This week features a post from my friend and three-time WineShop at Home hostess, Allison. Allison not only loves our wine (who doesn’t?) she also works from home with her own freelance business, and she’s one of the most responsible people ever when it comes to working from home.
I’ve asked her to share some of her work-from-home tips because, let’s face it: who couldn’t use a little more motivation when it comes to working from home? Take it away, Allison!
If you work from home, you know that it can be simultaneously freeing and challenging in some very odd ways. Yes, you can set your own hours and yes, you can save a lot of money on commuting and ordering lunch every day but you also might notice that your personal life tends to meld with your work life in confusing ways.
For example: picking up the dry cleaning suddenly becomes an item on your work to-do list. Checking email after dinner doesn’t feel like that big a deal because, hey, your computer is right there, anyway! Might as well crank out a few after-hours messages!
And one of the worst habits: never stopping (my fiancé really gets on my case about this one) and/or never starting (how many of us have done that!?)
Over the years, I’ve found a few practices that have helped me become a successful work-from-homer. Of course, everyone is different, so I suggest you take the ideas that work for you and leave the rest.
Tip #1: Commit to Office Hours
When I first started working from home, I was a recently-single woman living alone. That basically meant that I threw myself wholeheartedly into my work because, hey, what better way to get over a broken heart than to drown your tears in an ocean of endless work?
I took on way too many clients and suddenly found myself mired in so much work that I just never stopped. I’d get up at 7 am and work until about 7 pm, maybe stopping for a lunch break around noon. It was totally exhausting and I started to resent my business.
It was around then that I discovered how important it is to set work hours. These days, I might get up early and crank out some emails if I feel energized by it, but I always, always have a set stopping point. Otherwise I’d go crazy.
Office hours are really important if you have trouble getting started, as well. I have found that my best hours are in the morning between 8 am and 11 am, so I put my most pressing work during those hours. It’s on my calendar, so I know I have to do it!
Tip #2: Get Clear on Your Priorities
How many times have I sat down at my desk and started going down the list of my to-do’s, only to find myself totally overwhelmed 30 minutes later?
This is something I’ve only just worked out recently: tackling your to-do list in the order it was written does not work. It’s exhausting, it will have your brain hopping around too much, and it will result in a lot of busy work that probably doesn’t move you forward too much.
Now, I take a different approach. In the morning I look over my to-do list and I pinpoint the single most important task on the list. I put a star next to it, and I do that task first. Because of this practice, my productivity has gone through the roof!
Often, the most important task is also the most scary. For example, picking up the phone to have a sales call with a potential client. Eep! That one can be a bit nerve-wracking, but it’s the one thing I have to do that day that will move my career forward the most. Once that task is out of the way, I can relax and work on the smaller, more tedious tasks, like responding to email and picking up the dry cleaning (see how that dang dry cleaning keeps creeping in there!?)
Tip #3: Remember Your Why
I don’t struggle too much with getting my work done because I have one huge motivation: rent. Unlike some people who work from home, I do not have a spouse who brings in ample income; I am the breadwinner. If I don’t make rent, we get kicked out.
What a great motivator!
Armed with this stark reality, I’m up every day, plugging away and doing my best. I rarely miss deadlines and I track everything meticulously.
While paying rent may not be your primary motivation for making money (say, if you have another job that pays the bills, your spouse makes a lot of money, or you’re retired and working from home is more of a passion project), it’s important to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and what the end result will be if you succeed.
Are you working toward earning a trip? Paying off the house? Getting a new car? Something else? When you can clearly picture the amazing results you’ll see if you reach your goal, it will make it easier to get to work.
Remember that You Have a Choice
Finally, remember that you have a choice! If you want to, you can go get a 9-5 and earn a steady income where people will manage you more closely and you’ll be forced to go into an office each day. It’s up to you—and for some people, that’s really the best option.
If you remember that you have a choice in the matter, everything gets easier. On days when I struggle, if I think to myself, “Hey, Allison, you don’t have to do this. You could definitely go get a job,” it doesn’t take long for me to remember how awesome it is to work from home.
And for me, that makes all the difference.
Thanks so much, Allison! If you’re thinking you’d like to work from home, WineShop at Home may be the perfect fit for your lifestyle. Click HERE to connect with me directly and learn more.