Ok, admittedly working from home is not always plain sail. In the course of last year I have on many occasions come across obstacles to working from home which have prevented me from being as productive as I would have liked. This has led me to reflect on what are the best conditions and requirements to make a success of working from home and I would like to share them you.
The struggles of working from home
This last few months have seen a slow down in my posting activity on both this site and my other website Living With A Border Terrier. The slow down was one of the many periods in the course of the last year, where I struggled to remain productive with my online business. This last period, where I stalled for more or less a month, has given me the opportunity to work out what best practices I should apply to overcome obstacles in trying to make a success of working from home.
But what were the causes?
I learnt from my own mistakes
What caused my slow down was a combination of external circumstances which caused me to ‘freeze’ and to struggle with my daily functions, including following and contributing to my online business – some call this a form of depression.
This was not the first time, as in the course of the year just gone more concerns had pressed me relating primarily to poor health of my closest family members, like my mum and my husband. Consuming worries to tear your hair out, right?
Yet I am full aware that so many of us have had to cope with similar worries, if not bigger issues. The problem is: if every time that something bad or unexpected prevents me from working from home, I shall never be able to work, as things happen to all of us all the times!!!
The question is then: how to learn to cope and to manage the stress and the anxiety of unexpected events in your life, in such a way that they do hinder on your success when working from home?
Be in control
When working in my working place for my employer, the struggle is less noticeable. You get out of the house, and your brain is naturally challenged and engaged by external elements – it could be colleagues telling what happened to them over the weekend, or in my line of work for my employer, it is customers asking for advice over financial or housing matters.
The main drawback I see in working on your own from home is isolation, as you expose yourself to over rampaging over personal matters, which could eventually take over your mental and physical capabilities to function on any of the most basic daily tasks. It is down to you, however, to learn to manage your isolation.
In first instance, you want to use the time you spend on your own to concentrate actively on your work. At the end of the day, if you were at work in a non-home based environment, you would not spend all of your time chatting about what you did at the weekend, but you would be required to concentrate on the task in hand to make your hours at work productive.
Be quiet, I’m working
And how about if you have the kids playing in the same room where you are trying to work? Or if ‘hubbie’ has just come back from work and wants to pour out with you all his frustration of the traffic he got caught during his commuting?
The most likely option – and the most advisable – is that you would still have a full time or part time main job, especially at the beginning of your home endeavours. This is recommended particularly as any new business will not secure immediate earnings, and you don’t want to risk reducing you and your family to leave out of nothing whilst there are still bills to pay.
However, this means that you will work additional hours at home to the ones already worked at your main job. That is me all over, by the way!!!
So, how to ensure that, when at home after a long day at work, you still remain productive in an effective way without letting your home life take over the few hours of the day you have left to dedicate to the job you are trying to set up so passionately?
5 tips to make a success of working from home
I have come up with 5 tips to make a success of working from home. Follow my tips and you will see the difference between life being in control of your success and you becoming master of your work-from-home life!
#1. Create your own working space
Whether it’s the comfort of your sofa or bedroom, ensure that at least when you work, if not the whole time, you have a space of your own for you to work undisturbed.
You may be a champion of multi-tasking. Nevertheless without a dedicated corner for you to keep your notes and your equipment, you will not be able to run your home business successfully.
Naturally, you will need to ensure you have storage space if the business you intend to run involves keeping stock of goods. If you are working freelance as a tutor, you may need a small study space to teach your pupils, for instance.
If, like me, you run an online business, all you need is really not much in terms of space: just about a notebook to jot down a few ideas, and room for a laptop. And that will be all!
#2. No interruptions, it’s your time
Naturally if you are working whilst the household is asleep, or whilst the kids are at school and your partner is at work, you will have the privilege of being able to work uninterrupted.
If however you have no option but to work whilst the rest of the family are also indoors, set a specific time where you kindly ask that for no reason whatsoever (over than life and death!) you are to be disturbed. You may want to arrange for babysitting by your partner if the kids are too small. Likewise you may want to ensure that the set time is not too long, in order not to make your ‘absence’ too onerous on the rest of the family. Nevertheless ensure that however long or short, that time span is respected.
At the end of the day, you are using that time to work and make a living, which ultimately will benefit yourself and, indirectly, your family members too.
#3. Self discipline and commitment
It may sound regimental, when in fact it is not as bad as it sounds.
At the end of the day, you are trying to establish your business, your livelihood. This may be your sole source of income or an added earning opportunity. Either way, you want to establish your home run business as you want to make a success of it.
Your home run business will require total commitment. I for one should know better, having given away easily to ‘alternative commitments’ which at times have taken priority over my work unjustifiedly. And this has happened primarily when things have got tougher.
As mentioned above, sometimes you need to be tougher with the ‘alternative commitments’. There have been two occasions this year, for instance, where my mum has come to stay with us for a few weeks. Well, those weeks barely managed to switch on my laptop, let alone working on my websites. I am not trying to justify myself of my absence from the online scene. This is no justification, as ultimately my business is the one that suffered from me not working on it.
What I should have done is ensuring that at certain times of the day and of the week, guests and family alike understood I was not available. Or I should have altered my working times to try and fit in everybody else’s requirements.
Not an easy task, I’ll admit that. But especially when your business is fully establish, you will find that you no longer need to work as long as initially, as the business will generate passive income once your brand is fully established on the market. This in turn will grant you more free time and more flexibility.
#4. Ensure your family supports you
None of the above can be achieved without the support of your family of course.
Ahead of embarking in a home based business, you may want to speak to your family and share with them your vision. Yes, admittedly initially your project may be welcomed with a pinch of skeptisism. But you need to explain why you want to do what you are embarking in. You need to put across to them that ultimately you would like to try out whether you could be successful as your own boss.
I’m sure all your family wants is for you to be happy. You will need to help them understand what your motivations are going to be, which will make you happy, such as the fact that you will have more flexibility of working hours, so that you can also meet more easily the demands of the household. The ultimate goal could possibly even be for you to make a wealth out of it, which in turn would benefit the whole family.
#5. Don’t overdo it
It’s easy when working from home, to let the business take over your entire life.
Yes, there may be days when you are going to work 20 hours out of the 24. This may happen particularly if you are trying to seal a deal, or if you have to meet a specific deadline.
However, this should not be the rule!!
Especially if, like me, you like to work early in the morning before everybody else is awake, or in the evening, you must not allow yourself to also work for the rest of of the day. This is most important especially if you are also working for an employer full or part time.
Likewise, you may set up some days of the week when you work flat out, but other days in the week which you will dedicate to a trip out with the family or to practice a hobby or to watch soaps for the whole dat (that will be me, cuddled with my dog under a big duvet!!) – anything other than work.
Sometimes overdosing it is as damaging to your business as doing too little.
I hope you will find the above tips useful. Naturally they are not fully exhaustive, but they want to be be general self-help ideas to aid in making your life easier whilst working at home.
If you have more ideas to propose, by all means leave your comment below. Likewise, if you believe the above is not going to work, do share your concerns with me, so we can start a healthy discussion.
Whatever your approach, it must be one that you are going to be comfortable with.
I won’t pretend home based business is easy matter. But the rewards are worth the long hours, the commitment and the determination!