Tip #1: Set your office hours.

One of the most commonly quoted benefits of owning your own business is the freedom it brings! You can run errands on Tuesday morning at 10am when parking is available in Manhattan Beach. You can work from your kitchen table in your slippers on Saturday morning while the kiddo watches cartoons. The freedom! Right? Well….

There are 2 main problems with inconsistent work hours.

  1. You confuse yourself.

I magically appear at my office door daily M-F at 8am. Occasionally, something forces me to change my schedule – a doctors appointment, a scheduled (or unscheduled) repair, etc. When I deviate from my daily schedule, I lose focus. The lines between work and play are blurred. Productivity plummets.

Setting a daily schedule keeps you on track. Let’s assume you have 4 people you really need to email today. It’s 4pm. If you have no “end” to your office hours, there is less priority for you to hurry up and get those emails sent. But if you want to leave the office at 5pm, you are more likely to put your head down and start typing those emails. Setting “working” hours helps you focus on work when you should be working. Equally important, it also allows you to turn off work-mode before heading home to the family or out with friends.

2. You confuse your clients/customers.

Do yourself a favor and set expectations with your clients/customers. You should not be tied to your computer or phone every moment of the day. Setting “office hours” is an easy way to free yourself from the constant pull of your business. For example, if you are out with your family waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant and you respond to a client’s email to pass the time, your client may immediately write back. You’ve now been seated at your table and are ordering dinner, but your client thinks you are working and is waiting for your response. When it comes to office hours, be consistent. Either you’re working, or you aren’t.

Take 5 minutes right now and decide on your Office Hours. If your hours are fairly standard (such as M-F 8-5), there’s really no need to post them anywhere. However, if you’re more of a 10-7 kind of person, an evening or weekend warrior, or an early riser, it can’t hurt to list your hours on your website and social media.

Unblur the line between work and play. You’ll be more productive while you’re working, and more relaxed when you’re not!

4 Oranges is committed to bringing you weekly tips in the form of To-Do List items that you can complete in an hour or less. These tips were generated from reviewing best practices from the hundreds of businesses I’ve worked with over the past 15 years. I expect you’re already doing some (but not all) of them. Improve your business by making quick fixes that have long-lasting results. You can do this.