Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 Tips to Successfully Work from Home

Whether you are a free-lancer or have a home-based business, working at home has its peculiarities. As a free-lancer, over the years I´ve learned to adapt to doing my thing in different situations, to include a party during which I wore earplugs and sat at my computer to meet a translation deadline!
It may be difficult for others who hold regular jobs to understand that just because you don´t go to an office you are not always available. This can include members of your own family of course. If you have a home office you can shut the door to, that´s great – I´ve had it and it´s pure bliss – but if you don´t , join the ranks of people determined enough to lie down in bed propped up with pillows, while we get the job done.
1.- Block out hours on your planner during which you need to work
If you´re a freelancer and your work-load and your deadlines fluctuate, you may need to do this on a per-project basis.
2.- Dress the part even if nobody else will see you
While it´s great to be able to work in your PJs I find that I have more drive when I´m dressed and groomed and I'm more assertive when I need to be on the phone for work.
3.- Get out of the house!
Some people prefer to work in the same place because it helps them get in the frame of mind to concentrate. However, at times I prefer to go to the library, a Starbucks or the local bookstore, because there I cannot get side-tracked into cleaning or taking a nap!
4.- Turn off your e-mail and phone alerts. Better yet, turn off the phone!
Checking your e mail and answering the phone can be very distracting, and it takes time to get back into gear every time you take a call.
5.- Schedule breaks during your working time
By scheduling regular brakes every hour or two, I find it easier to stay on task
6.- Schedule free time
“Free” is the whole point of free-lancing. Free-lancers and home-based entrepreneurs may find it difficult to completely shut off work. But it's healthy to take time away from the computer or from your business, so that you can enjoy friends and family and recharge.
7.- Pace yourself
When I was younger, I was afraid of turning down free-lance gigs, so I took them all on and finished them even before deadline, even if it meant no going on little or no sleep. Now I realize that it´s ok to tell a client that I´m booked for the next two weeks. Most of the time, they can wait and I´m less frazzled.
8.- Explain your work to your kids
Your kids may not understand that your work is just as important as that of the other parent who has a regular job. Explain to them what you do for a living and if they are very young and you must work around them, tell them how long you need to be left alone for. When my girls were younger, I would say “Mommy needs to be on the computer (or the phone) for as long as three Dora the Explorer episodes”. Now, they get it.
9.- Work during your peak hours
If you are lucky enough to be able to choose, I suggest you work during your peak hours. I´m not a morning person and I´m a lot more productive later in the day, but I cannot always take advantage of that, being a mom of young kids. I can, however, get twice as much done in the same time if I write or translate starting at around noon.
10.- Keep in touch with other free-lancers or home-based entrepreneurs
And if you have any other tip to add to mine … please share them!

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