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How To Work At Home

May 12, 2008
If you are thinking of working online at home, you are probably thinking of the many benefits that this can bring: no traffic jams, no boss, no meetings, and you get to choose your favourite brand of coffee!

Sounds good? It is! However, there are some disadvantages to working at home. Besides the loss of monthly pay check, there are the interruptions (from children, friends, deliveries etc), the responsibility (if you don't get the work, you don't get the pay), the loneliness (no giggles round the water fountain) and the inevitable merging of home and work life.

For me, the advantages of working at home vastly outweigh the disadvantages, but if you are used to working for someone else, it can be difficult at first. It's five years since I became self-employed, and over that time I have developed the following systems.

1. Time Management. Whether your business is part-time or full time, you need to designate the hours you will spend on it. Whatever your lifestyle, develop a timetable that works for you and fits around other commitments, such as the school run. If you work in the evening, delegate some housework tasks to your family.

2. Friends and Family. Even if they support your home business, your nearest and dearest can sometimes forget that just because you are at home, you are not available to take their calls or attend to their problems at any time of the day. Make sure they understand that you are not to be interrupted during working hours, except for emergencies, and tell them when you will be free for their call.

3. Discipline Yourself. When you work at home there is no-one to give you warnings or sack you. It's too easy to lie in, or finish early if you feel tired. But you have to remind yourself that there is no guaranteed pay any more. Disciplining yourself to get the work done is more difficult when you are your only boss. If you find it difficult to keep to your timetable, you need motivation. Remind yourself daily of why you are working at home. Put a note or pictures on your desk. It might be a wealthy retirement, your kids' future, four holidays a year, but whatever it is, make it something that will get you out of bed every morning.

4. Prioritise. When there's no-one to tell you what to do, it's too easy to get side-tracked by unimportant jobs, or to put off the more tedious tasks. Create a to-do list system which prioritises certain jobs that must get done. I have a daily to-do list of tasks that need to be done EVERY day (e.g. working on articles, answering emails etc), a weekly to-do list and a master to-do list of things that can be done once the daily/weekly tasks are complete. These can be star-marked or colour-coded for priority. When an idea occurs to you, write it into your to-do list so you don't get distracted by it in that moment.

4. Support Network. The camaraderie of being with other people is one of things that people miss most of all when they work at home. If you have an online business you will spend a lot of time alone and this can have a negative effect. In my experience, the best remedy is to join some online forums where you can share your thoughts and ideas, ask for advice and have a laugh. I have made many friends on online internet marketing forums and gained much insight and help with my business. For me, it's one of the most important aspects of an online business, and visiting forums is on my daily to-do list.

5. Exercise. Your body will not thank you for the hours spent hunched over a computer keyboard. Make sure you have some kind of daily exercise plan or stretch-out, such as yoga, or a regular visit to the gym.

6. Switch Off. When you work at home, the division between work and home life can become blurred, but if you don't switch off properly from work you can become stressed and irritable. Once you have finished for the day, do something specific between your work and leisure hours that will help you to switch from one to the other, such as taking the dog for a walk, doing your exercise session or whatever works for you. You might even want to switch your computer off so you are out of work mode completely.

Starting a home business is exciting, but it can also be daunting. By using the tips above and keeping a positive outlook, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of working at home and never look back!
About the Author
Ros Bott is a writer and life coach and runs her own home business. Her website at Financial Freedom offers free training newsletters and many home business opportunities.

Her coaching site is at Career & Confidence Coaching
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