Working from home is one of the things most of my friends envy about me. But they’ve never put themselves in my situation and don’t know the downside of it. Today I can say, I love it very much and I’m working hard everyday to maintain this little advantage. I’m Nicoletta, an Italian graphic designer and I have a startup that I manage from my home in south London. I started my company with my boyfriend, so in the beginning we were in two. Since we moved to London he started working in another company because ours can’t maintain both of us and I started working alone from home.
At the beginning I was a bit sad but very excited about the new experience. I got to manage my time as I preferred but after some weeks I started becoming a bit lazy. When I realized I wasn’t working at my best I decided to change my habits and find ways to push myself every day like bosses do with their employees.
Here is how I learned to keep myself on track:
Make medium term objectives
Having objectives is something extremely important for your business and your life because they help you stay focused and not get lost in everyday things. Having long term objectives are great as a reference and don’t need to have a deadline. However, medium term objectives need a time limit and it’s important for you to figure out what yours are because short and medium term objectives are the ones that will permit you to conquer the larger ones.
Some questions that may help you find yours:
- What would I like to change in my business? Change the photographs of the products, edit the marketing campaign, hire an employee, etc…
- What would I like to remove from my business? Stop creating some products that aren’t selling, close your blog, stop playing CandyCrush, etc….
- What would I like to add to my business? Start a blog, create a Pinterest account, create a new line a product, etc…
- What part of the business do I like the most? How can I increase the time I dedicate to it? For example if you enjoy making your products you’ll need to figure out a way to spend more time on making them and less on the other stuff you need to get done. Maybe you can attain this by hiring somebody or by using tools that can make your work faster and easier.
- What don’t I like? How can I stop doing it? What are the least favorite parts of your business? Can you delegate them or let them go?
Create your workspace
Maybe it seems very obvious to have a small workspace, but talking with other people that are working from home, I’ve learned that is not the case. When I started living here in London I was renting out a room in a big house with other people and back then it was very difficult to find a personal workplace for me. I don’t even know how I got through that period. That home had just a little table for two with eight tenants and no desk at all in my room. So when I finally moved into on my current apartment I quickly bought a desk with a chair at Ikea and designated it my ‘work table’. When I have breakfast in the morning, it is right there calling me to the work. It’s also my little corner, where I can stick things I like, listen to my favorite music and most of all work in peace.
I didn’t need lots of money, I must have spent less than $100 for a comfortable chair and a lovely desk. Afterwards I added some handmade things and recycled some boxes for pens and papers.
Track your work
Do you use some tracking tool? I’m a newbie myself, I started using one 2 months ago and I’m already feeling more productive and able to meet my deadlines.
I’m using it to list what I have to do, but also to track what I have done. In the past I sometimes got stuck and had the feeling that I wasn’t doing enough for my business. I felt like I was going nowhere. Now that I have a tracking tool I feel relieved and proud at seeing what I have accomplished.
The tool I’m using is made especially for bug tracking, it’s called BugHeard. I chose it because I needed a way to communicate the technical bugs I find during the day to Claudio since we’re not working together anymore. I have a project that I share with him and another one that is just for my work. There may be other tools that suit you better, Lifehacker made a great list of project management tools.
Talk about your work
How can you know if you’re doing a good job? Apart from the number of visitors or sales items, how can you know if your Twitter strategy is right or if your website has problems? I stumble upon many bad habits every day and I’m sure I have some too. The only way to change them is by connecting and talking with other fellow entrepreneurs out there.
Fortunately there are many communities that help connect entrepreneurs from all over the word. If you’re selling on Etsy, and even if you’re not but you are selling items somewhere, you can join an Etsy team. Oh My Handmade has a lovely community as well.
If you live in a big city, like London or New York, I suggest you connect with fellow entrepreneurs or bloggers by searching for them on Twitter or LinkedIn. They’re usually very happy to chat with a person with similar work and it’s the perfect way to ask for feedback and make new friends.
Take a walk from time to time
This point is simple but also quite important. From time to time it’s vital to take a walk outside or do some sports. I noticed that the more I stay at home, the more difficult it is to get out. A good habit I’m adopting is going to my pilates class early in the morning, get home in time to say goodbye to Claudio and then be ready to start my work day by 9am, It gives me more energy and determination to get things done.
Working from home is not for everybody, it takes a lot of determination and a strong routine in order to not be distracted. I hope you will find at least one of my tips helpful. Have you got some tips of your own? I’d love to know about them. Share your tips and questions by leaving a comment!
Nicoletta Donadio | founder of Fanchimp
I’m an Italian girl living in London and passionate about baking and crafts. I run Fanchimp, a company that helps small and medium business to manage their social media. I designed the service and I’m in charge of the customer support. Drop me a message at @fanchimp.
Great tips! I think it’s important to “turn off” from time to time… for me, this means taking a computer-free (and phone-free) at least once a week. I avoid business social media on the weekends (which might not be the best business plan) so that I can turn off that part of the brain and actually find things exciting or refreshing without constantly looking for the next Instagram opportunity.
I agree that having a community to bounce ideas off of is a great asset. There’s lots of support, brainstorming opportunities and biz-improving tasks to be found in the forums.
Hi Marisa, thanks for adding your tip as well. For me it’s very difficult to take computer-free days but now with the summer season I think it will be easier.
The community is something that helps you not to feel alone and your business because you find interesting people that gives you tips and help.
I have to say – being accountable elsewhere – whether it’s a client deadline or an acountabilibuddy like we have available here in the OMHG forums seems really helpful to me. I almost hate to admit it, because if I wanted external pressure, I think, why don’t I just get a J-O-B? The difference is, that I choose these external nudges, so they are more meaningful. Making meaning is the whole reason many of us are in business for ourselves, anyway!
My husband (who has a start-up) has recently said NO to weekend work for himself has made it so much easier for me to focus on family weekends as well. When there’s a group effort, the time off can feel liberating rather than filled with “I should be doing X.”
Thanks for the tips – I know I will try each and every one of them out, and the walk is happening today!
Thanks Karen for sharing with us your experience! 😉
i agree with marisa you have to switch off just like any business but i disagree with giving your self a break from social media.You need to be consistent and post everyday i not only generates free organic traffic,but most of all it keeps you content current proud owner of http://www.workfromhomewhenever.com
You’re right George, be consistent with Social Media Marketing is very important. Have a nice day!
I happen to check out FanChimp and you guys have to try it….not only it is crazy useful but it’s super pretty and as a creative sometimes that is just as important. 😉
Hi MoxiePear, I’m happy to hear you liked Fanchimp and that you loved my graphic 😉
If you have any feedback about the service or you have questions, please let me know.
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