I had an interesting discussion with a friend the other day. She is working on making an at-home craft business work. She said that she had had trouble that week finding time to work on her crafts. Finding time to work on your business is a common issue among direct sales people, too.
We talked about scheduling time to work. She said that it’s hard for her to do that. I reminded her that you don’t necessarily have to say that every day from ____ to _____ you will work on your business. Some days my work time is from 5:30 to 8 a.m. Sometimes it’s 3 to 9 p.m. Some days I don’t work on business at all. The important thing isn’t the schedule itself but actually scheduling time to work.
She thought that was a great idea, but she still had a problem. People call. Some of those calls are people who have needs or concerns that she feels she should respond to, even if it’s only to allow that person an opportunity to vent. I agree. People are important. Their needs are important. It’s a very good thing that she is available for her friends. However, it’s also important that she protect her work time.
I asked her, “If you were working a job where you had to leave your house and answer to someone else, would you be able to take personal calls during work time?”
She said, “Well, no.”
So, I looked her in the eye and said, “You can’t take personal calls during work time.”
This is something I definitely practice. If I am working, I’m usually online. With dial-up internet no one can call my home phone, but most everyone has my cell number, too. If I am working I don’t answer.
Now, if you have a friend you know is ill, answer that call. If someone calls several times in a row, clearly desperate to find you, answer that. But, most of the time calls can wait until you get back to the caller.
If you’re able to set regular office or work hours, mention that when you return the call. “Susie, I’m so sorry I missed your call. I was working, which I usually do from 9 to 11 a.m. What did you need?” Otherwise, a simple, “Susie, I’m so sorry I missed your call. What did you need?” will do.
If you don’t respect and protect your work time, no one else will.