Maybe you’re new to the world of working at home as a fashion entrepreneur. You make your coffee, sit down on your couch and pull your laptop open, and then wait. What are you waiting for? Not sure what to do next? You know you have a million tasks that could be done today, including revamping your website and online presence, but you’re just not sure where to start.
Or maybe you’re a seasoned work-from-homer who is just getting into the world of fashion. You’re just not used to your business being, well, this busy. You have piles of unanswered emails, blinking notifications reminding you to call so-and-so back, mail and paperwork to sort through, and again, you find yourself at a loss. Where to begin?
This kind of paralysis hits many of us hard, even if we’re used to working from home. It is incredibly challenging to become a new fashion entrepreneur. On top of a new set of tasks, it’s not like you wake up automatically knowing how to best organize your day. But organization, especially when self-imposed, is a key lever to ensure you are leading a productive work life, especially when that life consists of juggling multiple tasks and duties in order to make your fashion business successful.
Here’s how to get organized as a new fashion entrepreneur:
Start with Setting
Where do you currently work? On your couch? In your favorite recliner? While these spots are probably comfy, they’re not always conducive to buckling down and getting the difficult work done. When you work from home, it is helpful to designate an area in your house as your workspace. Here, you can step across the threshold from “home” to “work,” and use external stimulus to remind you that now you’re at work, so it’s time to be productive. Changing your work setting in this way can help immensely with your overall productivity.
NPR advises those who are easily distracted to go a step further: “If you’re distractible, get ready for work every morning like you are going to physically go into work. Dress up, do your hair — whatever you’d normally do. This puts you in a professional mindset.” Shifting not only your physical workspace but also your mindset can increase the efficacy of setting up a home office.
If you act as though you’re traveling into work each day, it becomes that much harder to break out of the “work mindset” and get distracted by all the wonderful things going on in your home… whether that means little ones playing, dogs ready to go out, or meal prep waiting to be finished. You wouldn’t be able to engage with any of those things if you were physically at work, and even the act of pretending you’re physically at the office can assist you in ignoring distractions and endless home to-do lists.
Make it Your Own
Your home office should work with you, not against you. Make sure it is fully stocked with all the necessities. These might include file folders, your planner, notebooks, highlighters, and paper clips. Place these items in clear plastic bins where they’re easy to locate. You don’t need any additional excuses to leave your workspace, so don’t leave room to create any.
It may also inspire creativity if you spend a little time decorating your new workspace to match your mentality and branding as a budding fashion entrepreneur. Perhaps create a mood board, complete with your favorite runway looks. Or highlight favorite colors, fabric swatches, and prints in eye-catching gold frames.
Set Goals and Reflect on Past Goals
Use past successes and failures to help guide you during the goal-setting phase of entrepreneurship. Analyzing past behaviors and actions is useful when brainstorming new ideas and solutions. You’ll be using real data points to impact future business. This means you’re more likely to set reasonable, realistic, attainable goals that actually address the main components of your business model, which will cause you to be more successful later down the road. Setting yourself up for success often allows individuals to feel more successful as well. This encourages strong business practices and further organizational strategies.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Even with all of these guards in place (a dedicated office space, free of clutter, and a business model that is goal-oriented), if you are not organizing your time, you will feel aimless, overwhelmed, or at a loss for what to do next. Luckily, fashion entrepreneurs can easily sidestep this downward spiral by engaging in effective time management practices.
Grab a planner, a calendar, or even just a blank notebook. Jot down the time you have, by hour, to work on your business today. Be realistic when planning. Next, make a to-do list, with high-priority items at the top and low-priority tasks at the bottom. Estimate how much time each will take, and then map out your day, hour by hour, completing the most difficult or highest-priority tasks at the beginning of your day and leaving the lower-priority to-dos for the end of the day, when you’re feeling tired, can drudge through mindless tasks, or aren’t completing your best work.
Breaks should be an essential part of your working-from-home lifestyle. Breaks can increase your energy, allow for much-needed “down time,” and help you tackle all of those things you have to do at home anyway. However, don’t just take breaks willy-nilly. Set some rules for yourself around break-taking and you’ll breathe a lot easier when it comes time to get back to work.
You may decide to set a timer on your phone so you’re breaking for a set amount of time. This allows you to know when it’s time to stop working and when it’s time to start working once more.
You may also want to schedule your time during breaks in the same way you schedule your work time. Decide what you’re going to do for the duration of the break, and make note of it in your planner. It can be as simple as jotting down “10:15-10:30am – coffee break.” Suddenly you know exactly how long you’re breaking for and what you’re doing during your break.
This also helps you get things done at home. If you have a fifteen-minute break and nothing to do, you’ll be more likely to settle into a distraction (i.e., watching an episode of your favorite Netflix show) than if you plan to use this time to tackle something on your at-home to-do list. Spend that 15 minutes sorting through mail, and you’ll feel much better about yourself at the end of the day.
Once you’ve created some kind of routine or started with a schedule-and-planner system, keep at it. Exactly at the moments when you’re most frustrated or most overwhelmed, your system will save you. Especially as a new fashion entrepreneur, navigating the business world can be challenging. You can fall back on these new organizational habits and expend less energy thinking about what you have to do.