Jean has been a home-based business owner for a number of years. She has gained valuable experience and insight along the way.
It's Just You, the Timer, and the Task
The Necessity of Power Working
We all have those days when the day seems to have blown by and we have very little or nothing to show for it. Something didn't happen the way it should, and we're not even sure what it was, or wasn't. Some have many days in a row like that, and it seems like in a one-person office there are more days like that than you can imagine.
At one time in my home-based business, I found myself in that very situation, and I realized that my business wouldn't last very long if I didn't start putting more money in the bank by getting more productive. So I started to power work and it worked so well that I just kept doing it every work day. Sometimes I even apply the techniques on my days off, accomplishing tasks around the house.
What Is Power Working?
Power working is using a block of time and going at a task with intense concentration and gusto. Using a timer is one of the best tools I have. I rank it up there with my laptop and my phone.
What Is the Most Important Thing to Work on Right Now?
We want to work on the things we like working on. But that may not be the best strategy for your business. You can still work on the stuff that gives you the most satisfaction, but you prioritize your different types of satisfaction.
The simplest way to establish priorities is to divide them up into categories based on urgency and importance. This particular system is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. It is based on how Dwight D. Eisenhower accomplished so much in his life. This is what I use to manage my life and my businesses. It is simplistic yet very effective in establishing what needs to be done next.
There are four categories:
1. Urgent and Important
- a bill is due today
- a sick child needs to come home from school
- your bank account funds are running low and you need to make a deposit
2. Not Urgent, but Important
- updating your product catalog
- uploading new products to your website
- filling orders
- getting this month ready for the bookkeeper
- date nights
- spending time with the kids
3. Urgent, but Not Important
- some phone calls
- most emails
- a friend or salesperson comes to the door
4. Not Urgent and Not Important
- this week's episode of your favorite TV show
- cruising through social media
- texting about personal conversational things
- making your grocery list
The idea behind this decision matrix is to lead you to attend to your business building activities—category 2 above, important but not urgent. All the rest can be managed in off-business hours, except for emergencies, of course. If you pay your bills in a few spare minutes, before they become due or overdue, then you might be able to go months without having anything in category 1.
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix
What the Boxes Mean
It's Four Squares to Greater Success
Draw four squares. Label them like so:
- upper left: urgent and mportant
- upper right: not urgent but important
- lower left: urgent but not important
- lower right: not urgent and not important
Fill in the blanks at the end of your work day so you are ready for the next work day. You should be spending most of your time in Quadrant 2 - not urgent and important. This is where your business building and profit centers are. If you need to be in any other quadrant, either you are super efficient, you need more business building tasks, or you are not managing your business as effectively as you should. Only on very rare occasions should you ever have anything in Quadrant 1.
Here is How Power Working Works
1. Pick a "not urgent and important' task from quadrant 2 in your Eisenhower decision matrix. At the end of your work day yesterday, you filled in the four quadrants in your Eisenhower decision matrix. There are a number of things on your list that could probably take you all morning or afternoon. Pick one of them to work on.
2. Get a timer and set it for 20 minutes. When you start that timer, you are not to fiddle around or get distracted. Put the phone on vibrate, close your email, and get ready to focus and concentrate. You are going to go for the gusto and pound out this task with all the concentration and effort you can muster.
3. This 20 minutes is just you and the task and what you need to accomplish it. Working from home certainly has its challenges if you live with a partner or family. It is not always easy for them to leave you alone while you are working. And, because no one is making you accountable for what you are doing, it is easy to slip into digital procrastination or other distracting habits. This 20 minutes is different however. For 20 minutes, there is no Facebook, no emails, no snacking and no family interactions. Do not even get up to let the cat in. It will be just you and the task.
4. This is a race using time as your ally. Start the timer, put your head down, and go for it. Concentrate and push yourself. It's just for 20 minutes. Keep your work neat and as high-quality as you can. This is about doing the very best you can, as fast as you can within the timer period. When the timer goes off, it will seem like a few minutes have gone by. You will be amazed how much you have got done.
If you set aside even two or three of these 20 minutes power work sessions in a day, you will accomplish so much more and set yourself up to reap the benefits for years to come.
Of What Value are Power Work Sessions?
- They show you the effort required to efficiently accomplish a task.
- Interruptions are reduced.
- Your efficiency increases.
- You work with time, not against it.
- You feel more empowered when you accomplish something.
- You can sometimes accomplish more in 20 minutes than you could in a whole morning or afternoon.
- Power working helps bust time-wasting habits.
Some Things Take Longer Than a 20 Minutes Power Work Session
Managing Efficiency in Your Home Office
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.