Ah, the joys of a home-based business. Not having to change out of your jammies to begin writing. Being able to just leave to do an errand whenever you want. Roz Chast’s cartoon in the 12/6/10 New Yorker, called “The Freelance Life”, uses the punch line “Honey, I’m STILL HOME!” Great life, huh . . . oh, really?
I’ve worked from a home office for over 20 years. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Witness the bored cat who takes a leisurely stroll over your computer keys; the unfinished projects lying around the house that call out faintly to be completed; the realization that you’ve just spent the last seven hours tapping away without a break. It’s a challenge even for the most self-disciplined among us to work at home successfully.
So, I offer a few tips for those of you who are in my situation and haven’t been doing this for your whole lives yet.
Change out of your jammies. Pretend you are really going to work. I’ve found that if I don’t put on at least my lined jeans, a corduroy shirt, and regular shoes, I just don’t take it seriously enough and give it my all. Establish a clear boundary between your leisure time and your work day.
Find a good schedule and stick to it. Decide when you are most productive during the day, set up a schedule and try to work those hours each day. Schedule lunch, breaks, and close of business, so that you don’t forget to eat, go to the bathroom regularly, and stop working. Resist the temptation to log in again after work hours. Don’t let working at home interfere with your physical or mental health.
Treat your home office like it’s really an office. Even if you don’t have a separate room for an office, use a desk and file cabinet, not a corner of your kitchen table. Not that my own office is perfect, but I can find everything I need right away and my invoices are always up to date. I go to my office to work, and I leave when I’m done; the physical separation between work and play allows me to have the energy to enjoy and succeed at both.
If you have the additional challenge of providing child care while working at home, please share your ideas on how you run your home office. I wish all of you the best in managing your home-based businesses and achieving your dreams.
©2010, 2014 Fran Fahey