Throughout the 9+ years of advising Fortune 500 & startups on business, brand & organizational strategy, I’ve worked in a variety of office, co-working, and home environments. Since founding DIALOGUE, a series of unique & strategic gatherings for curious minds, I now work from home even more, which has required a new level of focus and discipline. To keep me on track, and to help provide balance to my business and personal schedule, I practice the following three principles:
1. Start the day before
Each day is about accomplishing tasks and moving the business strategy forward. In order not to get overwhelmed with the big goals or get stuck in the minutia of the day, I spend a few minutes every evening creating a “to-do-list”, so I wake up ready to efficiently start each day. This list includes tasks, deliverables and activities that I hold myself accountable to achieve that day. There could be 2-3 major tasks or ten sub-tasks that that lead towards a major milestone. The key is to wake up ready to work and have a plan to get through the day.
2. Avoid social media (as entertainment)
We alI love connecting with friends over social media, yet there is nothing more distracting. For me to stay focused, I limit interacting on social media for pleasure to a minimum. However, social media is an excellent business tool. Logging on to LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc should be done with purpose and with a goal in mind.
3. Make your time count
The best part about working from home is being able to work beyond the constraint of the 9-5. It provides an incredible amount of freedom; but freedom comes with responsibility. Just because you have all day, doesn’t mean it has to take all day. Making sure each hour counts towards achieving a business goal is important for productivity and motivation and for creating personal time and space. Finding a good balance between work and play is one of the most important parts of being an entrepreneur.
The experience of starting and building DIALOGUE a year ago forced me to practice what I preach. As a new entrepreneurial venture, there was a lot of work to get done. I needed to both focus on high-level strategy, branding, creating a product and developing a website. Each process required a different set of skills, focus and time. To stay on track, I would pick one key topic for the day, which allowed me to keep moving forward, develop a good working flow and triage any roadblocks. I unplugged from social distractions — phone calls, text messaging, personal emails and chose one day each week for face-to-face meetings to take me out of the house. This ensured that every hour I worked was productive and moved the business strategy forward.