Monday, January 13, 2014

Say No to Interruptions When You Work at Home

When I started my business 20+ years ago, I worked out of my "home office." Unfortunately, my family didn't pick up on the "office" part of the description, but honed in on the "home." They decided that since I was "home all day," I was the logical person to shop for groceries, pick up the laundry, ferry people to appointments and events....You name it, and I was the likely candidate to be volunteered.

At first, I didn't say no since I hadn't gotten my entrepreneur mindset in place. I was still working on corporate time where I could run errands and still get paid. I quickly discovered that no one was paying me to spend an hour or two away from my business. I also discovered that I was using these interruptions to procrastinate and not actively getting out and marketing my business.

Saying no is not easy for many entrepreneurs. We have family obligations that need to be met, but we also have a lot more business obligations than we had in the corporate world. Now, we wear all the hats, and our job description has expanded exponentially. If we aren't working on our business, we are losing money. If you charge $100 an hour and spend only an hour a day on non-work activities, you lose $500 a week in potential income. That's more than $25,000 a year in lost revenue.

Saying no is not just about income; it is a critical component of long-term business success and  self-esteem. Let's face it, when we say yes to something, and we really want to say no, we are putting our needs last. In effect, we are saying that someone else is more important. We are handing over control of ourselves and our businesses to other people.

I started to say no more often and educated my family that I wasn't "home all day" to work for them; I was "home all day" to work on my business, which helped support them. I set office hours--times during the day when I was working and was not to be disturbed unless someone was bleeding or the house was on fire. It was hard, but I enforced office hours and withstood temper tantrums, begging,
and even bribery.

My family didn't like it at first, but I held to my resolve, and when I put the business ahead of interruptions, it took off. My family began to appreciate the importance of my work when my income increased, and it was amazing how fast they found other ways to pick up the laundry and get to dentist appointments!

See my blog post Close the Door on Interruptions for more information.

Action: How well do you manage interruptions? Share your tips and tools! 

I help organizations and entrepreneurs achieve bottom-line results by improving time management and organization skills. Contact me for information about my productivity improvement onsite workshops for organizations and visit my website for a free e-book 10 Tips for Getting Things Done Better, Faster, Easier.

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