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Basic Essentials

Basic Essentials

October 11, 2005
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" excessive time investment is common to all forms of self-employment "

Every new webmaster that enters this business does so with stars in his or her eyes. No more boss to call the shots, work your own hours, when you want, how you want. As time moves forward, the clock spins, the light at your desk burns longer and longer. Soon you are working 14 hours or more every day. The wife wants to go out, you have to re-introduce yourself to your kids at dinner. Perhaps little arguments begin to surface about how long you are at your computer, how you don't seem to have time for anyone or anything else. Friends call wondering if you are still alive since they haven't heard from you in so long.

Does any of this sound familiar? If not, congratulations, you are one of the few who have effectively managed your time. If not, welcome to the world of self-employment; and fear not, this is a common problem with not only home-based businesses but also self-employment as a whole. The problem is not restricted to newcomers, either, as veteran webmasters fall victim to this cycle of time investment every bit as much, even if they don't recognize it.

While excessive time investment is common to all forms of self-employment, there are unique issues to those in home-based businesses. Since that is the case where most webmasters find themselves, this article is going to focus on those issues and what you can do about it.

By far, the largest issue facing home-based business is the problem of integration. When you worked out of your home, you were away, obviously working and not easily contacted for every little thing that occurs. Now that you are sitting at you desk in your house, everything is a distraction. The phone rings, the kid tugs on your shirtsleeve, your spouse wants to talk about something that caught their attention, and hey, what is that dog up to making all that noise? Many times the distractions are so subtle, they go un-noticed, but noticed or not, they have a negative impact on your effectiveness.

So what we must remember to do is not only effectively manage, but also balance the three basic elements of life. Those of course being Work, Rest and Play. Sounds easy and basic, yes?

When it's time to work, it's time to work, you need to isolate yourself from the "little things" that make up a normal day. Perhaps having that desk in the dinning area wasn't such a grand idea. When you worked out of the house, you were physically not available. Working at home needs to enjoy the same advantage of focus. Now might be a good time to remodel that corner of the garage, make sure it has a door on it. If a telephone is required, don't use your family phone. Phone service is cheap these days, get a different line so you won't be fielding calls from family or friends.

Schedule your day, don't just wing it. Just like when you worked out of home, you have certain things that must be accomplished. Develop a routine that addresses those issues. Make yourself some work hours and stick to them. Yes, working at home does allow for certain flexibility, but recognize that flexibility should not compromise dedicated work time.

Make quitting time a fact rather than a floating variable. Whatever hours you choose to work, they should contain a time to call it quits. That is probably the hardest thing to do for the work-aholics among us. But if you have a family or even friends waiting to be included in your life, it is essential that you develop a set time that they can equate to you "coming home from work." Doing so will help encourage them to not disturb you with life's incidentals during your workday.

Finally, you have to take time off, just like when you worked out of your home. If weekends are your thing, then do that. Consider yourself closed for the weekend at closing time on Friday. "Play time" or simply time off is an essential element to preventing "burn out," and if there is a family involved, may prevent something far worse.

Most of us instinctively know these things and therefore this article may have seemed quite basic. In practice however, most of us, myself included, often find ourselves far too wrapped up in the drive for success – and these common sense issues quickly fall by the wayside. Once upon a time, I worked for an employer who loved to schedule overtime almost excessively, that was one of the issues that led me to home based business in the first place. During that period of my life, one of my favorite quotes was "I work to support my life, I do not live to support my work." For one reason or another, I have to remind myself of that from time to time and make adjustments to refocus on what's important. It's all about balance, get that right and you'll be a heck of a lot happier...


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