Sharon C. Cooper

Just thinking…

Multi-tasking is a Myth, Or So I’ve Been Told

For years I’ve prided myself on being able to get a lot done in minimum time. I even took on the Army’s old recruiting slogan – “we do more things before 8 a.m. than most people do all day.” That was me, getting an early start to my day to see how much I could get done before 8 a.m. I’ve always considered myself the ultimate multi-tasker, but now I’m wondering if my version of multi-tasking has really been as productive as I’ve thought. 

I’ve often heard people say – multi-tasking is a myth. In my mind, I wondered how that was possible since I typically take care of several tasks at the same time. If having a load of clothes washing, and a pot of brown rice cooking on the stove while I work on one of my writing assignments is not multi-tasking, then what is? I decided to do some research.

According to neuroscientist, Earl Miller, humans can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, but they can “shift their focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.” We may think we’re paying attention to everything we have going on around us, but we’re not. He says that often times, “similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.” One example I liked: typing an email while talking on the telephone.  This is almost impossible to do effectively – I’ve tried it. “They both involve communicating via speech or the written word, and so there’s a lot of conflict between the two of them.”

It turns out, most of the tasks I do simultaneously are considered “background tasking” according to business coach, Dave Crenshaw. This is when you’re “doing two or more tasks, with only one of them requiring mental effort” like my example above. It’s suggested that instead of trying to do several things at once, give your complete focus to one task at a time.  That’s a nice idea…but will I be able to accomplish as much? Hmm…I’m not sure.

Surepayroll did a study and found that “despite the widespread acceptance of multi-tasking, one in four small business owners report that multi-tasking in some way hinders their working ability. Multi-tasking skeptics cited everything from decreased quality in work, tasks taking longer than in the past and becoming burned out more quickly.”

Now I’m curious. I’m thinking about trying to limit my version of multi-tasking and see how many tasks I can scratch off my daily to-do-list. I have no doubt that this will be super hard for me, especially since I’ve mirrored the Army’s old slogan regarding all I can get done before 8 a.m., for well over 20 years. I also can’t imagine it being as much fun, but we’ll see.

What are your thoughts on multi-tasking?

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Just Thinking, Multi-tasking | | 6 Comments

Tips for Starting a Home-Based Business

With the economy the way it is today, many people are looking to start their own home-based business. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), home-based businesses make up approximately fifty-percent of all U.S. businesses. Whether part-time or as your full-time gig, working from home and being your own boss might be just what you’re looking for right now.

If you’re considering starting a home-based business, here are a few things to think about before you quit your day job.

What’s a home-based business?

A home-based business is a business that provides help to others, while you manage the business from your home office. This can be anything from dog walking, freelance writing, to managing business accounts. The basis of a successful business is one that supplies a need. It may take some research, but you can discover the top service needs in your area or city, and then figure out which one of those services you can provide.

Operating a home-based business

There are several benefits to operating a home-based business. The most obvious benefit – you can work from home. Since you already pay a mortgage/rent, and utilities, the only thing you need to spend money on now is the equipment for your business. And, in many cases, you probably already own most of the needed equipment.

Secondly, a home-based business requires low overhead and start-up costs. Overhead costs typically include (but are not limited to) advertising, insurance, interest, legal fees, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone bills, travel and utilities. These costs are normally low for home-based businesses. In most cases, your start-up cost will include a computer, additional software, office supplies/equipment, and a telephone.

Establishing a website for selling your services lowers the overhead even more and maximizes your profit (saves on advertisement
costs).

Home-based business options

Virtual assistance has taken off in a big way in the last ten years. Using a computer, fax machine, telephone, and internet access, you can perform various administrative duties for small and large companies. You are paid for the work you do, so there is no extra charge for the company (like employee taxes, benefits…or call-ins!). Virtual assisting skills run from transcription to accounting to managing email and company websites.

Ghostwriting is the process of writing articles, novels, eBooks and more for an individual or a company. Using your writing talent, you can make good money creating literary works (print and electronic) for others who need them. Though the person hiring your services will have total ownership of the work you create, you still make money doing what you enjoy.

Offering Cleaning Services to companies or individuals will definitely fill a need. If you want to work second or third shift, you can focus on office clients. Take it a step further and identify retail businesses that are within a few blocks from each other (saves time and money). Perhaps house cleaning is more your speed. In this case, you probably won’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising or marketing because your customers will come by word of mouth.

Getting started tips

There are things to consider before starting any type of business, even a home-based one.

  1. Research the local laws for registering and zoning a home business. Most home businesses require no zoning issues unless
    you’ll be meeting numerous clients in your home, posting signs in the yard, or causing external nuisance s (e.g., noise, odors, etc).
  2. Small business tax laws. Now that you are a business, you are subject to different tax exemptions, deductions and payments. Sites like www.irs.gov can give you the information you need.
  3. Create a separate work space at home. This could be as simple as using a spare bedroom or a corner in the dining room. The
    main focus should be on finding a space to keep your work separate from your personal household items. A separate telephone line (or a pay as you go phone) is always a good idea. When you need to meet with clients – coffee shops, books
    stores and even the library make great meeting places. Or, you can rent virtual office space for a nominal monthly fee (you’ll be able to use their address for marketing material, and have access to their business machines, and conference rooms).
  4. Use on and off-line marketing methods to find clients. Such as: public databases, newspaper and Yellow Pages ads, direct
    mailings, email marketing, and designing your own website.
  5. Practicing good time management will play a major role in whether or not you’re successful. Create a schedule to divide
    time between work and family. Balancing both is hard, but not impossible.

A home-based business is an alternative for people who want to be their own boss without spending a lot in start-up costs. If you have a talent/gift and you can see or fulfill a need, consider a home-based business.

September 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Business Start-up | 4 Comments