Working from home is not like the humdrum of going out to work. But it definitely comes with a humdrum of its own! Before you begin, it’s a good idea to take inventory of the things you need to have in place to prepare for this shift. You need to have a plan, self-discipline, and motivation along with a good workspace and an idea of your impediments. With these things in mind, let’s dive in!
1. Assess Your Self-Discipline
First and foremost, you have to be disciplined. It’s hard to overstate the importance of being a self-motivated worker. If you’re going to make it on your own, you’re going to have to be a good manager and a good employee. You need the strength to tell yourself what to do and when to do it, and then you need to follow through.
It can be hard to keep your juices going, but sometimes it can also be hard to stop them. It can be easy to get so wrapped up in your home-based business that it impacts your other responsibilities. Being aware of both of those aspects of self-employment is crucial.
There is another problem that can really wreak havoc on your time and productivity: spinning your wheels. Sometimes you can get deep into a project and lose track of time on insignificant details. It’s essential to pay attention to time sinks. In the same way you should take care not to “throw good money after bad,” don’t throw good time after bad. When you realize you’re wasting your time, cut your losses and move on.
2. Find Your Niche
There are numerous ways to determine what type of work you will do. I recommend that you brainstorm ideas using some of these questions.
- Given the time that you’re able to spend on work, what will make you more money?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What do you receive the most praise for?
Maybe you have received lots of compliments on your wooden bead necklaces, but they take you an hour to make, and you can’t charge more than $15 for them. That may not be a good option. Maybe programming would make you a lot of money, but you don’t have a particular interest in it, and the time it would take to train would be substantial. Maybe you have children or a disabled family member at home, limiting the time you have available. These questions should give you a good point of departure.
3. Consider Your Impediments
There are so many advantages to working at home that it can be easy to overlook the disadvantages or temptations. The fridge is close by. You never need to “get dressed.” People in your house may be very distracting. Sometimes it’s better to take off to a coffee shop or a co-working space to avoid distractions and boost your productivity. Keep in mind, a couple of expensive cups of coffee may be the cheapest rent you ever pay for an office away from your home.
4. Set Your Priorities
It’s one thing to get stuff done, but it’s another to get the right things done. Prioritizing (and sticking to those priorities) may be the most important thing you can do to ensure that your time is best used. It’s so easy to get distracted by the easy things or fun things. You need to focus on the tasks that will make your business the most profitable.
5. Optimize Your Environment
Having the right equipment is important. But having it all configured in a way that will help you get going and stay going is even more important. Maybe you need to have activity around you. Maybe you need silence. Maybe you work better with music; maybe better without. The point is to determine those things and optimize them to allow you to be at your most productive. This is one place where those of us who work from home have a great opportunity to excel or fail.
Typical work environments are built to maximize workers’ output. Employers often pay big bucks to offer their employees good office equipment and an environment to help them attain that output. Individuals often don’t think about these things because they aren’t working “at scale,” and they don’t have the money for that kind of equipment. But it really can have an impact on your productivity and even your health.
If you think you can’t afford it, get what you can when you can. Don’t be afraid to buy good quality items used, especially when it comes to office furniture.
Working from home is really about knowing yourself, what works for you, and what you know will help you be at your best, like a great morning routine or daily exercise or investing in a co-working space because you know you’ll be more productive. It is important to know how you work and also how to ask for help when you need it.
Considering these things will help you know if you’re ready to take the work-at-home plunge. Don’t let them scare you away! Some serious self-examination can prepare you for fulfilling, self-directed work with your eyes wide open.
What are some things you can add to this list? Are there other things to consider before you begin your work-at-home journey? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!