How to Work From Home

I have been working from home for over 4 years now and it’s awesome! In the months preceding my leap from the corporate executive to easy going entrepreneur, I was very concerned about staying focused at home so I created a schedule to keep me disciplined.  I happened to be working with a career coach at the time, who helped me craft it, but anyone can do it.  It just takes planning, common sense and a willingness to adapt as you go.  Here are some tips to help anyone work at home better:

 

1.        Outline your day/be specific:

a.       Get up, walk the dog to get a coffee

b.      Shower

c.       Define start time – for me 9:30 am

d.      Spend x hours on x, y, z (I use a task list)

e.      Define lunch break – for me around noon

f.        1 pm back to work

g.       Continue to work for X hours on x, y, z

h.      6:00 pm stop working / make dinner (or more often, pour a glass of wine)

2.       Make a list of anticipated distractions to avoid:

a.       Laundry

b.      TV

c.       Shopping

d.      Long phone conversations

e.      House cleaning

3.       A week into the process, identify what is working and what is not

4.       Identify your prime time for productivity –  for me it’s late in the day around 5 or 6pm – and rework your schedule so you take care of ‘busy’ work like paperwork, billing, filing in the hours that you are least productive and focus your important tasks during the time you are most productive.  I am a publicity/marketing consultant and I am most creative at night so that’s when I do my important written work.

5.       Be realistic!

a.       Learn to set realistic deadlines for you and for your clients

b.      Don’t always say yes.  If you cannot handle any more work, tell the boss or client you need help or more time. Your reputation is riding on it.

6.       Enjoy your freedom

a.       Give yourself breaks

b.      Allow for time off or early days if work is covered

c.       Don’t spend all night working, end your work day at a reasonable time

7.       Stay organized

a.       Use desk files, buy a filing cabinet, have a supply closet of cabinet

8.       Be frugal

a.       Look for deals (Walgreen’s now refills printer ink cartridges as a fraction of the cost for a new one!)

b.      Use coupons for office supplies

c.       Recycle paper

d.      Buy a coffee maker for your home/office

9.       Schedule multiple client visits to maximize your commuting

10.   Billing – unless you can afford a bookkeeper, be on top of your billing. Use a good accounting software (it’s worth the price) and be vigilant about sending them out on time. If you are late by a few days in sending bills, you will feel the late payment and it will hurt!

11.   If you get sick. Be at home sick.  Don’t work because it’s there. Use your auto-reply and voicemail to let clients know you’re out sick and you’ll get back to them. It’s okay.

Dusty the office dog

12.   If you have a dog or pet, include them in your office.  I have a doggie bed under my desk and I walk him to the PO Box every day.  But don’t forget to put him outside when you do a conf call – if the last thing you want is a barking dog on a professional call!

13.   Make your office an office. It should not be an office/guest room/storage space/crafting room.  It must be a functioning office to keep you focused!   

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Gotta Love Short Weeks

Ah it’s so nice when it slows down the week of Thanksgiving.  Seems the whole world is already on vacation.  Emails are fewer, calls all but stop and you actually get a chance to catch up.  As a small biz owner there are several things I can take care of this week (aside from preparing for Turkey day.)

 Here’s what’s on my agenda:checklist.jpg

  • Update quickbooks, enter receipts (it’s nearly tax time after all)
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Filing
  • Scanning press clippings (and filing them)
  • Updating media contacts
  • Billing
  • New biz outreach
  • Blogging (check that off the list)
  • Hair & Nails

There you have it, a great week to get caught up.  Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Vamos a la Playa!

pacifico.gifIt’s that time of year when all us small biz owners have visions of white sandy beaches on our minds.  Every year I choose to close my business between Christmas and New Year’s, as does my husband, and we take off for a warm, tropical vacation.  The destination hasn’t really changed much – we always go somewhere around Mexicos East Cape, which is awesome.

Todeast-cape.jpgay I finalized our plans and everything is set.  I am looking forward to 8 days of warm sun, hot springs, fresh fish and cold Pacificos.  I am so grateful it seems to have slowed down lately. I may actually feel less stressed this year and not check my email as much. Although it pains me to know that now my Blackberry works down there, which I discovered last August – fortunately not until the last day of vacation.

As if there are not enough reasons to love being your own boss, my long winter escape is definitley one of the best! 

Do Something Good & Feel Good

Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007After last week’s Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 in Los Angeles, I am still on a high!  It was one of the most amazing and rewarding weeks of my life.  I was not roofing, siding, drywalling or even painting, no I was working with the media and collecting real life stories for the blog:  http://habitatforhumanitygla.blogspot.com/

I think I had the best job of the week because I got to tell the stories of the volunteers, who were amazing.  I heard about lasting friendships, feeling good about helping others, travels to far off places, skills learned and years given to HFH.  It was truly heart-warming.

 I wish this feeling I have now could last forever. If you’ve never volunteered to help others, I highly recommend you look into it.  And after you do it, you’ll know that as much as you put into it, you’ll get far more in return. Many of felt a little selfish becuase we felt so good!

One thing to remember though…when the event fades away, and you stop feeling that ‘high’ go do it again, and again, and again…so you can always feel this good and spread those good feelings throughout your life.

If you’re interested, the next JCWP is in May in the Gulf.  They need us…will you be there?