It’s been awhile since my last blog post…
…and let me tell you- I miss my blog! But there’s a reason I’ve been a bit silent in the past couple months. (Hint: It has something to do with starting my own business and working from home full time!)
I said “Sayonara!” to my 9-5 (in reality, it was a 7-5:30) and kissed the office life good-bye! It’s been a crazy first month of self-employment and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some things I have learned in my first month of freelancing with you.
In fact, I am writing this blog post as I sit in the airport, awaiting my flight to Milwaukee, WI to spend the week with my sister and niece. And the best part- I can now work from anywhere and my business won’t be affected just because I am traveling. What is this sweet, sweet freedom?
Well, this new found freedom has had it’s quirks and challenges. As I am learning how to be my own boss (and yes, there IS a learning curve to this!), here are some things about working from home that nobody tells you…
1. Complete Isolation
Okay. That may be a bit dramatic. But seriously, when you work at home, you find any excuse to get your ass out of the house. I will pack up my computer and notes and head into a Starbucks for a few hours just for some human interaction. The simple act of small talk while my coffee order is being made makes me feel human again. No one told me how lonely working from home can be, so near-daily trips to a coffee shop is a welcome change of pace in my daily routine now.
2. Sticking to a schedule is hopeless
This might not be true for everyone who is working from home, but for me it is. Maybe it’ll get better as I continue to adjust to this new lifestyle, but currently- it’s a problem. I am realizing just how much structure waking up, going to work for a set amount of hours, and going home and being done with work for the day, created. Now, I set my own schedule, which look something like this:
Wake up (later than I meant to because, freedom- right?
Check my email (I have multiple), reply to any texts that I got earlier that morning from my clients
Finally get up and get coffee so that I can human and get ready for the day
Clean the house a little
Grab my laptop and head to a coffee shop to work for a couple hours
Come home and work some more
Oh look, squirrel!
Snuggle my dog
Reply to more emails
…you get the picture. I have no structure to my day. (It’s a goal I am working on)
3. Admin tasks take the back road
Okay, now that I focus on my business full time, I realize that I spend the majority of it on client work. This is not necessarily a bad thing one might think, but it is. I am so focused on providing amazing value to my clients that I am scared to spend the same kind of time and focus on the back end of my business. I.e., bookkeeping tasks, scheduling my social media content, and even creating content in general.
Essentially, I need to carve out time in my schedule now, whether that is daily, weekly or monthly, to focus ONLY on my business. Maintaining my website, creating blog content, marketing myself, gathering my bookkeeping details, etc.
Here’s the thing about running your own business or working from home in general- there is no one to tell you what and when to do things. It’s on you to manage your time efficiently and to manage your business just as well as you manage your client’s (or boss’, or co-workers…) tasks.
4. You absolutely NEED your own work space.
Whether you have children, pets, both, or you live alone- you NEED a place that is your own office. Having a space in your home to focus only on work is a saving grace for me. I don’t have kids, but I have pets and those assholes know exactly when I need to get some work done, and decide that that’s also the exact moment when they need all of the attention.
I actually took my “office” (read: useless room gathering random crap and not actually providing any real use) and completely made it my own. I bought a big, better desk. I bought plants (even though I am terrible at keeping plants alive but hey, I’ll keep trying). I even painted the room to make it different than the other spaces in my house. Basically, I made it into a place that when I come in and sit down at my desk, I feel motivated, focused and ready to get shit done.
*Side thought: Maybe I will do an “office tour” post soon to show you guys how I created my home office. That could be super fun!
5. You have to learn to take your work hours seriously.
When you work from home, some people automatically assume that that means you have all the free time in the world. To a lot of people, when you tell them you work from home they hear “I have a super flexible schedule and can drop what I am doing at any point to do whatever I want”.
So, it can be really easy to slip into the habit of accepting lunch invites on a Tuesday and moving around your tasks that you have to finish that day in order to do so. It means always being the one that your neighbors go to when they need you to take their dog out while they go out of town for a night. It means people are constantly asking you for favors because you aren’t at work all day. And for a lot of us, it means having the expectation of taking on extra household duties because you are at home all of the time.
The truth is that you have to respect your schedule before anyone else will. Respect your time. Remember that your time is VALUE. Time is money, people. And while being flexible IS a perk of working from home at times, it is not an expectation.
Set work hours. Follow that schedule. Of course, feel free to break away from it once in a while (for good reasons) but do NOT make it a habit to do so. This is so important in order to find that work/life balance that so many of us never uncover. And when you do, it is because you know the value of your time and you know the importance of maintaining a proper work schedule and how it benefits both your business and your personal life.
There you have it, folks. The top 5 realizations that I have had in my first couple months of working from home. And as a little bonus for you, feel free to snag my free Work-From-Home Weekly Schedule to make sure that you are making the best use of your days while you grow your career and make those dolla dolla bills, ya’ll!