Home business owners face distractions not necessarily present in other work environments, from kids and pets to housework and even their kitchen. If you find yourself struggling or not working as productively as you need to because of these kinds of distractions, developing a regular work routine might help.
Planning and organization in general can increase productivity, also increasing your chances of keeping your business afloat. I personally started using all of the tools below when I felt like I wasn’t getting enough done in a day. I’ve continued to use them all over the last eight years, and they really have helped. See if any of these might also work for you:
Keeping an oversized wall calendar is great for having a constant reminder of upcoming important deadlines. I prefer a white board calendar for this. I maintain both a monthly and weekly version.
Planners are great for more detailed calendars on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis. I find that it can help to plan not only work tasks but personal appointments as well (like doctor’s appointments or even scheduling in your workouts).
While I don’t use these as often as I used to (thanks to mobile apps and Google Calendar), I do still sometimes use planners to map out long-term plans for big projects.
I’m a to-do list junkie. I have daily to-do lists, weekly to-do lists, blogging to-do lists, and master to-do lists (bigger things that need to get done but don’t necessarily fit into my everyday schedule). I take a little bit of time at the start of each week to create them, and I update them when I finish work each day, bumping things to the next day if needed.
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I used to use composition books for these, especially for longer or project-specific to-do lists. But now I use white boards for those and index cards for my daily and weekly lists (5×8″ cards for weekly lists and 4×6″ cards for daily lists).
Make a list of your goals – how much money you want to make in a month or year, how many products you want to sell this month, how many blog posts you want to write this week, etc.
They can help you work more productively by reminding you why you need to get your work done in the first place. You can ask yourself at the end of each day whether or not you’ve done anything to get you closer to reaching your goals.
It doesn’t matter if you use mobile apps, lists on your computer or online, or handwritten options. What’s important is that you get yourself into a regular routine, which these tools can help you do. Once you get yourself into actual habits with your work, you’ll feel much less inclined to push projects aside for a fridge run or day in the sun.
This post was originally published on August 4, 2007. It was revised and updated on its currently-listed publication date.