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How to Create a Productive Work-at-Home Schedule

How to Create a Productive Work-at-Home ScheduleWorking from home seems incredibly convenient for many people who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs or taking a telecommuting position. However, home is also the place with all the possible distractions to derail your working schedule. Many people who start working from home have confessed that it took them a long time to create a productive work schedule and to stick to it.

The problem with working from home is that we all tend to relax too much and find excuses to take a break from our tasks to grab a snack from the fridge, watch the afternoon news report or simply chat with family members. It is “just a 5-minute break” but they tend to extend to 10 minutes, a quarter of an hour or even half an hour. Suddenly, it’s 6 o’clock in the evening and you haven’t done even half of the tasks on your schedule.

So, what is the magic formula that keeps people working from home productive and focused on their tasks? There is no magic formula, but self-discipline and dedication to finishing every project on time and without having to work extra hours. Here are some simple and actionable tips to help you create your own productive schedule:

1. Get Dressed For Work
Even if you simply go to the next room to start working, take the time to put on a shirt and business trousers and look presentable, as if you were going to office. It may not seem as a big deal, but it gets you in the mindset that you will be starting a working day.

By comparison, loitering in pajamas will make you feel more inclined to take breaks and lose time with various distractions. Plus, if a potential customer wants to have a quick video call with you, it will be quite awkward postponing that call for 10 minutes until you dress yourself properly.

2. Find Your Most Productive Times of the Day
Everyone has their own biorhythm – some of us are more productive early in the morning, others late at night. It is important to know when you are most productive so that you schedule the most important tasks of the day, which need all your focus, in that period.

As you work from home, you have the benefit of creating your own flexible schedule – you can start your work day at 6 am and finish it by early afternoon, or start later in the day and finish in the evening.

3. Keep a Daily Schedule Visibly Displayed in Your Home Office
Having a written or printed schedule of the tasks to do makes you more accountable than simply keeping them committed to memory. Once a task is completed, you can tick it off and by the end of the day look at the schedule which is fully dealt with.

Many entrepreneurs state that they did not really become fully productive until they had to confront that printed schedule with unfinished tasks on it at the end of the working day.

4. Get Out of the House
Yes, you work from home, but you do not (and should not) stay at home all day long. Soon, you will become bored and isolated from other people. Instead, take your laptop and go to your favorite café or eatery and work from there. You may meet other people like you, working from home, forge a friendship and help each other with useful tips on productivity and time management.

5. Leave Work behind at the End of the Day
As a popular song in the ‘80s stated “when the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun”. This should be your motto – once you have finished your daily tasks, shut the door to your home office and stop worrying or thinking about business issues. Relax, spend quality time with your family and recharge your batteries for a new busy day.

As you can see, none of these tips are difficult to follow through. You just need to be disciplined enough to do them every day, until they become second nature to you.

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Find Out What Licenses and Permits You Need to Run a Home-Based Business

find-out-what-licenses-and-permits-you-need-to-run-a-home-based-businessFor many people who consider becoming entrepreneurs, the idea of running a home-based business is attractive because they believe that it is much simpler to open and register it compared to traditional businesses. After all, you quietly work from home, do not have an office building and employees, and so you do not need to fill in tons of paperwork.

Actually, in the eyes of the law and the IRS, even a home-based business is treated just like any other type of business. There are various licenses and permits required, some form of incorporation, and different kinds of ongoing statement to fill in and submit. It is very important to follow the rules, and apply for and obtain every permit necessary before you start operating your business. Otherwise, you may face serious fines and penalties.

Of course, there are various requirements from state to state, but the basic types of licenses are the same all over the territory of the United States. So, if you plan to open a home-based business, you should read this article carefully and know what you need to expect in terms of getting all the approvals necessary to operate your business legally.

1. General Business License
This type of license is required by your local city or county office. It is an annually renewable license that gives you the right to run a business in the respective administrative area. There are variances from state to state in terms of documents and forms required to submit in order to obtain this license, but you can easily find out the information you need on your local authority’s official website. You will be required to pay a small fee upon each renewal of this license, which is deductible on your business tax return.

