Tips and Tricks for Working from Home

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Working from home while being self-employed has both its benefits and its difficulties.

Your schedule is often more flexible. Flexibility can be a blessing and a curse. You’ll want to get into a routine. Research in the morning, write during the day. Get your first drafts done by noon so that you can edit from 3 – 5. Call insurance companies in the morning and do your coding in the afternoon. Work on your marketing in the morning and package and ship your products after your hour of marketing is complete.

It can rain, snow, sleet, or hail—the weather can be absolutely dreadful, and you can sit inside and work away. Of course, depending on the type of work you do from home, you’ll still have to step into the elements every so often: mailing a package, meeting with a client, picking up supplies, etc.

You don’t have a commute, so you get minutes (or hours) to use for something better than sitting in a car or on the bus. Of course, depending on your circumstances, it may be nice to have some time each day to sit in the car and listen to the radio, an audio book, or enjoy the semi-silence.

Work will often come in waves. You have to do your best to keep on top of the work as it comes in because work flow isn’t very controllable. If you’re doing medical billing, you are at the mercy of your doctors, dentists, therapists. If you’re writing or designing from home, you can be at the will of clients or the company you are freelancing for. If you’re selling products, orders can come in every hour of the day. This means you’ve got to do (or schedule) the work as it comes in.

Here are some things to consider if you are looking for a stay at home job or are already working from home. What really motivates you? Do you enjoy helping people? Is it the ability to have a flexible schedule? Do you want to make a little extra money from home or do you want a work from home career? Use that information to narrow down your work from home options.

Don’t be afraid of telling your clients that you work from your home office. There were times when my wife or I were working with a client and they would hear our kids playing (or screaming) in the background. It wasn’t awkward because our clients knew we worked from home.

Find a quiet place. Even if you don’t have kids or pets that want your attention, it’s so nice to have a place that you can go to and call your “office.” My first office was the largest closet in our apartment—no shoes or coats or junk, just me and a little table and a laptop. You need a place to go and put on your working hat so that when work is done, you can take off your working hat and live in the rest of your home.

Computer, printer (and printer ink), phone, modems, and all other technology tends to want to stop working when you need them most. Have a backup office. It could be the library, a friend’s house, mom’s—where it is doesn’t matter as much as having a backup figured out ­before something goes wrong.

It’s good to have someone who can show you the ropes. If it’s something you’ve done for a long time and you are just moving your business into your home, that’s one thing. If you are trying to learn a new business and you are working from home for the first time, it can be challenging. Find someone who has run a business out of their home (hopefully in a similar industry) that can be your mentor. People are usually happy to help answer a question or give advice every once and a while.

If you’re already working from home but you’re not having the success you want, read our article about setting a vision statement and a mission statement.

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