After working from home for a little over 5 years now, I've finally gotten the hang of some sort of routine. It's not easy, but you can do it. And because I messed up a lot, I'm here to tell you what I've learned to do and what not to do, whether you have a family at home or not.
1. Have a Plan:
You should always have a business plan, otherwise you're going to be all over the place. Having a plan will allow you to have some consistency in your work life and daily routine. In the beginning, I just knew I wanted to design for others. I didn't have a nitch, target market, specialty services, limitation on orders, etc. This caused me to burn out quickly and not really work with the "dream clients" that I wanted.
After having Leah, I realized I had to change things. I specifically changed my design services to graphic design for female entrepreneurs and celebrations. I'm a mom, a woman, I plan parties for my kids and girlfriends, and I started my own business. It made more since to make women, moms, and female entrepreneurs, my target market. Because I identify with them better than anyone else, I know more of their wants, likes, and needs.
Occasionally, I'll do business with men, if I have the time, but I don't market to them. I consider these side jobs and I don't put their projects in my portfolio, especially if the project does not compliment my brands image. I also don't want to throw off my target market.
2. Create a Work Area:
You have to have a work area that inspires you and will keep you motivated. I know these days we all have laptops, so it's easy for us to do work on the couch or from the bed. Trust me, that can quickly get old. Get you a desk, some space, and organize it. This will make you feel good about "going to work" and keep you away from certain distractions, such as TV.
3. Make A Schedule:
Sure, you work from home. You can do what you want when you want... but um you might want to schedule yourself. Wake up in the morning and get dressed (come on at least sometimes) like you're going to work! Turning off that alarm and telling yourself you have all day to do something can really set you back. I wake up around 7am and my booty is in my chair by 9am. If I decide to sleep longer or chill, I end up either not finishing stuff, having to stay up all night, tell the hubby date night is off because I decided to be a lazy bum. Or... I can't hang with the girls on the weekend because again, I decided to be a bum and didn't finish someones project who already paid me. So, set some work hours. I set mine from 9am - 5pm on weekdays, meaning no computer or work after 5pm because it's now time for family.
4. Set Realistic Goals:
Don't try to be superwoman! You don't have to complete everything in one day. Before I go to bed, I list 3 main things that need to be done the next day. This keeps my mind from wandering at night and I'm able to get some sleep. When you wake up, ready to work, you don't feel overwhelmed because you already know what needs to be done. If it's a big project or big goal on your list, set a deadline. Turn it into small goals that you can accomplish everyday and work up to that deadline you have set.
5. Say No to Distractions:
So, like.... stalking people on facebook is not work, neither is talking to your bestfriend about her date the night before. I've said this before in other post, I get calls on the daily because people know I'm home. Sometimes, I just have to ignore their calls and call them later. As for TV, the only time I may watch it is during my lunch break, or if I need a little time away from my desk because I'm having a creative block.
6. Get Out The House:
Sitting at a desk or inside everyday can get boring! Have a little fun in your day. Do some work at a coffee shop. This might even allow you some time to meet other people and network. Or... just step out and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Take a walk or go grab some Starbucks (MY FAVORITE THING TO DO).
You'd be amazed at what you can do just by doing some of these things on my list. If you work from home, I'd love to know what helps you better your day to be more productive.