Back to work tips for August

It’s August, and for many of us with children we know it’s time to get in one last bit of relaxation this summer. If you live in Florida for many of you like myself there’s only one or two weeks left of summer vacation. So enjoy the beach, have a couple of late mornings and get ready for the back to school schedules.

On the work side for many self-employed professionals summer is normally the time when things slow down for us. It’s also a good time to get your office back in order and ready for business for the next push of the year. My work tips for August:

  • Get your finances in order – August is a great time while it’s slow going to update all your bookkeeping/accountig. Round-up any stray unpaid invoices from customers if you have any. Do your bank recons so you have a idea where you stand financially and what you need to do to meet your end of year financial goal. Hire a bookkeeper if you don’t have the time, patience or software to do your finances by yourself, or they are too out of control for you to deal with. However you decide to deal with your finances set a deadline for August 31 to get it all done and ready for the last months of the year.
  • Schedules – If you have kids then your work from home schedule is going to be really important. Be realistic about what you can do and when you can do it. For many of us our best work time is when the kids have gone to school. That will give you a good 6 to 8 hours of focused work time, so use it wisely.
  • Be flexible – Although you’ve got a schedule it’s always good to be flexible because life happens.
  • Home Office or work space – Over time our work areas get cluttered, it’s natural. While its slow take a couple of hours to tidy up, put files in their place and shred all that unwanted paper that is cluttering up your space and make it workable again 🙂 Don’t forget your computers too, we tend to drop a lot of stuff on our destops, so file those away too.
  • Finally have fun – Enjoy the last few days of family relaxing time before everything goes haywire again. Have fun and head outdoors, go to the beach or bike riding, but have some more fun before school and work get back in full swing.

Happy summer and have a great August.

Time Management for the Self-Employed

Reposted written by: Anthony Caruana @ www.lifehacker.com.au
I came across this post and thought it would be a good one to share. Personally I don’t use a whiteboard as suggested but with the various smart phone apps and google calender, the result is the same.

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2012/04/time-management-for-the-self-employed/

If you’re self-employed and work from home, staying productive can be a huge challenge. When you’re home, it’s easy to stretch out a cup of coffee with a snack. And then that turns into a quick bite in front of the TV and next thing you know, the morning has disappeared.

When I started freelancing, this was a huge challenge for me so I had to come up with a system that kept me on track.

I’ve settled on a multi-pronged approach that fits into my work habits and personal preferences that gives me flexibility but the motivation to stay on task.

My main planning tool is my whiteboard. It’s low tech but it works. The board is ruled up with a column for each day of the work week. I don’t schedule work for weekends unless it’s completely unavoidable. Each day is divided in half.

At the end of each week I plan my time in half day blocks for the following week and put them on the board. I tried to doing this with an online calendar but too often it was buried under other windows on my screen. I need to have something I can look up to regularly. And, because it’s on a whiteboard, it’s easy to add stuff that spans days, I can use different colours and moving things is quick.

The second planning tool I have is my to-do list system. This uses both high and low tech parts.

One the high tech side, I use an electronic to-do app called Producteev [Producteev]. There are so many apps of this type that it doesn’t really matter which one you pick as long as it works for you. I like Producteev because it has a multi-platform app, has browser access and lets me email tasks to myself. The key thing is that when a new piece of work comes in or I have something to do I add it to Producteev with a deadline.

That to-do list also holds recurring tasks like monthly bills that can’t be automatically paid, upcoming deadlines and things that need to followed up.

Each morning, I look at Producteev and transpose today’s tasks to a paper list that sits by my right hand all day. I know that this is double-handling but it solves two problems for me.

It puts today’s work within easy reach rather than on an application window that might be hidden behind other work and it gives me the physical sensation of putting a line through a task. It does mean that I have to update my online list as well, but that’s a pretty quick and easy task that only takes a few moments.

So, how do you manage you day’s work? How do you stay on task when there are a thousand things you’d rather be doing?