Work from home - A survival manual for your home office
Earning money from the comfort of your home is possible if you manage to keep your home office under control. Above all, time management and self-management play an important role.
As a freelance translator and copywriter I belong to those blessed people who can work in their own home. Many dream of earning their living from the comfort of home: flexible working hours, no daily commute to work, no cantankerous co-workers ... I could probably continue endlessly listing the advantages of working from home.
But what initially feels like heaven on earth, without a great deal of discipline and self-management can quickly turn into a nightmare. Therefore, I'd like to provide a few helpful guidelines to all those who are thinking of earning a living working from home.
The myth of flexible working hours
The idea to be able to schedule your working time yourself not only sounds tempting, it absolutely is. Finally, I can liberally choose when I do what! I am free! But you have to always keep in mind, that if you work little or not at all, you will also earn little or ... nothing at all. Great freedom invites many people to extreme dawdling: a quick look at the morning news, watering flowers, reading newspapers, playing with the cat, clearing the breakfast table, etc.
One often forgets that even unpleasant work needs to be done - without anyone telling you to do so. Of course it would be great if you could pick out only the raisins from the work cake, but bills must be written, calls made and difficult customers served.
Set fixed working hours. In these hours you will be ... yes, working! This includes only those tasks that are related to your professional activity. Housework, shopping or chatting on the internet are not among them! I personally deal with unpleasant tasks first thing in the morning, and then my day can indeed only get better.
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An office at home or at home in the office?
Once you decide to set up a home office, you should have a clear idea of where exactly your working space will be. Do you have spare room for it? That would evidently be the ideal case. Or maybe your desk will be standing somewhere in the living room? Or will your living room table be your desk?
Out of sight out of mind, they say. If in the evening you’ll sit in front of the TV and the computer in the corner constantly reminds you of what still needs to be done, then it will be almost impossible to enjoy your time off and relax.
A home office needs a certain amount of space. Would you really like to clean up everything or shove it aside when it’s time to put the dinner on the table? Order is half the battle - that also goes for your home office.
My advice: If you do not have a spare room you can transform into a home office, at least set up a detached working area. This should, if possible, be physically, but at least visually separated from the rest of the room. It will be your personal working area, where you can carry out your job undisturbed.
The Pyjama Drama
Work from home - a dream comes true! Finally, you don’t need to dress up for the office anymore, you must not shave or put on make-up, suddenly so many time-consuming things become entirely superfluous! However, be very careful - suddenly you'll be sitting in your pyjamas in front of the computer and wonder where that disgusting smell is coming from. And then you realize - "Hey, it's me! When did I last time shower?”
My advice: Although it is so very tempting to just grab a cup of coffee and shuffle out of bed directly to your computer - don't even start this habit! Stick to the BDB-principle: Bathroom, dressing, breakfast before you turn your computer on.
Friends and Family
... just a quick coffee ...
So, your home office is set up, the working hours are fixed; you sit at your desk showered and dressed – now let's go and make some money! And then the doorbell rings … girlfriend (desperate housewife) / neighbour (retired) / mother (well, Mom) / brother (unemployed) / former colleague (pregnant), etc. is at the door: "I was just in the neighbourhood and thought I'd drop by for a quick coffee. I haven't seen you in ages, since you are sitting around at home all day! "And voila, the whole working morning is down the drain.
Once word gets around that you work from home, you become a safe haven for people who want to kill a few hours time. These people must simply stick to your working hours and have the perfect excuse of a courtesy call to get rid of all their worries and problems ... and they even get free coffee!
My advice: Unfortunately, only very clear and explicit words will help: "I cannot talk to you now, I have to work." These words must be said before the visitor passes the threshold. Sounds hard, is tough, but there's no way around it! I speak from experience. If you actually like the visitor, simply suggest an alternative date for some coffee and gossip - in your spare time! Good friends will understand.