Sometimes it isn’t possible to take a full-time job in the city. Jobs are hard to come by these days, and retrenchments happen, or you might want to spend more time with the children rather than wasting it in rush hour traffic at peak times every day. That’s when the idea of getting out of the rat race might seem appealing.
However, staying at home without a paycheck only doesn’t cut it either, so the concept of working from home becomes more and more attractive. But it’s not always an easy thing to do. There are lots of pros, but there are several cons as well, the biggest one being in setting your priorities and adopting the right attitude.
Setting Yourself Up for Working from Home
- It’s still a job: Failing to take the job seriously can ultimately make the difference between success and failure for your venture. Work is work wherever you do it, and if you’re unable to view your work in the same way as you would if you were doing it outside your home, it’s not likely anyone else will see it that way either.
Never think of it as just “something to keep you busy.” If you do, that is all your work will ever be – a part-time occupation. Convince yourself, and then the others in your home – your spouse, partner, children, friends, and even the pets if necessary – that you mean business, and that is what it will become: your own business.
- Set up office: Find a set place to work. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a spare room to make into your office, at least find a corner of a room which you can devote to your workspace. Try to define it in some way, with a rug if necessary, to remind yourself every day that when you step on that rug or enter the room, you are going to work.
- Finding direction: Your choice is to find a job or to create one for yourself. There are jobs available. There’s telecommuting, where constant communication with a real office, and occasional trips to it, are required. Then there’s online work of various sorts, our blog post, Legitimate Ways Moms Make Money Online, will give you lots of ideas.
If none seem right for you, it’s time to put on your thinking cap. Ask yourself these questions: What are you trained to do? What are you good at, and what are you passionate about doing? Turn a hobby into a business, resurrect old skills and start looking for gaps in the market. Then research markets and marketing, packaging, and methods of distribution.
- Tools of the trade: In almost any business these days you’re going to need internet access and a computer sound system, whether it’s your single work tool for online work or a marketing tool for goods you’re busy making at home. Don’t skimp on the quality of the equipment or internet access. Time off-line could cost you money, and you don’t have an IT department at home to do any quick repairs.
If you’re manufacturing or creating, make sure you have the tools you need to do that.
- The administration side of things: Speak to an accountant regarding setting up bookkeeping systems, and get a handle on stuff like tax deductibles, business registration requirements and so on. It’ll make it easier for you when it’s time to submit your tax return.
5 Tips on Keeping Sane While Working from Home
Once the logistics are in place, it’s a matter of trying to keep both you and your business running efficiently. Distractions and procrastinations are the pitfalls of many home enterprises, so be conscious of all the ways they can jeopardize your productivity and your business.
1. Get Dressed
Like having a designated office or work area, getting out of bed and getting dressed is likely to remind you that you are running a business. Going through the routine, you would adopt for an office job is worth the effort. You don’t need to go to the same extremes, and comfortable clothes are fine – it’s just better not to still be in your pajamas when it’s time to get back into them.
2. Draw Up a Work Schedule
You have the freedom at home to develop a schedule that suits you, and it may not necessarily be the usual 9 to 5. You might find that late evening offers you the most productive time, or decide that mornings are best.
However, a regular schedule will help to keep you focused and on the job, and make it easier to avoid distractions that could lead you off at a tangent. Be sure to include a knock-off time in your schedule, too, or you’ll find yourself exhausted because you never get to switch out of work mode.
3. Keep Your Job Separate
If you were working at a traditional job, you would not be able to turn up late because you suddenly noticed the washing hadn’t been done, or the kids wanted your attention. You can’t do that at home either unless you really aren’t committed to making a success of your job.
Treat the household chores and childcare needs as you would if you were going out to work: organize childcare where necessary, schedule housework for after or before your “office hours” and negotiate a fair division of chores between all family members. Let your friends know you’d love to see them and enjoy a cup of coffee, but not during your working hours – they wouldn’t just pop by at a “real” office, would they?
4. Avoid Isolation
At the same time, avoid becoming isolated. This can be the death-knell of creativity and productivity. It’s hard to come up with new ideas or systems when you can’t brainstorm or bounce ideas off anyone. Make a point of setting up ways of chatting online with other home-workers in a similar field. Change the scenery now and again by taking your laptop out onto the deck, or head out for coffee and do some work while in a public environment.
5. Get Up and Get Out
Avoid sitting at the computer for hours: Your back, neck, and eyes will end up taking the strain. Be sure to get up and walk around every hour or so and focus your eyes by looking into the distance for a while.
Exercise is also important to avoid the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, so take a good long walk now and then, work in your garden for a while, play with the kids, or do some yoga to relax.
Working from home has many advantages – the overheads are low without transport costs to get to work, you don’t waste time on commuting and don’t have to go to the expense of keeping your work wardrobe up to date. You have more time at home with your children, and you are your own boss.
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