Working from home sounds like a dream come true but unless you take the time to organize things properly, the whole experience can turn into a nightmare. Here are eight things you will need to pay attention to if you choose to work from home.
One of the first priorities will be to either develop a specific area of your home as a workspace, or convert a spare, unused room into an office. Along with actually providing you with a place to do your work, this will also help to reinforce to other members of the household that you cannot be disturbed when you are in your office, and will help separate your domestic life from your professional life.
Make sure you have a phone line that is solely devoted to your work; by doing this you will ensure that you will only be answering calls about your work when this phone rings rather than taking messages from your kids’ friends and dealing with other time consuming and distracting non-business calls.
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If you work from home you will have to become your own bookkeeper and accountant. Keep all your work expense receipts; remember that legitimate work costs can be set against tax. Some places also allow you to offset utility bills and other costs associated with running the home office, so have a chat with your local tax office to discover what qualify as valid working expenses.
One of the most positive aspects of working from home is that you can manage your own time on your own terms. This means that your family will have to appreciate that working from home does not mean a 24-hour kid’s chauffeuring service or carrying out an abundance of household tasks that you wouldn’t be able to do if you were working in a company office. Plan out every week with the family, and draw up a timetable for non-work activities. The more professional you are with your loved ones, the greater the chances are that you will be able to fulfil both your domestic and professional commitments.
Running a business from home doesn’t mean that taking holidays isn’t important. If anything freelancers tend to work so hard that many of them forget that their brains and bodies may well benefit from a holiday. A commissioning company should respect any holiday dates that you give them in advance, and you will return to the fray refreshed and ready to perform once you have had the opportunity to recharge your batteries.
Eating and drinking
When working from home it is all too easy to forget the importance of taking regular meals and snacks. Try not to eat at your computer, and for the sake of your health and safety you should take a least a ten minute break from your computer screen every hour.
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Many people who run a business from the home find that the early morning is a haven of blessed peace before the hustle and bustle of daily life kicks in. If you are indeed a morning person, use this time to make a list prioritizing your tasks for the day. Alternatively you might be a night bird and find the quiet of the late night is your best working time. Make sure your family is aware when you will be working so that they will not disturb you.
Sometimes working in a home environment can be a little isolating, and so it is a good idea to schedule some regular quality time with friends or the rest of the family. If possible, find other freelancers in the neighbourhood and arrange to meet up with them socially; this can also be an excellent way of hearing about more work.
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