Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monthly Newsletter Article: Top Tips for Working at Home

In order to save money, many of us have chosen to work out of our homes. The option to work from home is also a necessity for many of us who stay home with our small children. But living and working in the same place can prove to be a challenge. We often find ourselves working too many hours, feeling isolated, or finding too many excuses NOT to work (I'll get to that project once I change the laundry..."). Having worked from home for many years, I thought I would share a few tips for keeping yourself sane as combine your work and home life into one location.

Here are a few of my top tips for successfully working from home:

  • Create a designated office space.  I know that not everyone has an entire room to dedicate to their home office, but you need to find a corner or just a desk that is ONLY for you do business at.  If you have a room that you use as studio, put a desk in the corner so that you can do business tasks.  Having everything in one place will help you get down to work right away when you need to.  Keep it tidy and don't let non-work items pile up on it.
  • Set office hours.  And stick to them!  If you are (precariously) balancing your life, you might not be able to work traditional hours.  Sit down and be very honest about when you can work.  I can only schedule work on MWF from 8am to 11am because that's when my daughter is in school.  I also set separate "studio" hours.  During my studio hours, I work on my arts and crafts.  I am better able to stay focused on business tasks if I know I will have time later to do what I really love doing; sewing, painting and paper crafting.  Ask your family and/or housemates to respect your work time and promise that you will stick to the hours scheduled as well.
  • Keep yourself on task.  When it's office hours time, go to work.  Make sure you are fully dressed, go to your designated area and start working.  I find it's best to have a list of goals in mind for the day.  At the end of my work hours, I spend a few minutes making a to do list of things I want to get done during my next designated work time.  In addition to getting a jump start on my next work day, I also find that making this list makes me feel better about stopping my work.  It allows my to stick to my scheduled work time and move onto other things without guilt or worry.
  • Schedule breaks. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you aren't entitled to a lunch break!  Make sure you take breaks during your work hours so that you don't burn-out and start to avoid work.  BUT!  Don't do things on break that will distract you from getting back to work (like that Real Housewives marathon on Bravo TV).  Eat a nice lunch while reading a magazine.  Or go for a walk.  If most of your work is on the computer (which is the case for many of us) don't spend your break on the computer, answering personal emails or surfing around.  Not only could you lose your work mojo, you also won't be giving your mind, body and eyes a rest from the computer.
  • Be social.  And I don't mean hop on Facebook! (Which is another time killer for many of us).  Make sure that on work days, you schedule some time to get out in the world and socialize.  I found that simply going to the gym and being around other people alleviated the depression that would come over me if I spent an entire day, alone, in my office. 
  • Make yourself accountable.  Find a friend or a business coach.  Tell them your goals for the week.  Sometimes knowing you will have to report your progress to someone else is all the motivation you need to get the job done.
  • Remember this is a "real job".  I think that many artists and crafters often feel guilty for taking time to work on their businesses.  By selling our arts and crafts, we are doing something we truly love and find enjoyable and fun.  Because of that, we often feel like we are just "playing" or have been told our work is "just a hobby".  Don't fall into that trap!  Just because you are doing something for living that you feel is enjoyable, doesn't mean it's a hobby.  It makes you lucky.  You will only find success if you start treating yourself like a professional!  Give your "job" the time and respect it deserves and you will surely see your "hobby" turn into a profitable business.
Set up a work schedule and try it for a week.  I'd love to hear how these tips work out for you!

Do you have any tips for working from home?

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