In September of 2009, I wrote a post that you wouldn’t think to find here on the blog, entitled The Top 5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job and Work From Home.
I wrote it because:
- I always tell all sides of the story – no fluff or hype here; and
- Working from home is difficult and not for everyone.
With almost two years of working for myself under my belt, I’ve done a lot to adjust to the work-at-home lifestyle. However, there are still a few things that are much more convenient for a person when working for “the man”.
In this post, I’d like to recap those concerns and give you some advice as to what you can do from home to assist with those concerns.
YOU Make All the Decisions
Summary: Becoming your own boss is awesome. You don’t have to answer to anyone and you have the ability to take your business exactly where you want to take it.
The problem with this is that all decisions about all aspects of your business are up to you. As a result, the decision making process is more stressful and a lot more research needs to be done in order to know you’re making the right decisions, especially with things you’re unfamiliar with.
When you work for “the man”, there are decisions being made for the business every day that you don’t ever need to worry about, and there are systems of checks and balances behind each and every one of them.
Advice: The solution is simple. Get in contact with people who know more than you.
Even though you may work from home by yourself, you can find a team of people to become your system of checks and balances.
Here is my “team” and what they’re useful for:
- My CPA, who helps me with tax-time decisions and investments. If I have a question about money and how it should be recorded and properly managed, my CPA is my go to guy. I trust him enough to make a lot of the decisions for me, which takes a huge load off of my back.
- My Mastermind Groups, who help and guide me with whatever internet-related business decisions I have to make.
- A Business Coach / Mentor, who also helps and guides me, but in a more personal way with longer goals in mind.
- You, my followers and readers, who provide me with opinions and comments that often help me figure out what to do next.
Even though I’m on my own, it’s nice to know that really, I’m not.
Your Schedule Isn’t Set In Stone
Summary: Part of breaking away from the 9 to 5 is breaking away from that routine: wake up, go to work, come home. Rinse and repeat. It’s nice to be able to work when you want to, and it’s especially nice to take a day off here and there.
However, without that routine in place, it’s tough to stay disciplined enough to work or not work, when you should be doing the other. Personally, I found myself always thinking about my business and even doing work in the wee hours of the night, just because I could.
With a family, especially now with a child too, this isn’t the healthiest of lifestyles. Anyone who works from home should strive to stay disciplined enough to give themselves some time away from work to do anything else and enjoy life.
Advice: In a recent blog post on SPI, which was actually featured on lifehacker.com, I talk about my exact stragety for tackling this problem, which involves:
- Creating a Schedule: Yes, even though we all want to break away from that routine, we still need some kind of schedule. Without it, our lives will be unpredictable and unstable. With a schedule in place, my mind knows when to stop thinking about my business and my family knows exactly when it’s “daddy time”.
- A Separate Workspace: A physically separate workspace will do a couple of things. One, it will help you focus even more when you are working; and secondly, it will help stop you from being tempted to keep working when you shouldn’t. If there’s an office and it has a door – shut it.
- A Separate Computer: Along the same lines as a separate workspace, a separate computer that is for only for personal use will further delineate the line between working and not working.
Since implementing these strategies, I’ve been able to get so much more done, and spend more time with my family.
It’s Harder to Get Into Work Mode
Summary: When working from home, it’s tough to get into “work-mode” because, well – you’re at home! It’s really easy to hit that snooze button and stay in bed just a little bit longer, and the television is always playing some interesting game show (or Soap, if you’re into that) during the day.
Advice: Beyond a creating a schedule and having your own separate workspace, here are a few hacks I’ve learned that will help you get into work-mode even more:
- Get Dressed For Work at Home: You don’t need to put on business attire, but if you change out of your PJs and into something for the day, your mind will be ready to do stuff and get things accomplished. Trust me, I’ve worked in my pajamas many times and it’s really easy to just crawl right back into bed and go to sleep.
- Schedule Important Meetings or Interviews Early: If you know there’s something you must do, you’re more than likely going to make sure to get up in time and be ready for it. This is why I always try to schedule any interviews or meetings early in the morning.
- Exercise: I don’t know the science behind it, but after you exercise you often feel like you have more energy to do things. Of course, you have to make sure you’re drinking lots of fluids and eating right, or else you’re just going to feel tired instead.
Do you have any hacks you’d like to share for getting and staying in “work-mode” at home (or even at your 9 to 5)? Please share!
No Fellow Employees
Summary: Part of what I loved about my 9 to 5 job was the people who I was working with. A lot of them became good friends and we often took breaks during the day to chat about whatever. Now that I work from home there is none of that. No one to talk sports with, no one to talk smack about our boss with, and no one to have lunch with. It can be a lonely world working from home.
Advice: In today’s world, fortunately, there are many ways to stay connected with people even while working from home. Namely – social media and online chat.
I use Facebook and Twitter during my breaks to chat with people and just feel like I have someone to talk to. For lunches, I usually have them with my family at home, but I often schedule lunches with my friends who work 9 to 5 jobs nearby too.
A lot of people who I met through my blog, Facebook and Twitter have actually become dear friends of mine, which definitely makes me feel like I’m not alone anymore. Even just reading and responding to comments made here on the blog helps too. So to all of you – thanks!
Summary: This is probably the biggest issue for many people who work for themselves, and the reasons should be obvious. Health insurance is expensive, and dental care and vision are not cheap either. No more 401k (with matching), and no more vacation hours or sick leave.
The true meaning of employee benefits are not fully understood until you’re working for yourself.
Advice: I’ll write a more detailed post about benefits for the self-employed later, but what it really comes down to is research.
For health insurance, there are a lot of “scams” and things out there that say they are indeed a form of health insurance, but they are not – so you have to be really careful. Another piece of advice is to call your state’s department of health care services, because you may be able to qualify for certain grants. Even if you don’t, they will be happy to help you out and offer some advice.
For retirement savings, it’s not too difficult to start an IRA, which will definitely help you save money during tax time too. Again, if you have a CPA working with you, I recommend contacting them if you’re interested in investing. The sooner, the better.
And as far as sick hours and vacation time, you’ll have to just remember that because you work from home, you do have a little more flexibility with your schedule so you can take those days off, or even go on “mini-retirements” if you are able to. You’re your own boss, so there’s no need to sign a “request for days off”.
If any of you have anything you’d like to add as far as helping people who work from home, please contribute by commenting below. Thanks, and I wish you nothing less than success. Cheers!