
“Prolonged sitting time can slow down your circulation and cause blood to pool in the legs and feet, which can lead to varicose veins, swollen ankles, or even dangerous blood clots like deep vein thrombosis (DVT).”
Try this: Having a dedicated workspace will signal to your brain that it’s time to focus and be productive (until your next scheduled break, of course!). Invest in an adjustable workstation or a stand up desk that moves up and down manually or electronically (depending on your budget) and other ways to make your work area comfortable and sustainable for those long hours you’ll be grinding away.You can also surround your workspace with a vision board of success. You can create a physical representation of what your life will look like in a year: vacation spots, the car or house you’ll own, the kind of lifestyle you will have for you and your family, to keep you motivated to push yourself for that next hour all day.
5. You Don’t Mix Up Your Work Location
While setting up your ergonomically correct home workspace is very important, it’s also important to leave said workspace every once in a while to get the best from yourself. By mixing it up and going to work in a coffee shop, library, co-working space office, or anywhere else you find enjoyable every so often, you’re doing a good thing for your mood and your sense of community.
According to the State of Remote Work 2018 Report: What It’s Like to be a Remote Worker in 2018, 21% of remote workers also feel that loneliness is their biggest struggle with working remotely.
But here’s the good news - you can do something about it when you feel isolated within your home office.
Try this: To combat feelings of isolation that come on at times, try setting one or two days that you work at a nearby cafe or restaurant. Schedule it in your calendar: “Go to cafe from 10 to 1 pm.” Or head to your local library and enjoy the social aspect of being around people (even if it’s in a quiet space!) Just write it in your calendar as if it’s an appointment and head on over!
It’s no secret that the number of people in the American workforce who work remote has grown––110 percent over the past ten years––offering entrepreneurs the flexibility to pursue their business goals, while also enjoying a flexible schedule and without a commute!
It’s also well-known that well-intentioned entrepreneurs often work themselves into the ground as they struggle to find balance in a fast-paced world.
Adjust Your Work from Home Routine and See How You Feel
If you work from home, try and avoid the above mentioned common mistakes. And if you’re currently making one of them, don’t worry about it! Just make one small change to your routine at a time and see how it boosts your productivity.
If you feel more productive and you end the day feeling happier, you’re headed in the right direction toward running a thriving business from the comfort of your own home.
Looking for opportunities to work from home and run your own credit repair business?
With the help of a structured work from home routine, a dedicated workspace, and knowledge from a free credit repair class in your back pocket, you’ll have exactly what you need to get started to transform your earning power. Using powerful, automated credit repair software, you’ll optimize your time and get the most out of your workday.