I originally wrote this in 2006 to help my (network marketing) organization build their business working from home. I’ve updated a few of the details, but for the most part this information is as relevant today as it was then (with the exception of #5…lol!)
I love working from home! I’ve been working from home for more than thirty years, so I’ve got all my systems in place. They continue to evolve as the world evolves.
You, on the other hand, may have found yourself working remotely for the first time in your life. Whether you are an entrepreneur, or a traditional employee, I hope these tips will make it a little easier.
What’s not listed here is a reminder to talk to people every day. Take time to make those connections. Even if you can’t do it in person, there are a lot of video-chatting options and the good old-fashioned (cell) phone to get the conversation started.
Lastly, I’ll share what my husband always told me: Work or don’t work. That means be present in whichever mode you’re in and focus on the task at hand – whether that’s making dinner or dealing with your clients – instead of doing one while wishing/thinking doing the other.
Ten Effective Ways to Work from Home
1. Be Disciplined
Just because you can roll out of bed in your pajamas and head to your desk doesn’t mean that’s a good idea. Pretend you’re going to the office (you are! The difference is it’s your office and you’re the boss). Put your phone on silent. No social media. No YouTube. Not even for five minutes! You’re at work. Act like it.
If you were to go outside the home to work, you wouldn’t be able to do laundry or cook dinner during the day. It’s important to focus on the task at hand – building your business, not having the cleanest house.
3. Have a Plan
Spend the first fifteen minutes of every day, or the night before to make a list of who needs to be called and why. Use a CRM, learn how to use it and set it up to automatically make this list. Whether you have fifteen minutes or five hours to work, you will be a lot more productive if you have a list in front of you.
4. Be Organized
There are so many good apps for making your work life easier – use them! Consistently. Diligently. Make sure to have one web-based filing cabinet (like One Drive) so your work can work where ever you work.
5. Get a Separate Phone Line – (look what’s changed since 2006!)
Preferably a land line. Cellular phones are convenient, but they still don’t sound as clear as a land line. Nothing’s worse than speaking with a client and having the connection break up. A separate line will make income taxes easier since you can write it off as a business expense (confirm this with your accountant). If you were outside the home at an office, you wouldn’t be able to answer your “home” phone. The same needs to apply when you’re working from home – don’t answer the home line; let voicemail take over. If you have a separate business line and give that number out to all your clients, you’ll know virtually all calls that come in will be business related. This is especially useful if you have children. You don’t want them answering your business line and talking with your customers.
6. Have a Designated Work Space
The easiest way to ‘go to work’ is to have a space set aside to do your work. Ideally it’s a space that can remain in work mode on a permanent basis (there are tax advantages to doing this) and has a door so when you’re done working, you can close the door behind you and ‘go home.’ One of the traps to working at home is the idea that it’s always there and you can work any time. This can lead to working ineffectively and eventually burn out. Be disciplined and focused when you’re in your designated workspace and you’ll be more productive and more effective.
7. Have a Goal
Know why you are working. Why are you building a business from home? Is it for supplemental income? Financial freedom? To have more time for your family? Only you can answer this question. Once you know why, set a time to it – when do you want to achieve this goal? And most importantly, write it down and keep it near you. Now work backwards – what will it take to achieve this goal? On a monthly basis? On a weekly and on a daily basis? Again, write it down and include what you’re willing to do to achieve this goal, e.g. Limit social media? Work 10 hours a day? Talk to more people? One way to keep your goal in front of you is to write it on the bathroom mirror (painty pens work well).
8. Take Responsibility
This is your business and you have no one to answer to but you. You are the CEO of your own business. You determine how fast your business grows and how fast you achieve your goals. Treat it like a business. If you would commit to working as hard for yourself as you have for other people, you’re sure to be successful!
9. Find a Mentor
You need someone to bounce ideas off of. This person needs to be someone you respect, knows more than you do, and would be willing to guide you. A mentor does not need to have experience in your field as much as having had relevant business experience. Choose a mentor who has been successful. Join a networking group.
10. Have Fun!
It’s been said a million different ways: If you do what you love, the money will follow; if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life; do what you love and you’ll love what you do. If you’re not having fun, keep looking until you find your passion – success will follow automatically.