I’m the type of person who loves to work from home. I hate having to wake up in the morning, get ready, and rush out the door, barely managing the time to grab a breakfast bar. I hate careening out of my apartment parking lot, and fighting traffic, only to be late for work. I hate arriving at the office and forcing a smile to show people I care, when I don’t. And I hate working around people I have to see everyday. I especially hate someone hovering over me, making sure I’m doing the job right. I know my capabilities, and I know I’m a hard-worker. I also know that humans make mistakes that are most of the time, easily fixable. I don’t need someone spelling out my errors, or criticizing them. I think, and work better, independently.
Working from home is not for everyone, but most people love it, including myself. So, of course, it’s been a dream come true to be able to work from home for the past two years. My first at home job was a nightmare because it was customer service based, and as anyone who’s worked in the field can tell you, most people who call or email customer service are idiots. It took me all of six months to snap at a customer and get fired. Of course, before that I was slowly turning into a bitter and angry person who hated his job. Getting fired was the best thing to happen to me, because it gave me my life back and helped me reevaluate my ambitions and priorities. So while not every work-at-home job will be great, some are. You just need to find one in the field you love, and one that works for you.
The job I have now is perfect for a writer. I’m an instructor for an online program that caters to working adults. I still get to work from home, but am allowed to be creative, and get to teach and educate adults on what I love best: writing. The job also gives me the opportunity to get my own writing done (when I’m able to motivate myself), and freelance as well. But sometimes, the motivation to work just isn’t there. There have been instances when it’s taken me half the day to get enough energy to begin work. So I realized it’s important to have a plan and stick with it.
To anyone who works from home and needs to manage their time better, here are a few simple tips. These can work for any job, whether it be for a writer, or someone running their own business in a home office. It can also be used for anyone who doesn’t work from home, but wants to stay focused on their writing.
1. Create a to-do list. The best way to impose order on the chaos of working from home is to give your work some structure. It’s important to jot down your goals for the day, week and month. Not only will you get more done, but you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment every time you check off a task on the list.
2. Make a schedule. By the time you’ve made yourself a cup of coffee, checked your e-mail, returned some calls and surfed the Net for the latest news, it’s almost time for lunch. That’s why it’s important to develop a daily schedule to organize your time. If you’re a morning person, for example, you may want to get started on work before breakfast and get as much done as possible before eating. It also helps to designate work hours, complete with breaks and lunch time. A regular 9-5 might be best, but each individual is different and the schedule can reflect that. How you structure your schedule doesn’t matter-as long as it works for you.
3. Find a specific work space. This may sound obvious, but it’s hard to screen out distractions when your spouse, kids, or friends can walk in at any minute and start bothering you while you’re trying to work. That’s why it’s a good idea to set up shop in a den or spare bedroom that has a door which can be closed when you need to concentrate on your work. If that’s not possible, explain to your family that there are certain hours during the day when you will be working and ask them to respect your boundaries. (Of course, that’s easier said than done!)
4. Avoid non-work related emails and phone calls during office hours. Phone calls and emails can be incredibly distracting when trying to get work done. Don’t fall into the trap! Turn off cell-phones and unplug house phones if possible. Refrain from checking emails until the end of the day. Create a specific email account for work purposes, and only log onto that account when working. These distractions will help get the job done faster, and more efficiently.
5. Go out for lunch. While it’s tempting to think that you can save money by eating in, it’s important to step out and take a breath of fresh air when stuck indoors all day. Walking down the street to a neighborhood cafe, coffee shop, or fast-food joint (this one should be less often) will allow for a much needed break. If spending money on lunch every day is too excessive, go out for a coffee or even a quick walk to re-energize and reinvigorate yourself. Prepare lunch at home the day before and eat it at a nearby park. Just make sure to step out. A breather is necessary when working from home, and a breath of air and signs of life are a must.
6. Take breaks. Treat your day as though you’re in the office. In addition to lunch, make sure to take two 10-minute breaks. Go outside, eat a bowl of ice cream, listen to the news. Just step away from the computer and rest your eyes. Make sure the 10-minute break doesn’t turn into a 30 minute one, however, because it’s important to stay on track and stick to the schedule.
7. Avoid errands. Don’t distract yourself from work by grocery shopping, housecleaning, or cooking when you’re supposed to be concentrating on work. Take care of all errands outside of work hours.
Most importantly, never let yourself forget why you’re working from home. And be thankful you have freedom and independence that most people don’t. As long as you can stay motivated and focused, the possibilities are endless.
The Accidental Blogger