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Working at Home

Oh the glory of ignoring the alarm clock, getting the kids off to school, and sitting down in front of your computer at 9:30 in your pajamas!

Or not.

Working at home is rewarding, but it’s not always glorious. Staying on task has to come from you instead of a boss, and you can never leave the office. Ever. If you wake up late, it’s probably because you went to sleep somewhere around 4:00 am. The working-from-home life is wonderful, though, and here’s how to keep your sanity when everything seems to be falling down around you.

First of all, there is a great reason to work from home—you have a passion, an idea, something scalable that you want to put your heart and soul into. That’s fantastic, and that’s exactly why you should have your own business. That passion may be pure independence, and there are companies like MonaVie that give you the opportunity to just do things your way. That’s worth it, too.

We say that we are our own worst critic; it could also be said that we are our own worst boss. You know things have to get done, you berate yourself for falling behind, and your wife still blames your boss (that’s you) for working late. There is a way to make it work when you work at home, and it starts with discipline:

#1: Set a Schedule

It doesn’t have to be 8:00 – 5:00. It doesn’t even have to be in one chunk. You may have to work 12 (or more) hours a day instead of 8 at the beginning to get clients set up and business flowing. Work out what is best for you and your family to get your work done and give them some attention every day.

Setting a schedule not only helps you know when you should be working, but it helps you know when to put the computer away. Sometimes you’ll have to work through the breaks just like when you were back at the office; but you need to take a break as much as anyone, so don’t push it too hard for too long.

#2: Keep Your Schedule

Susan needs to go to the orthodontist, Charlie has a school play, and Rex wants to play after he gets back from kindergarten. But you, my friend, have work to do. If you need to make time in your schedule for these things, then that’s wonderful—part of the glory of getting out of the office is being free to set your own schedule. But you are not free to not have a schedule.

#3: Get an Office Space

Whether it’s at the park, in your basement, at a desk in the bedroom, or wherever, have a designated “work zone” so that when everyone knows you are there, you are working. It helps you stay focused and get your work done.

Not everyone’s stay-at-home business can handle an “office.” If you have to travel, then maybe your office mostly resides in a briefcase or backpack—but when you come back, you’ll need a place. Trust me.

#4: Set Objectives

Read up on SWOT analyses and writing objectives. Get down into the nitty-gritty, so to speak. Determine what you want to accomplish, and write out the very specific steps to accomplishing those goals. Even the most dedicated of us need reminders. Sometimes our plates get so full with all the things that need to get accomplished that we forget what is core.

I recommend taping those objectives to the wall around your workspace. Look at them often. You will spend much less time spinning your wheels in all the paperwork and whatever else if you have objectives that you have set to accomplish.

#5: Accomplish Your Objectives

You cannot give yourself any excuses for not accomplishing your objectives. If you are coming up on a deadline, this will help you know when you need to work overtime to finish. If you don’t accomplish an objective, that is a very big deal—no one else will do them for you, and your business and livelihood will live or die by your ability to make progress.

Remember these five rules. It could take a year of intense work to get your business going. It could take five years. But the beauty is that it is yours. Working from home does not imply “not working,” but it does give you freedom: freedom to do what you love because you love it. Working from home may be harder than working at an office, but if you stick to what you love, then it’s worth it.