I know, I know. Working from home sounds like an absolute dream – you get to skip morning and evening traffic, you get to work in your pyjamas, you even get to take a nap midday when your mind just shuts off without your consent. It sounds like the perfect way to get through your day.
Before you start planning your extra yoga classes and day trips to the shopping centres unhindered by time constraints, consider for a minute that working from home in many ways is much easier but it’s also much harder than you ever imagined.
I don’t want to scare you into keeping your day job, but I do want to bring your attention to what you absolutely must do in order to stay sane: keep working productively and build that empire that I know you’ve been dreaming about for years.
A good idea alone is not enough
Setting up your new business and watching your entrepreneurial skills being planted in rich, fertile soil is definitely the most fun. But simply planting ideas won’t help your tree to grow and if you’re aiming for the entire orchard, you’d better find some fertilizer for those trees. Roughly translated, the most difficult part of all is the daily consistency of running a business.
It’s in the small things that an entrepreneur can become successful, and it’s almost always the small things entrepreneurs aren’t prepared for. Admin can suck the life out of you when all you want to do is produce, manufacture, create … work.
1. Apps, lists, whatever tickles your big toe will work
Some of us are list makers, some of us can’t live without our tablets. There are a thousand and one creative ways to make use of your time-management skills.
My suggestion to you is to figure out the most productive use of your time and stick to it daily. Being at home poses an entire cabinet of delectable temptations: that extra cup of tea; quickly Facebooking an old work colleague; taking 30 minutes extra on your morning walk – because no-one is there to tell you why you should walk faster and be on time for work.
One of my favourite apps to work with is Acuity. Their slogan: “Schedule clients without sacrificing your soul.” I’ve used it to collaborate with a number of clients and organize my workflow. This time-saving app has saved my sanity many times over.
While prioritizing work is a great start, remember that once you start working from home, you no longer have the luxury of leaving work at work and home at home. Set times and boundaries that are strictly for work and concentrate on that, leaving everything else until your set time has passed. Try your best to draw a clear line between home and work and be productive in both separately.
2. A good working station will be your lifesaver
You won’t be getting the traditional benefits package when you work from home. However, the benefits far outshine the kind you’d get as part of the job in a work environment.
Make sure that you have a comfortable space just for work. One that allows enough room for you to work freely. You might not need a desk perse, but you will need a dedicated spot to sit and start working. Using the breakfast nook once or twice is ok but before you know it you’ll need storage space, and a comfortable chair.
3. Automation – need I say more?
Automating some of your workflows wherever possible is a must. It will save you time as well as money down the line. Automation may seem like a difficult and expensive process, but thankfully, there is a ton of useful software that helps you do just that.
Some automation does take a short while to master, but once you have the hang of it, you’ll be able to enjoy a lot more free time.
Start off with these simple, but effective automated processes:
• Out of office email replies – a short note with the basics will ensure that clients who email will have received communication from you without ever having to check your inbox.
• Automated blog posts – Have a mountain of inspiration? Write and format all your blog posts for the month ahead (assuming you post once or twice a week) and future-date them for when they should post. All you’ll have to do later is…well, nothing.
• Automated marketing and emails – Take a day to compile your emails and be sure to double check them. For those of you who are just getting started with marketing automation – take a look at Mautic’s comprehensive services – all completely free. As I said before – it takes a bit of time to figure it out, but it’s worth every second in the long run.
There you have it, the tools to focus on your work without ever compromising client relationships. Go for it and have fun.