2. Sales Tax Registration
If your business will deal with the sale of taxable products (these are usually physical products, as opposed to digital products) even if the sale is done online, you are still required to collect a sales tax from your customers. In some states, the sale tax is collected even for services, so you should obtain a list of all products and services subject to the sales tax in your local area. If your products or services fall under this category, you will have to apply for a tax permit, which gives you the legal right to collect the sales tax.

3. Professional or Occupational Licensing
For consultancy or professional services home-based businesses, you will also need to obtain a license stating that you are authorized to supply those services. Some of the occupations requiring professional state licensing are, for example: accountant, architect, lawyer, tattoo artist, massage specialist, nutritionist, etc.

4. Home Occupation Permit
In many local jurisdictions, you are required to obtain a permit for running a business in a residential area. The reason behind this is that by running a business you are likely creating more traffic, noise, etc. than usual in your neighborhood. Therefore, there are limitations in place for the type of activities you are permitted to perform in your home. If you live in a neighborhood under the administration of a Homeowners’ Association, you should also obtain the HOA approval for opening your home-based business.

5. Signage Permit
If you want to advertise your business by placing a sign of any shape and size on your property, you should apply for a permit in this respect. Every city has signage restrictions, and they are particularly strict for residential areas. Before you order any signs, find out what your local regulations state in terms of size, shape, placement and number of signs allowed on your property.

All these permits will take some time before you obtain them and will require you to fill in various forms and to pay fees. However, you cannot open and run your home business until you obtain all of them.

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5 Time Management Apps Every Work-From-Home Entrepreneur Should Have

5 Time Management Apps Every Work-from-home Entrepreneur Should HaveBeing your own boss is great: you have no one breathing down your neck telling you how to do things and, more importantly, tracking every minute of your day. You are free to make your own schedule and you can take breaks anytime you want. That’s great, isn’t it?

It is, until you realize that you are using your time inefficiently, never finishing your scheduled tasks on time, and always doing some overtime work on your business or postponing tasks for the next day. Over time, this way of running your business will become so inefficient that you will not notice any advantage in being an entrepreneur: either you are too busy, or your business fails.

To avoid this unfortunate situation, you need to learn one simple skill: time management. You need to understand how to organize and prioritize your daily schedule, how to focus on one single task at a time and how to avoid distractions. You are not alone on your learning path: you have lots of computer and mobile apps available which will be of great help to you in becoming a successful entrepreneur and managing your time efficiently.

Here are our top picks:

1. Toggl
Toggl is available as a free or premium service. For a single work-from-home entrepreneur, the free plan is quite sufficient. What does its app do? Once you start it, it tracks time spent on every single task. In this way, you can figure out how much each specific activity takes you. And, if you are billing your clients per time spent working for them, Toggl is a great replacement for any other timesheet software because you can prepare and print detailed reports for each day, week, month, or per tasks and clients.

2. RescueTime
It will only take a moment to check that Facebook notification… oh, look, my favorite writer retweeted my post… and there’s a new article on LinkedIn Pulse written by my former boss. All these moments add up and take away from your daily productivity, but you are not quite aware of them.

Not anymore! RescueTime monitors everything you do, both online and offline. This app tracks time spent on every website or with any task, such as reading emails or meeting a prospective client. And at the end of the day you receive a detailed report on how you spent your time. Faced with the hours and minutes spent on various distractions, you will certainly make changes in the way you spend your time every day.

3. Focus Booster
If you cannot find the inner will to organize your tasks, Focus Booster will do it for you. Built on the Pomodoro concept, this app appoints fixed time slots for each activity and alerts you when you should have finished a task. In this way, you can create a daily rhythm for your work and move from task to task without losing precious time thinking what you should be doing next.

4. Pocket
The main reason you get distracted from work is that you are afraid that if you don’t check out this website or that article right now, you will forget about them later. This will not be the case anymore once you install Pocket. This app saves every link, website, video, etc. of interest to you so that once you have finished your work you can browse them at leisure – without leaving unfinished tasks.

5. News Feed Eradicator for Facebook
This app is the most extreme measure you should take if you are simply unable to get away from your Facebook Timeline. Once you install and activate it, News Feed Eradicator will blur out your Facebook newsfeed and replace it with a random inspirational quote, such as “Time is money”.

Now that you know about these time management apps, you have all the tools you need to structure your day’s work and maintain a good balance between working on your business and your personal life.

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