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How To Make Home-Working Work For You

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, some 500,000 people start their own business every year...

Whilst we do not have an exact figure as to how many of these businesses are home-based, the Internet certainly makes working from home a far easier option than ever before.

Additionally, as organisations seek to reduce costs and turn to freelancers and contractors, freelancing has become an increasingly popular method of working, where obviously home acts as a base.

However, working from home is not without its challenges as work and home life can become blurred.

How can you make working from home work for you?

Mary Cummings, a freelancer marketing consultant and writer of seven years, gives the following suggestions:

1. Choose Hours that suit you: This may sound obvious, but if you worked in an office prior to working from home, you may still have a 9 to 5 mindset. For those of us with children at school, the best hours may be 10am to 2pm. Depending on your line of work, making just slight adjustments to your schedule will still allow you to complete your work and achieve a healthy balance in your personal life.

2. Be Realistic: If you have toddlers at home with you during the day, be realistic as to how much you can achieve with constant interruptions. Plan ahead and create/buy age-appropriate activity kits, such as play dough, drawing kits, dressing up clothes, or educational DVDs to keep them occupied for bouts during the day. However, you will be far more productive if you can concentrate on your work uninterrupted, so try to find a registered childminder, babysitter, or nanny. Alternatively, try swapping child-minding days with a friend and delegate a couple of days when you can both benefit from some child-free time.

3. Pace yourself: When you do have uninterrupted time to yourself, dont be tempted to sit at your desk all day to slog through that To Do list. After a few hours work, treat yourself to a brisk walk around the block. The short break away from the computer screen will help to clear your head, not to mention a great way to stretch those muscles.

4. Be Firm: Are you trying to work from home, while at the same time acting as a full-time parent available to all and sundry? Make it clear to friends and family that certain days or times are for work. The less ambiguity there is with your work routine, the easier it will be for people to work around you. Being firm also means being prepared to say no. You cant put in a days work and be expected to run personal errands throughout the day.

5. Be Adaptable: There will be times when you will not be as productive as you would like. If Johnny falls ill and needs to be collected early from school, do you have a back-up plan for That Urgent Project? Having a handy-helper to call upon could mean the difference between harmony and complete chaos.

6. Be Professional: Run your home office like the real office – so no working in your pajamas! Set boundaries by closing your office door. Even if your office is just a section of your living room, set boundaries by creating an office desk where you keep your work. And dont allow your children to answer your business telephone. It portrays the wrong image to clients.

7. Take your work on the road: Working from home doesnt have to mean working in isolation. Why not try working in a local Work Hub. Work Hubs were designed with the modern mobile worker in mind and offer flexible workspaces with bookable hot desks, high speed broadband facilities and meeting spaces. You can work in a relaxed environment which encourages collaboration with other workers, but without the hard sell that can come with networking. Many Work Hubs also offer small business advice, so they are perfect for start-ups.

8. Network: Do take time off once in a while to network. The process of meeting new business associates, as well as acquiring and sounding out ideas will keep you feeling mentally invigorated.

9. Dont be a slave to your work routine. Your work/life balance doesnt suddenly become perfect once you work from home, but you can embrace it as a wonderful opportunity to have a more flexible work life balance.

copyright Mary Cummings, 2012.

Mary Cummings
Work Your Way

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