The following is a guest post by Allison Wilkinson. Allison is a freelance writer with experience writing for a variety of industries, including business, marketing, personal finance, and tech.
Running a business from home may seem like a truly flexible option, but it also comes with its share of distractions. From that stack of dirty dishes in the sink to your dog constantly begging at your feet and for that special, four-letter word — walk — there certainly can be a lot competing for your attention. Then you factor in your never-ending to-do list for work, and it’s all too easy to let the weight of it all bog you down.
Despite these distractions, it’s ultimately up to you to stay focused and maximize your productivity. Here are three strategies to help:
1. Track Your Time
Everyone pines for more time throughout the day to achieve certain tasks. But to get a better hold of your daily schedule, you first need to have an accurate picture of how you currently spend it. To help you feel better organized, use a time-tracking program like Harvest to keep track of your hours while working from home.
The online software program allows you to classify certain blocks of time by project or client and can automatically categorize basic tools and functions, like business development, invoicing, filing and conducting other miscellaneous office housekeeping tasks. Commit to using the time-tracking program for at least a week or two to get a clearer understanding of how you spend your days. From there, you can quickly determine where you can afford to spend less time and areas in which you should allot more time.
For example, you may conclude that you spend a large chunk of time trying to land new clients, but not enough time providing service to your existing clientele. Or, perhaps you’ll find that too much of your days are spent reading and replying to emails. Once you identify any potential problem areas, it becomes that much easier to find effective solutions.
2. Use an IVR System
Blindly fielding customer service calls can be an extremely time-consuming way of conducting business. And it can become an especially difficult problem if your business continues to grow, as this is not a scalable solution. However, investing in an interactive voice response system is one of the most effective ways to provide better customer service.
IVR systems can be a polarizing topic among customers. But the key to finding success with an IVR system for your home-based business is to choose a top-quality system, like Aspect’s Modern IVR, that puts customers’ needs and preferences first. The Aspect system offers a variety of options, including automated service, visual IVR and the multi-modal option, Text2IVR, making it easier for you to meet your customers’ needs with any customer service issue.
3. Stay Organized and Keep Focused
As a small business owner, you undoubtedly have an endless list of tasks to complete on any given day — and keeping track of it all may seem like a full-time job of its own. But instead of letting it stress you out, take control of your work and organize it all more strategically by using a to-do list app like OmniFocus.
This Mac app can sync seamlessly across all your most-used Apple devices, including your desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet and Apple Watch, for a fully integrated experience. The premise is simple: OmniFocus lets you organize tasks in a contextual manner so that any irrelevant to-dos don’t distract you from your goals.
Additionally, OmniFocus allows you to view and organize tasks in a variety of ways so you can see them from different perspectives, enabling you to better focus your attention and get more done. The only caveat? The Mac and iOS apps are sold separately, ranging from $39.99 to $79.99 for the Mac app and from $39.99 to $59.99 for the iOS app. In the end, while these programs may require a little more investment on your part compared to similar apps like Evernote, they’re well worth the money to better manage your time.