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If you’re an entrepreneur working from a home office, staying productive can be challenging, especially if you have a partner, kids or pets vying for your attention. I’ve found, however, that just a few strategies, consistently applied, will help you get the most from this newly-popular hybrid residential/professional structure.
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
One of the best ways to boost productivity at home is to have a consistent space where you can feel comfortable working for extended periods. An extra bedroom with a door is ideal, but a table in a quiet corner can do nicely. Make sure that the desk, chair, and computer monitor are all at comfortable heights, and if at all possible, invest in the following:
• A standing or sit-to-stand desk
• Noise-canceling headphones
• An ergonomic chair, keyboard and mouse
• A second monitor
2. Get Dressed for the Day
How you look impacts how you feel, as well as professional output. So, instead of working in your pajamas, make an effort to get dressed. You’ll feel ready to tackle the day, be prepared for any video calls and accomplish more.
3. Set Regular Hours
While a flexible schedule can be a significant remote structure benefit, it can also be a pathway to overworking, which leads to burnout. Consider setting regular hours and letting your family and friends know when you prefer not to be disturbed. It’s also helpful to include special “focus” time in your calendar during which you don’t look at to-do lists, email or your phone, but concentrate on getting one task accomplished until it’s done. Then move on to the second task, and so on.
4. Take Micro Breaks
Taking regular pauses throughout the day can be instrumental to boosting productivity. Take a short walk, get something to drink, listen to a podcast or do a quick chore to reset your mind and/or move your body. Even stepping away for five minutes between projects, calls or tasks can suffice — just resist the urge to check email or group notifications so you can return to work with a renewed focus.
Related: Why You Need a Remote Work Schedule
5. Clear Clutter
Getting organized not only helps you find what you need when you need it, it also fosters a sense of being in better control overall. If having a cluttered workspace is distracting, purchase simple storage options such as a filing cabinet, shelving for books and binders or baskets and bins for smaller items.
6. Use the Right Technology
Whether you’re working from home or on the go, there are many free and paid productivity tools for improving business workflow, recordkeeping and communication. Here are a few:
• Edison Mail is an email app for Mac, iOS or Android that features a customizable interface that combines accounts. It offers an assistant, organizes messages and protects its users from SPAM, among many other features that collectively produce a much improved email experience.
• FreshBooks makes it easy to know how your business performs, and aids with proposals, time tracking, invoicing, accounting, reports, mileage tracking and more.
• Google Workspace allows the storing and sharing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations securely from your computer or phone, so you can work from anywhere.
7. Outsource When Possible
When done correctly, outsourcing is an excellent way to boost productivity and reduce stress. For instance, if you’re struggling to keep up with administrative tasks, a virtual assistant can handle scheduling, customer service, even social media marketing. Another option is a bookkeeper to keep finances in order.
8. Track Tax Deductions
You can reduce taxes by keeping up with (seemingly ever-changing) deductible business and home office expenses. Just a few you may be eligible to claim on your return:
• Rent, utilities and insurance — the first two depending upon the home office’s size.
• Business travel expenses such as airfare, hotels and ground transportation.
• Vehicle expenses, according mileage required for business purposes.
• Supplies and equipment such as computers, phones, printer ink/toner and paper.
• Professional services for marketing, accounting, consulting and legal matters.
Related: Top Tax Tools for Solopreneurs
9. Have the Right Insurance
Your productivity could halt entirely if you experience an emergency, natural disaster or lawsuit and don’t have proper insurance. A few types to consider:
• Commercial auto insurance covers physical damage and liability for vehicles used for business. Based on your needs, you can add an endorsement to an existing auto policy or purchase a separate one.
• Property insurance covers damage or theft to items like inventory and equipment. You can purchase a separate business policy or add an endorsement to your existing homeowners or renters policy.
• Business interruption insurance covers lost income if your business gets hurt due to a covered event such as a fire, storm or theft.
• Professional liability insurance — or errors and omissions (E&O) — offers protection if you make a mistake and get sued for negligence or faulty work.
If you’re not sure what type(s) of insurance is needed for your home business, speak with an agent.