Saturday, June 27, 2009

Working at home rules

You see the signs everywhere. Plastered along the roadside, taped to light poles, and even on cars. "Work at home." Sounds great, doesn't it? Perhaps.

It's definitely a great opportunity if you can find something you love doing and do it from home ... if it helps you create a better life balance. As a freelancer, I have more control over the assignments I take, and I choose my own work hours. But there is a downside. A big one.

First, consider you're never really out of the office. I haven't taken a vacation in a year where I wasn't working on something for a client in from some exotic locale. This means I'm breaking even with my office position, because I was never able to completely separate myself from the business, even when I was away.

You're also subject to the whim of fate. Clients fall on rough times. Advertising dollars drop. People stop buying the widgets you're paid to develop. In the corporate world, you might end up laid off. In the freelance business, the phone stops ringing.

But I think one of the biggest challenges is simply creating the structure to make your at-home business work. Do you need to keep regular, if shortened, business hours by the phone? Have to planned a certain amount of time each week that will be your work time without outside responsibilities (watching kids, cleaning house, etc.)? Is there someone else in the family who brings in a steady paycheck (and health insurance) to keep the finances steady? (This isn't necessary, but it does offer more stability.)

I think you have to be more organized, more dedicated, and possess a spirit of planning to make working at home work for you. After all, there are a lot more distractions when you're working from your nest. And there are many advantages that make it worthwhile if you can commit yourself. On the good days, I think there's nothing else in life I'd rather be doing.

One final note: I know some people who work for a company from home on one or more days a week. This is also a great opportunity, but I still think you must follow the rules and keep a separate work space from the hubbub of the household.

Today, I'm going to offer myself these three gifts:
1. Create a dedicated work space
2. Work in some "me" time
3. Plan 30 minutes to evaluate my business goals

What will you do for yourself today?

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