Five rules for managing your time when you’re the boss

When you work in an office for a boss, your day is often planned out with tasks you need to complete. But what if you ARE the boss? Read five rules for managing your own time.

When Rachel Ray changed career from a business consultancy practice with a team of people all working alongside her to setting up her housekeeping business Bright & Beautiful in 2007, she knew she had to bring some elements of that office environment discipline to her routine, or she would be doomed to failure!

Now she’s sharing her advice with us to help you better manage your own time as you build your business or embark on a new freelance career.

It’s easy to get distracted when you work for yourself

For anyone who faces a daily commute to work, the idea of giving it all up to be your own boss and setting your own hours can seem like the ultimate dream.

More and more people are now working from home, either in their own business or working remotely for a large employer. According to 2014 figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of people working from home has risen to its highest level since records began, with 4.2 million of us in the UK working from home; that’s almost 14% of the workforce!

And there are huge advantages of course – a more flexible working day, working around family commitments, no petrol or rail costs – the list goes on. But it is also very easy to be distracted, to get bogged down by things that need doing around the house and harder to stay focused on and enjoy your working day.

Five rules for managing your time when you’re the boss

Having helped over 50 of our franchisees to set up their own Bright & Beautiful businesses, I know just what you’re going through. I always advise my franchisees to follow five simple rules. I hope they help you too.

1) Prioritise

This is probably one of the hardest things to put into practice when you have a work to do list several pages long, as well as a million and one family and personal things that need sorting out.

What I’ve found really useful is to work out roughly how much time I will spend doing each task – whether that is paperwork, writing a blog or visiting new clients – and make a time guide for the day and week, putting the most important or urgent tasks at the top.

This way you’re able to work methodically through what needs doing, put a very satisfying tick next to the ones that are accomplished and move on. And do make sure you build in some time to get some fresh air or go for a walk – it really helps!

2) Deal with distractions

It will be assumed that because you work from home that you can sort the dinner, do the ironing, take the cat to the vets etc. And while the ability to juggle all of these things may well be one of the reasons you started working from home it is really important not to let them eat into your working day.

So set aside a room or a part of the home as your office. And even if the house is in a mess, go in there at the start of the day and shut the door. Then focus on what needs doing as if you are in an office job. Only do chores or errands at planned times during the day and if possible leave them until after the school run if you have one.

3) Keep a record

You are now the boss and you need to act like one. That doesn’t mean demanding a frothy mocha whenever you fancy one (there’s no-one to get it anyway!) but you need to be in control of how your business is progressing and what needs doing at all times.

In just the same way as you might have delivered a weekly report in an office role you need to have an organised system that ensures you don’t forget what you need to do, for whom and by when.

Reporting and recording your business performance will be even more important if or when you decide to employ other people. No matter how good you think you are at keeping things in your head, something will eventually get forgotten!

4) Get the right help

One of the best ways I’ve found to be more efficient is to know where you need help and bring in the experts.

For many self employed people that might be the accounts when their business turnover reaches a certain point. Get a recommendation from someone you trust and let them handle your HMRC payments and keep your finances on track.

I know that one of the reasons my business has grown so rapidly is that more and more people are now using cleaners because when you’re working all week the last thing you want to do with your free time is cleaning and ironing.

When you work from home its all about making the maths work for you – if you can earn more doing your job than in the hours you’d spend cleaning or doing the accounts then it makes sense to bring in an expert.

5) Tame the email monster!

Technology is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why more and more of us are now able to run our own businesses but it is so important not to let it take over your day.

I know I’m not alone in having had hundreds of emails in my inbox and dreading having to scroll through them late at night. I now set aside a dedicated five minutes each hour to check my emails. Rubbish I delete; urgent ones I respond to; then I put anything that needs consideration into my daily folder to deal with at the end of the working day.

Incidentally, one of the best email time saving tips I found was to unsubscribe from a load of shopping and spam emails. Set aside some time to try it – you’ll be amazed!

Enjoy being your own boss

So many of our franchisees tell me that they can’t imagine going back to work in an office again and working from home really can be an amazing way to make the work life balance a reality. With a bit of structure, a bit of common sense and a bit of fresh air it can be amazing!

Rachel Ray is the founder of national domestic housekeeping franchise business Bright & Beautiful.