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Working More Efficiently, Not Longer

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

For those who work at a home-based businesses, maintaining an efficient work pace is crucial for fiscal success. Today, these piecemeal workers may need to produce more work for less cost in order to keep up with the market. I found that to accomplish this I don't necessarily need to work longer, just more efficiently. These are my new rules for more efficient work.


Rule #1: Thou Shall Set A Realistic Goal

My number one problem is that I set unrealistic goals for my working hours. I may have four hours to sit alone in my office and work, but I have fourteen unfinished projects. Somehow, I begin my working shift believing that I will complete all of these. In reality, I finish one project and make headway on another before my time is up, and I leave feeling frustrated with myself.

To counter this, I post goals on my desk each week.With the help of a wipe-off board, I make realistic goals for each week. Then, on the second half of the board, I list what other tasks I accomplish during the week. I reference it at the end of the week to see what my productivity rate really was. Maybe I didn't make much headway on an existing proposal, but I did acquire three new ones this week.


Rule #2: Thou Shall Not Let Distractions Interfere With Work

Even if the auction is ending in an hour, there is no time for eBay during the workday. I try to fool myself and say that the item for bid is part of my research, but that doesn't mean that surfing the listings for historical documents up for bid will further my work. It's easy to sit in front of a computer with every intention of working and end up frittering away your working hours on entertainment. Check the news feeds, auctions, personal e-mails, and store sales after your work is complete; it can be your reward.

Rule #3: Thou Shall Not Let Work Interfere With Work

For those who work based on piecework, time on task is important. One evening I found myself putting three hours into a project that I anticipated, and charged, to take one hour of research. It wasn't that the research wasn't available and I'd underestimated my work; it was that I was letting it distract me. While researching I found an interesting fact, interesting to me but not the project at hand. I clicked on that link which led to another link then another, and soon my time was lost. Instead, bookmark the interesting link or make note of it for another time and then focus on the task at hand and only that task. Work with the limitation in mind: I bid for two hours' work, so I need to sit for two hours and have the project finished in that time.


Rule #4: Housekeeping Is Not Work

Whether it's literal housekeeping or office housekeeping, this is not what's paying your bills. Two hours of your workday should not be spend cleaning my office or tackling random tasks. How easy is it to put off work in lieu of cleaning your desk? We've convinced ourselves that a clear desk equals a clear mind; in reality it's procrastination. Instead, budget two hours once a week to do housekeeping tasks and stick to this time limit.

Rule #5: Budget Free Time

It's easier to punch in and out of a typical office, but in the at-home office a person works in small, punctuated shifts. This leads to a point where work and personal life show little distinction and a day off will never come. Instead, budget a free day to rejuvenate yourself. For me, Fridays are spent doing personal tasks rather than work tasks. It eliminates the build up of tasks and stress, and it keeps personal tasks from creeping into my working time. I've learned to work more efficiently, and I have more time at the end of the day thanks to it.

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