When your home is your office, the benefits are many, but there are also pitfalls aplenty. These timely tips separate work from home to help you make the most of both.
Set a Schedule
To meet deadlines, freelancers should set daily and weekly hours. There’s no need to align with traditional office hours unless clients expect that, but you should decide in advance what blocks of time you will work. Early risers can succeed by plowing into to-do lists before dawn. While many successful freelancers get up early and work a traditional 9-to-5 schedule, stay at home moms might want to schedule around school dropoffs and practice, and night owls might set later work hours. Whatever works, stick with it.
Another hint is to bundle time-sapping errands, personal emails and carpool into a mid-afternoon break. Use the early morning hours to organize your tasks, work on billing or keep up on your taxes.
Create Work Space
Among the most wise of tips is to designate a work space. Spare bedrooms or basements work well, especially if they have a door to close, both for privacy and to help you turn off at day’s end. Keep it clutter and distraction-free and well stocked with office supplies.
Opinions vary as to whether freelancers should dress for success or if more casual wear will do the trick, but an oft-mentioned tip is to get out of the pajamas. Showering and dressing helps you transition to work mode. Consider the time you take to get ready and make coffee as your commute, which is often when people mentally prepare for the work day.
Use Child Care
Although a top benefit is staying home with your children, there may be times when you need to secure child care. If your kids are home all summer, find a sitter to come to the house or take them out for a few hours each day. You can also use summer camps or trade playdates with other work-at-home parents. You’ll still have more time with your kids than if you were at a 9-to-5 job, but the time will be guilt-free because you will have met your goals.
Working at home can be isolating. Break up the home hours by setting meetings at cafes, or take your laptop to the library or coffee shops. A change of scenery gets the creative juices flowing and helps you tap into the energy of the activity around you.
Another important tip is learning to say no when a client asks for more than you can handle to preserve the quality of your work as well as your sanity.
It’s equally important to say no to the friends and neighbors who assume that you can help out with their kids or errands since “you’re home all day.”
Despite the cultural emphasis on multitasking, freelancers need to concentrate on the task at hand. It’s too tempting to combine the tasks of home and work to the extent both suffer. Keep a list to jot down errands and to-do’s as they arise, and take care of them quickly so they don’t weigh you down.
Do one thing at a time, and do it right by giving it your full attention. The above tips can help freelancers do just that. At the end of your workday – or night – shut it down and move on to something else, such as relaxing or running out to dinner. You’ll wake up refreshed, and ready to work the next day.
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