Working from home provides the ultimate experience of freedom in many ways, but at the same time it can easily allow a freedom we take for granted - a freedom that if not appreciated, can actually sabotage our success.
In the corporate world we have structures, deadlines, rules and bosses to keep things in order and on track. These are often the elements entrepreneurs want to escape from when they start a home-based business.
Although these fundamentals have their place in the corporate world and can be viewed by entrepreneurial spirits as restrictive, provoking and unnecessary – they play a significant role in assuring a successful home business environment as well.
As a government employee for 12 years, I often felt smothered and restricted by the regimental practices that guided daily work life. When I left my position to run my home-based business it felt as though 200 pounds had been lifted from my shoulders.
I was finally free to do what I loved, how I chose, when I chose.
Structure and good time management have always been a part of my personal repertoire, but were put to the ultimate test when I started working from home full-time.
When I was an employee, I spent my evenings and weekends pursuing accreditation in Life Strategy and Business Coaching, and building my business. There was no room for distraction or activities that would take me away from my dream.
Structure was rigid and discipline was strong.
Once my formal education was complete and I was financially secure enough to leave my government position, it seemed only natural that maintaining the same level of structure and discipline would continue.
This was not the case.
It didn't take long for more relaxed, carefree thinking to dominate my actions and behaviors. I would schedule personal appointments in the middle of the day that would interrupt my work for extended periods of time
I'd accept invitations to impromptu lunch and shopping dates. I assured myself I'd make up the time by working in the evening, but by then my energy levels were often in low supply and I was ineffective.
I would leave my office door open and allow household distractions into my workspace. When my personal phone line would ring, I'd pick it up only to be sidetracked by a telemarketer. I also chose to present my family with home-cooked dinners every night, which took hours away from my business.
In only a matter of weeks, I could see the impact lack of formal structure was having on my business. I was lured by life's daily distractions and it was becoming apparent in my productivity levels and my business' bottom line.
I had allowed my focus to blur, my energy to wane, and business to take a back seat. I didn't feel productive. I would scramble to meet deadlines for article submissions and was fully aware of the long-term result I would create if I continued this way.
It was amazing to discover how easy it was for me, someone who has always been so structured and organized, to fall into complacency so quickly once the responsibility fell entirely on my shoulders.
In order to stop the defeating behavior and break the carefree cycle, I re-instituted rules and processes immediately. I returned to flow and became productive again.
I survived the bump and thankfully with little setback.
I'm all too aware how easy it is to let daily life blend with home business life and that's actually a part of the attraction of becoming a home-based business owner.
The important thing to remember is there is an immense need for structure, routine and processes; otherwise you may easily become caught up in the demands of daily living without realizing it until it's too late.
Here are 5 simple steps to get started:
1. Keep your workspace door closed at all times, or even better, completely separate from the family living space.
2. Designate specific hours of operation and make sure your friends and family understand that you are not to be disturbed during these times.
3. Silence the ringer of your private phone line in your office or workspace, or better yet, don't have a personal line in this area at all. Let your machine collect your calls and return them at a time that suits you.
4. If you need to make personal appointments, schedule them for the same day instead of intermittently throughout the week. This will allow for several days of uninterrupted business operation.
5. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Maybe you don't have to get up at 6 a.m. any more for your one-hour commute, but it's still important to go to bed at a reasonable time to ensure sufficient sleep. Irregular sleep patterns will have a negative effect on your productivity, creativity and enthusiasm.
Remember that running a home-based business is no different than running any other type of business. Structure is necessary. Discipline is compulsory - and processes are required.
Keep these important elements in mind. Incorporate them into your daily business activities and your home and business life will reap the rewards.
2006 © Laurie Hayes - The HBB Source