By: Elaine Currie
If you are new to working at home online, one of the hardest things you have to do will be to learn effective time management. Time is too precious to be wasted, so it is essential to remain focussed on the task you set out to do and complete that task before starting another.
There will be numerous distractions all inviting you to wander off course and spend a little time in some completely unplanned activity. For anyone working at home, there will be distractions such as a ringing phone, a parcel delivery, a demanding child, a bright day that just begs you to wax the car, a dog that wants walking etc.
When you are working at home online it is worse because, in addition to all the normal domestic distractions, you have the Internet's own array of distractions to contend with. If you thought controlling domestic life while working at home was complicated, the early days working online will probably seem like trying to perform delicate surgery in the middle of a three ring circus. Offline distractions will quietly tempt you to wander off course, the distractions you will encounter on the Internet positively clamour for your attention.
Working for yourself at home gives you the freedom to make your own schedule and the flexibility to work at any hour of day or night you choose. One of the main attractions of working at home is the fact that there will be no boss breathing down your neck. In the absence of deadlines set by a boss, it is up to you to use self discipline to get your work done.
When you start working for yourself, you will undoubtedly start off with every intention of managing your time sensibly and following a schedule that will enable you to effectively balance work and family life. Working at home online involves more than just good intentions. It requires planning, determination, persistence and unwavering self discipline.
When you first start working at home online, you will be tempted to check your website at regular intervals, you will be tempted to check your sales figures several times a day, you will feel the need to check in at your favourite forums and your email inbox will have an almost irresistible attraction. It is quite natural to feel like this but, although each of these detours from your planned day won't take long on its own, if you add up the time spent on each one you will be looking at an hour or more wasted each day.
Those self inflicted time wasters are a danger in themselves but, worse still is the danger lurking within them. Every visit you make to a forum and every email you read can potentially contain a link that you won't be able to resist clicking. This is where working at home online has unique dangers that you wouldn't experience if you had an offline home business. Clicking any one of those links can lead you to a website full of information that looks as if it might be of benefit to you. There will be offers of tools to save you time, e-books to educate you and advertising that promises to make you a fortune. Your decision to read just one email can lead you down a path that costs you another half hour in wasted time.
The problem with these online temptations is that they tend to arrive disguised as something that will help you in your home business. Ironically, many of them will claim to be able to save you time while you are building your business. After working online for some time, you will develop an instinct that enables you to ignore these offers because you've seen it all (or something very similar) before, but the early days are a dangerous time. Your best defence in the early days of working online is self discipline. The solution is not always easy but it is simple: make a plan and stick to it. Have a list of things to do each day and make yourself work through the list step by step. The best way to do this is to use a system of small goals and rewards to keep you on the straight and narrow path until good time management replaces those bad habits.
If you fail to exercise self discipline and resist the temptation to wander the Internet back roads, you will find yourself spending long hours at your computer with nothing to show for the time spent apart maybe from a touch of eye strain.