Over the years I have worked with various mentors and business coaches. One of the best lessons I learned came during a period of time where I was highly resistant to making the prospecting calls that were the life blood of my business. I was desperate to increase productivity, but lacking the drive to do so.
During this period of time, my business coach advised me to stop fretting over my resistance, and instead of aiming to dial for “hours” every day, to only make dials for one hour per day.
I thought he was crazy. But I happily complied, secretly sure that I was somehow getting away with something. After all, how was I going to increase productivity by doing less?
The next week he asked me how I did with my new dialing schedule. I burst out laughing and told him that I was chagrined to find that in dialing for only one hour per day, I was much more productive than when I was trying to work for “hours” each day, as I felt a great sense of urgency to get as much done as I could in that prescribed hour.
Instead of dreading the next day of prospecting, I was eagerly watching the clock waiting for the designated hour to come. And once it did, I dialed like a maniac, connecting with as many people as I could before my timer “dinged” the top of the next hour: quitting time. My increase in productivity was monumental.
It was his turn to laugh. And that’s when he explained to me that I wasn’t doing myself (or my family) any favors by refusing to schedule time off or time away from my business. All work and no play was going to leading me to burn-out; it took balance to make any endeavor successful and I was obviously out of balance. He reminded me of why I had chosen to work from home in the first place: To spend more time with my family.
Working from home had turned into working 24/7. There was no more “taking my job home with me,” for my “job” had moved right in! Forget about working part-time or full-time. I worked all the time, until I just didn’t want to work anymore.
Fortunately, the “one hour plan” worked to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for my business. I then increased my “working hours,” for it was impossible for me to run a successful business from home only working one hour per day. But I rewrote my schedule, set actual business hours that I honored, and from that point on, I made the decision to take at least one full day off from working every week. (I’ve since “graduated” to taking two full days off each week!)
By spending time with my family and making time for “me,” I was able to recharge my batteries and meet the next week not only reinvigorated, but ten feet tall and bullet-proof!
If you find yourself lagging in enthusiasm and you find your productivity levels dragging, I encourage you to examine your own work schedule. It’s not difficult to increase productivity in your own business, but like anything else worth doing, it takes a commitment on your part.
It’s easy, working from home, to let your business life overpower your personal life; it’s easy to let the day roll on over into night, and it’s easy (and horrifying) to find that you’ve become a slave to what was intended to be your liberator: your home-based business.
Fortunately, it’s also easy to correct! Start by setting business hours and sticking to them. If you’re working with a team, let them know when you’re available and refuse to accept phone calls or to respond to emails outside of your “business hours.” They’ll soon get the message and stop calling you when they know you’re not available.
Schedule at least one day off per week and discipline yourself to refrain from doing any “business” on this day off. That means no work reading, no phone calls (neither making nor taking), no checking email, no “getting caught up”: No business on your day off, period.
You need to take this time to “unplug” from your business, to recharge your batteries, renew your energy sources, and face the week that follows refreshed and relaxed. The best way to do this is to spend your day off focused on something completely separate from “work.”
Once you’ve mastered taking one day off, you’re ready to graduate to taking two days off per week. Same rules apply: No “work.” Eventually, you’ll be able to add in scheduled long weekends and even vacations! And you’ll learn to keep this time sacred.
By creating “free” time for yourself and your family, you’ll find that your energy level, your enthusiasm, and your productivity levels will all increase. You’ll be working smarter during the hours that you are working, and you’ll start enjoying the benefits of working from home again.