I swapped the office cubicle for the spare room two years ago and I’ve never looked back. However, working from home isn’t as simple or as easy as it sounds. It certainly helped that I’d spent two years “easing myself in” – working at home temporarily whilst freelancing at other offices part time.
Dog-owners walk their dogs everyday and yet you never hear of people who take themselves out for a walk. If it’s good enough for our pets, it’s good enough for us!
I used to take public transport to work which involved a fair amount of walking – not great physical exercise but physical exercise none the less. After exclusively working from home for a few months I was literally piling on the pounds. Not good!
So, my first advice to home workers is to … get out of your home! Spend 30-60 minutes of the day exercising. You should at least enjoy the benefits of this amazing lifestyle revolution as there will be days where the benefits won’t be so apparent.
Sir Richard Branson (the British entrepreneur, best known for his Virgin Group of over 400 companies) always says that the single most important trick to increasing productivity is exercise.
Maybe the most important thing about working from home is to make money. Of course, we can all dream of earning a passive income (like The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss) but this takes time to set up and in the meantime you need to pay the bills.
I would always advocate having a certain amount of income already planned before you give up your 9-5. This is why I found it so useful to do a bit of freelancing for other companies part time while I made the switch to home working. You can always take your personal work to your job with you and work on it during downtime!
The best work comes from personal relationships. The closer these relationships are the better the work. Let me explain. If a top executive at a top company knows you and recommends you to work for a colleague it will be 100 times better and more profitable work than if you get a job from a 3rd party site such as Elance or PeoplePerHour.
So focus on your business relationships. Good clients will get you more good clients. Avoid bad clients like the plague.
How do you get good clients like the top executive at a top company? It’s much better to write about what you do in your blog and get good clients to contact you rather than to look for them.
This is a difficult one because everybody’s different.
Personally, I don’t have an alarm clock – I can usually rely on myself to wake up and start working before 9.30am but I know that is too lax for some people. I know one person who needs to wake up at a certain time and dress into their suit in order to “go” to work at home.
That may be important for them but for me it is more important to avoid distractions at certain periods of the day to concentrate on the most taxing jobs. These are key client tasks (designing, coding or preparing a document for a client) or other work that takes a similar amount of brain power (writing blog posts and newsletters). Similarly, there are times in the day when I’m less able to concentrate, at these times I do less demanding work such as social media, invoicing, accounting and certain email tasks.
So if I had a normal day – which I never do but if I did – it would go something like this:
|9.00 – 9.30||Tea. Check Analytics, Twitter, email, resolve what to do in the morning|
|9.30 – 11.30||This is the most productive part of the day and therefore distractions must be kept to a minimum whilst the most taxing work is completed. Whether or not the task or tasks are completed they will not actually be sent off to the client (or, in the case of a blog post, published) at this stage.|
|11.30 – 12.00||Tea. Check email, Twitter, answer blog comments.|
|12.00 – 1.00||Exercise|
|1.00 – 2.00||Lunch, check Analytics, Twitter, email, resolve what to do in the afternoon|
|2.00 – 4.00||This is the second most productive time of the day after the lethargy from the lunch has subsided. If important client work has been completed, I’ll send it off to the client after a review with an appropriately worded email and continue with any other taxing work that needs doing.|
|4.00 – 5.00||Tea. Check email, Twitter, forum, LinkedIn conversations.|
|5.00 – 6.00||This will either be taxing work or sending off work to client that was completed earlier in the afternoon after a review.|
|6.00 – 8.30||Sometimes quick run to the shops to purchase groceries or preparation and eating of dinner and watching TV.|
|8.30 – 10.00||After dinner lethargy has subsided this is another productive time of the day where I can do taxing work if I have to.|
So, you can see, even though I’m a naturally disorganised and spontaneous person, I have identified and isolated times in the day where I’m at my most productive.
However, I do stray from my self-imposed rules. Another thing I do is to flit between two client jobs. No book on productivity would ever recommend that but it works for me!
I hardly need to say that the family is the most important thing and the reason why you are doing all this. For this reason it is always necessary to have slack and time in your routine for family time both planned and emergency!
Increased quality time with your loved ones will, like exercise, increase your productivity.
Your chosen profession will obviously dictate the sort of equipment you will need to buy in for your home office. So all I will say here is don’t buy anything until there comes a day when you actually need it.
You wouldn’t believe how many home workers say to themselves: “Right, I’m running a business from home, I simply must go out and buy a fax machine!” It may well turn out, once you start working, that you don’t need a fax machine. Wait before making purchases!
I’m not a fan of charging clients per hour. But in order to get an hourly rate, calculate what you need to make if you were only working for 4 hours a day. In order words, make sure that you charge at least two times more than would like to earn if you’d had a traditional job.
I believe that working from home and pursuing a “DIY Career” provides an incredible opportunity to improve your health, carbon footprint, quality of life and can have a positive effect on the world! After a period of travelling to work and being told what to do I have found staying at home and pursuing my own dreams incredibly empowering.
Here are a couple of books that may help you on your way:
Do you work from home either part time or all the time? What problems and solutions do you have? I am really interested in this subject and I would be incredibly grateful for any tips you could give me.
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