|Marsha Collier back in the early 90s © The Collier Company|
I've been at this "work from home" thing longer than most. Before I started my online career of writing books and speaking, I ran my own marketing agency for close to 15 years as a single mom. I converted my two-car garage into a dropped-ceiling office with extra electricity, computers, phones and desks.
Back in those days, it wasn't common at all for people to have “home offices.” You had to have an office in a building or storefront and if you weren’t in a proper office, very few would take your enterprise seriously.
One of our clients was the United States Air Force, we had a contract designing magazines (Flying Safety, Road and Rec and the TIG Brief). Before I began that year long project, they sent someone from the Inspector General’s office to check us out and be sure we were a “real” business — because certainly no one could run a business from a garage, right?
I ran my business then as I do now, showing up at my desk every morning (after I took my daughter to school) and locking the office at night. Just as I did when I worked in a corporate environment.
The business was incredibly successful due to the fact that I put every ounce of energy I had (outside of Mom duties) into it. I was successful enough to give it all up to start writing and speaking when offered the opportunity. I learned some hard lessons along the way. The key to success is developing positive work habits.
- Develop routines that work. Life, clients and family all have ways of grabbing your attention, pulling you off task. It may seem inevitable, but it’s not. Take steps to set a schedule. Involve your family too; be clear that the time you’re work hours need to be sacrosanct. By setting (at the very least) some loose schedules; you will feel more in control and laser focused.
- Organize your day the night before. Envision how your next work day will function. Lay it all out in your mind or in Evernote without overloading the “to-do” list. I keep a Notepad window on my desktop with notes from the night before and I add to it during the day. Set long range goals during quiet time; take action on them during business hours.
- Don’t let email run your life! Have set times in the day when you address your primary mail box. Use filters to segregate the fun stuff. The fun email can be dealt with at the end of the day on your tablet.
- Schedule your Social Media time and set controls for notifications. Your concentration won’t be worth spit if you keep hearing pings or getting random texts and calls. If you have a Google Voice number, forward your phones to that number and read the transcriptions of messages when you are ready. Return calls when its not crunch time.
- Find apps that save you time. Technology saves you time, so why not use apps? I mentioned Evernote above — great one! It helps me organize my thoughts whether I’m at my desk or in line at the market. Consider also Bufferapp to schedule social media posts for sharing and set up PayPal so you can take credit cards (their reports are second to none). Also, using Skype saves you time on quick calls.
- Outsource once you can afford it. The entire purpose of your business is to make enough money to keep you and your family comfortable. Expect to do a whole lot of unsexy chores. As soon as you can afford it, the best investment will be someone to do your bookkeeping.