Thinking of starting a work-at-home business while the baby is napping or the kids are in school? Nowhere in the working world is a boss going to give you the kind of flexibility you get working for yourself.
No need to justify knocking off early to take the kids for ice cream or playing hooky on a whim to take advantage of a sunny day. Nothing compares to taking your lunch breaks with your two-year-old and their teddy bear or working to the sounds of laughter in the playroom. It’s the reason more and more moms are choosing to work from home.
But before you get ready to trade in morning coffee breaks around the water cooler for playing peek-a-boo between client conference calls, there are a few Golden Rules for working at home you must follow.
1. Designate a workspace. Find a quiet corner of the house where you can set up your workspace, preferably with enough storage space for files and any other related items. The next best thing is a portable filing folder to storing paperwork and clearing work clutter off of common family areas.
2. Schedule official ‘office hours.’ Maybe it’s early in the morning before the household wakes up and when the baby is napping or maybe you hire a baby-sitter for a couple of days a week. Whatever you do, you need to schedule in undisturbed focus time.
3. Get organized (to the extreme). Pre-pack lunches and activity bags, create a family in and out box to manage the things that come and go from the house, and plan your weekly menus and bulk shop for ingredients.
4. Set clear boundaries. Let friends and family know that you are working from home and set clear boundaries on calling or dropping in. The same holds true for clients. Let them know when you are available and manage their expectations by avoiding responding to voicemail and email in ‘off’ hours.
5. Find help. Parenting and building a business are both full-time jobs. Doing both requires ‘outsourcing’ tasks. The good news is you get to ditch the stuff you hate doing anyway, like cleaning the toilets or bookkeeping. It doesn’t matter what you get help with - the key is getting help.
6. Set daily goals. Use daily goals to stay focused and get priority tasks done. Remember to make your goals SMART (Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Time-Sensitive). For example, growing your web traffic by 10 per cent by next month or adding three new clients this quarter.
7. Celebrate your successes. All work and no play make mommy a dull (and often overtired, grumpy and overwhelmed) girl. Take the time to celebrate the small daily victories and treat yourself to a bit of me-time for the big milestones.
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