If there’s one thing that’s hard about working at home, it’s finding the time to actually work, especially if you set your own schedule. It’s way too easy to get distracted if you aren’t strict with yourself and truly dedicated to the work you’re doing. Even with that dedication, however, it’s sometimes hard to get in the hours you need for working.

One of the most effective ways to find time to work is to recognize the time that you’re wasting during the day. We all do it, and some downtime is certainly necessary. Working at home successfully, however, requires a different balance.

TV Time

The time you spend watching television is perhaps one of the simplest to limit or give up. It’s not productive, and you may find that there are a number of shows you can give up with minimal regret in order to earn a living from home.

You may not need to cut back on all the time you watch television, but the more you do cut, the more time you can spend on more productive activities.

Online Time Wasters

The internet is another place where many of us waste a lot of time. Checking email, forums and social sites takes more time than it has to. They’re fun and you can tell yourself that you’re being productive when they relate to the work you’re doing.

The key here is to keep things under control. Don’t check your email or favorite sites for hours on end or over and over again throughout the day. Set times and time limits for these things. They’re tools, and used correctly they won’t suck up excessive amounts of your day, but benefit you the way they should.

Checking your stats can be another time waster. There are times when it’s perfectly appropriate to check your stats throughout the day, but much of the time you can keep a much lighter eye on things. Stats only need to be frequently checked if there’s something you’re looking for in them, such as how a paid campaign is working out.

I don’t mean ignore your stats, of course. You do need to know how things are working for you. Many times you are just fine looking things over once a week or so.

Online research can be a danger as well. It’s very easy to get sucked into reading more than you need on a particular topic, or get dragged into something unrelated but fascinating. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending on such things when you’re trying to have productive work hours.

Other People

Other people are often huge distractions when you work at home. Some you can’t help but pay attention to, such as children who need your attention at that instant. You just have to deal with those situations.

People who call you on the phone or drop by for a chat, or the spouse who hasn’t learned to respect your work hours may be another matter. You want to be social and pay attention to the important relationships in your life, but you need to have them respect your work hours from home as they would respect your work if you were elsewhere.

Clutter

Clutter is a time waster in that it slows you down when you can’t find things. Since my kids tend to put schoolwork on my desk, sometimes that includes my mouse and keyboard. That one is a small issue, but it certainly adds to some of the minor frustrations of working at home.

Getting Your Time Under Control

If you’re struggling to come up with productive time for working at home, you must come up with a plan to help you. You have some ideas of what’s causing the problem, now comes the time to fix it.

1. Set time limits.

For certain activities, set time limits. This is particularly important for things that get your attention for longer than they should, such as social websites. Set a timer if you need to and stop that activity once it goes off.

2. Have a schedule.

Many people find a written schedule of some sort to be extremely helpful. Know what you need to get accomplished each day and about how long you intend to spend on it.

A schedule can also help you figure out when the best times are for things such as running errands, doing housework and so forth. Try to schedule these things when you’re less likely to be productive in your work.

3. Plan with your family.

Talk to your family about your work needs. Find ways to fit their needs with your own.

The younger the children are, the less they’ll be able to help you with this, but you can still figure out when you can work while they’re young. Naptimes, after bedtime and any time the kids are in school or elsewhere are good times for you to work.