Set Your Office Hours

I once met a woman who was starting her own direct sales business. She was very nervous to leave her day-to-day job. I asked her what she was the most worried about and her response was that she liked knowing what time she had to be to work, she also liked knowing when the meetings were going to take place, she liked knowing exactly what her assignments were going to be, and when they needed to be complete, and she especially liked knowing when the work day was over. Who doesn’t like that last one, amIright?

Her answer was SO VERY telling. She saw a schedule as a security blanket. Knowing when things are going to happen is very comfortable and feels extremely safe. I totally get that. That is why starting your own business and being your own boss can be scary. You, yourself, are the person who now sets the schedule. You have to provide your own security blanket and if you don’t know how to do it, it can be scary.  But, I’m here to tell you it is completely doable. The first thing you need to learn to do is set your office hours.

What are office hours?
Just like you'd suspect, office hours are the times during the day that you are going to do work-like items. In a non-direct sales work environment, you know a nine-to-five job, these office hours are set for you. You have to be in the office at a certain time, most people check and respond to emails and voicemail first thing, and then the meetings begin. In between meetings you are at your desk working on projects. And then the whistle blows at five o’clock and you are out the door. And believe it or not, you need to do this when you own your own business, too!  This helps you to avoid at the end of the day when no office hours are scheduled the, “What did I do all day?” syndrome. Let’s avoid that syndrome, shall we?

Take a minute now to plan your office hours.
I mean it. Get a piece of paper out and start writing this down. When will you check your emails, make phone calls, post and respond to posts on social media? Pick days on your calendar of when you schedule home or online parties. Choose a monthly day to hold your team meetings. And probably most importantly, when will you respond to questions from your team members? The beauty of working for yourself is that you can work those times around what is best for you! If you are at home with little kiddos, you can schedule these hours around nap times or when they are in school. If you have other hobbies or interests, those get to take a large part of your day up and you schedule your office hours around those events. And you even get to use evening hours if that is what you prefer. Your work day doesn’t have to end at 5 o’clock unless you want it to.

If you are just starting your business, now is the time to set those office hours and stick to it. Otherwise, as you get further along in your business, and you are adding more and more members to your team, you are going to find that helping your team can take up ALL of your time. And without scheduled office hours, you will feel like you need to respond immediately and at an hour of the day. To avoid being at the beck and call of everyone, you need to tell people when you are working and when they should expect to hear back from you.

For example, if you decide that you are going to check your emails, text messages, and Facebook messages from your team Monday through Friday from 9 am until 10 am and a team member sends you an email at 3 pm on Tuesday afternoon she won’t hear back from you until Wednesday morning between 9 and 10 am.

Stick to it!
The vital thing is that you have GOT to stick to it! Set your hours. Post them everywhere you can like on your Facebook group page, on your business page, Instagram bio, Twitter account, on your website, and in your email signature. It needs to be everywhere. And then, don’t check or respond to anything, even things that sound like an emergency until your office hours. Let's face it, there are really no life-and-death emergencies in a direct sales business. You will begin to train your team to realize that they won’t get a response back until your office hours occur. You will have set that expectation and they will expect that result.

It is much like a horse in a corral. Horses often push up against the fence, always testing to see if it will give. But in reality, they feel very safe and secure knowing where the boundaries are and where they fit within those boundaries. Again, another example of how a schedule equates to security, not just for you but for your team members. They will feel very safe knowing when you will respond to requests. 

Do it for your sanity. Do it for your productivity. And especially do it for your teams' and your personal security. 

Author: Stacy San Juan is a marketing maven who has worked in the direct sales industry at the corporate level for multiple international companies for nearly a decade. She specializes in marketing, training, and new product development. Because of her roles inside the corporate offices she gets why direct sales companies do what they do. And because she has interacted with thousands of direct sales representatives in her roles, she has seen what works for a representative and how they can get the most from their business experience. Not only does she have a passion for marketing, training, and new products, she also loves her family (her husband and two daughters) and her home in American Fork, Utah. And of course, Netflix, online shopping, and Diet Coke.