Anyone who’s started any type of business online will tell you, time management is one of the most difficult things to master in working from home or working for yourself. You’re often going to have a ton going on and when you work for yourself it’s easy to let accountability slip.

Getting the most out of every minute is going to make a huge difference in the success or failure of your project. Today I want to talk about how to setup your desktop to make the most efficient use of your time. Using these small tips is a great way to keep your mind on track and avoid wasting time on useless things when you should be getting down to business.

Clutter free desktop

1) The Importance of Reducing The Clutter and Turning Things Off

One of the things I find harder than anything else as someone who works from home, is avoiding distractions. Your first step to optimizing your screen real estate (regardless of the size or number of screens you have) is closing out anything that doesn’t require use to make money in the next three hours.

Every three hours, you should be taking a small break and at that point you can definitely re-evaluate. This means, closing out personal email, Facebook, chat systems, etc. If you were being paid on the clock for someone, what would they want your focus on? Remember, you’re on the clock for yourself.

2) Dividing Your Screen(s) So That What’s Most Important is in the Forefront

When choosing what is going to go where, consider how often you use something and how much space you actually need to use it. For example, as a part time writer my two biggest tools are my text editor and web browser. While I’m writing, I might have those two things each sharing 50% of one monitor.

Then, on another monitor, I might keep my other important tools handy, such as email, Skype, etc. Make a list of what’s most important to you, then make a list of what’s most distracting. Keep items that are distracting in the background or off to the side. Keep the most important thing where your eyes are naturally drawn to when you sit at your work station.

3) Tab Organization and Web Browsers

For many people, this is going to be the most relevant section. Most of us have experienced that frustrating moment where we’re searching through 20+ tabs trying to find that reference article we were looking at.

One creative way to manage your tabs (aside from add ons and plugins) is to use different browsers for different work. For example, if you always get in the habit of using Google Chrome for personal stuff and Mozilla Firefox for work, you’re going to be a lot less distracted when you open up your work tool.

Then, have several instances running rather than one instance with all of your tabs. Each instance would be for a project, and the tabs within that instance would be only concerning one project. If you do that, you can split your screen 50/50 and still be incredibly productive.

4) Take the Time to Actually Draw out a Plan

The last thing that I want to mention is that you should put time aside for organizing your computer, your work station, and your life.

Even if you only spend 15 minutes a day arranging your space, being organized is going to save you a lot of time and headache. Disorganization has a way of unraveling people, and causing messy and inconsistent work.

In Conclusion

While this last tip has nothing to do with real estate for your monitor, I’d like to offer that just because you are at home it doesn’t mean “home tasks” need to be done.

Sure, you can get away with working in your underwear, but the laundry and dishes are going to have to wait.

Also, unless you really need to have it for your job, the cell phone and instant messaging software don’t necessarily have to be fired up.