What could possibly be difficult about working in the comfort of my own home each day? My commute is approximately five seconds down a hallway. I get to pick the radio station. And, snacks? They're available any time I want, and may even include a glass of wine.
Before you decide to ditch the 9-to-5 cubicle and find a work-at-home position, I envy you. I really do. Why? Your only distraction is likely social media notifications beeping on your cellphone. I might be typing in my slippers right now, but making my home double as an office is no easy job.
1. Staying Motivated and On-task
When a spare bedroom serves as an office, there's no boss to loom over your shoulder. You're on your own to get things done on time and make the daily to-do list disappear. If you're not a natural go-getter, and one who is up at the crack of dawn, you'll need a little help staying on task.
I use Google Calendar to map out my day, week and month. I fill it with reminders of writing deadlines, when to invoice clients, and schedule interview appointments so I don't miss a thing. Sometimes I even place a stack of unpaid bills on my desk as a visual motivator to simply get things done.
2. Avoiding Everyday Distractions
So, you're already highly organized, use a timer to limit your Facebook browsing, and have vowed to not take personal phone calls during your work hours. Good for you. Now it's time to tackle the unforeseen distractions that will plague your home office.
The Fed-Ex man rings the doorbell which makes the dogs bark when I'm deep in thought. A water pipe has burst when I've been up against a deadline. And, my Internet connection has gone out on my busiest day of the month. To avoid these inevitable distractions, I leave my home office to do certain tasks. Try the library, a co-working office space or a coffee shop when you need to focus 100 percent on a project and can't afford any distractions.
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3. Sticking to a Work Schedule
Yes, I mentioned having set work hours above. If you don't plan out your work days ahead of time, do it now. Not only will this train your brain to stay on task and be productive during set hours, but it also gives you a more professional, organized appearance to those around you.
Treat your work-at-home job -- whether you're an employee or entrepreneur -- with respect. If you work full-time, set aside 40 hours each week to complete work tasks. During that time, you're not allowed to run personal errands or sit on the couch and watch a movie. Make generating income your priority.
4. Resisting Hermit Status
Staying at home for work sounds great until you realize you're always at home. I work at home, have hobbies at home, and spend time with my family in my home. Sometimes, I just need a change of scenery and to talk to someone other than my dogs and turtles during the day.
Make it a habit to schedule lunch dates with friends or colleagues. Join a gym and take a regular class each week to improve your health and make new friends. Go for walks before you start your day to get invigorated by the fresh air. Make it a point to get out of the house at least once a day, even if it's only for an hour.
5. Preparing for the Unexpected
Owning my own small business is truly a dream come true. I get to write about things I love, interview interesting people and learn new facts each day.
When I was struck with a severe month-long illness, I started to worry about the stability of my writing business. What if I were to be hospitalized or unable to work for several months? That's when I learned about short and long term disability insurance.
Could you manage to pay the rent or mortgage, a car payment, put food on the table and keep up with utility bills if you were unable to generate income for a year? I couldn't. Short-term disability can provide payments to you while you heal from a disabling injury, lengthy illness or difficult birthing experience.
Long-term disability insurance can be a life saver if you're diagnosed with an acute illness such as cancer, osteoarthritis, a mental disorder or heart disease. Consider talking with an independent agent to learn more about business insurance as a safety net to support you during a difficult time.