Ahh... the entrepreneur's life... Many imagine that working from home is like being a Hollywood superstar: working leisurely in your pajamas, eating bon bons, and cashing paychecks you write to yourself. While managing your own business can be a life long dream, your business can also take over your life if you let it. Here are some tips for how to overcome the biggest challenges of working from home.
== ARE YOU A WORKAHOLIC? ==
When you work from home it can be hard to STOP working. Temptations such as the ringing of your business phone, the constant flow of emails, and piles of paper work can easily draw you back into work mode if you let them.
TIPS TO CONQUER WORK-A-HOLISM
a) Set a regular schedule for work and home hours. Make a deliberate effort to stop working on time. When you are done with work, shut off the computer, and mentally shut off work.
b) Locate your office in a separate area of the house. Having your office out of sight may help you forget about work.
c) Enjoy your "off" time. Pamper yourself! Schedule yourself regular vacations! Take time to relax! Spend time doing the things you love most. If you started working from home to spend more time with your family, then make sure you are actually DOING that. Schedule daytrips with your kids. Take time to visit a friend you have lost touch with.
== ARE YOU EASILY DISTRACTED? ==
Does the sound of Nickelodeon, the allure of the cookies in the pantry, and the beautiful sunny weather distract you?
TIPS TO HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED:
a) Don't tolerate distractions in your life. Discover sources of the distraction and remove it from your work environment. If you can't remove it entirely, try to come up with a creative "work-a- round" that will let you function.
b) Make a daily to do list and prioritize, by placing the most important 3-5 tasks at the top. Put all other "tasks" at bottom. Try to spend your time on items which on the things which will do the most to move your business forward.
== DO YOU FEEL LONELY? ==
Do you miss birthday lunch celebrations, water cooler talk, and co-worker friendships? Are you becoming a bear in your "work at home cave"?
TIPS TO AVOID ISOLATION:
a) Volunteer. Sign up to help with a Girl Scout troop, at church, or at the local library.
b) Join a group. There are lots of local women's business breakfast groups. You might also be able to find a local playgroup, or church group to join.
c) Take a class. This is the perfect opportunity to learn a new business skill or indulge in a personal interest such as pottery, art, or scrapbooking.
d) Spend time with friends and family. Have lunch, call an old friend, make a date with your spouse, or send a personal email to a family member. Make time to connect with the important people in your life.
e) Build a personal support network. Whether it is a business coach, or fellow entrepreneur you'll need someone to encourage you, listen to you, and guide you. Find a mentor who is highly successful at what you want to do and ask what their secrets are for success!
d) Participate in an online community. There are many online communities for entrepreneurs and work at home parents. Here you can network, meet friends, and promote your business.
== DO YOU NEED HEALTH INSURANCE? ==
Insurance is a regular perk of working in the corporate world. When you go "solo" you will find yourself without the crucial coverage you need.
TIPS FOR GETTING INSURED:
a) If your spouse has a corporate job, check to see if you can be covered under their insurance plan.
b) With the costs of family insurance coverage ranging from $7000 to $10,000 per year, it really pays to shop around.
c) If you recently quit your corporate job, the COBRA law will let you purchase health insurance from your old corporate employer for up to 18 months.
== DO YOU MISS REGULAR PAYCHECKS? ==
Do you have trouble making regular paychecks to yourself?
TIPS FOR REGULATING YOUR INCOME:
a) Build reserves. When you have a good month, stash it away for those slow business periods. Stock up by working more during winter, so that you can take time off in the summer.
b) Develop an "automatic" income source. Some options include writing and selling an ebook and acting as a reseller for services that complement your offerings.
== DO FAMILY & FRIENDS VIOLATE YOUR BOUNDARIES? ==
Do your friends, family call you during your work time? Do your clients call during your family time?
TIPS FOR SETTING BOUNDARIES:
a) Communicate with your clients early on letting them know your policies, your work hours, and what they can expect.
b) Let family know what your work hours are. Ask them not to call you with personal chit chat until your "home" hours begin.
c) Caller ID can help you identify calls to see if they are from family, friends, or pesky sales people.
The bottom line is to determine your boundaries, set them in stone, communicate them, and guard and uphold them!
== SUMMARY ==
While working from home is the new American Dream, it can present some real challenges at times. Smart business owners work hard to maintaining balance, practice extreme self-care, and regulate their income. By overcoming these obstacles you'll experience renewed energy, focus, and stability in both your personal and business life.