I’ve been a freelance writer for 23 years – off and on. In the ‘off’ times I’ve worked in advertising agencies, web companies, universities, and non-profits. In the ‘on’ times, I’ve done writing for these same clients, and others, from home. I activate the ‘on/off’ switch according to market demand, financial need, and my acetone levels. (When I get really lonesome or stressed from working alone, I paint my nails.)
However you come to it, running your business from home presents a new set of challenges. If you’ve already ditched your day job and are toiling away in a spare bedroom (in my case) or your closet (before my bedroom), these tips might help. If you’re working from an honest-to-goodness home office, please send me some tips.
So, top 5:
- Create your own ‘untouchable’ space, even if it isn’t in a room of your own. If your room has a couch or a bed in it, know that your husband, partner, child, dog, mother-in-law will perch there in wait, wistfully watching. That’s all right, they can watch. But they can’t ask you why you do this to yourself or where you get your ideas. Especially the dog. That would just be weird.
- Keep your workspace clean and organized. Spartan, even. I don’t even have a houseplant in mine because when I have to stare into that blank screen (or screen blanker, which, in my case, is a backdrop of the universe–talk about overwhelming) I can spend a whole day Googling possible pest infestations and the effects of overwatering. Which is even more time-consuming than contemplating the universe. Although I do that, too. On bad days.
- Lay out your day’s work the night before. Have your files on your desk or desktop. Know what project you’re going to start. Making that decision the night before means you don’t have to discipline yourself in the morning, or waste time warming up by Googling possible pest infestations.
- Turn on autopilot. Brush your teeth, shower, whatever your morning routine when you worked at the office (you can skip the makeup, although it does help to get out of your pjs or sweats–sometimes). Make your coffee or tea, grab a light snack and go straight to your desk. You can have a real breakfast later. But if you get entangled in the kitchen, you’ll have a hard time hacking yourself out.
- Take advantage of those early morning hours when you’re most creative and productive. Everything else can wait. Even the dog. Well, maybe not the dog. If you can get in a solid 4 hours, you’ll accomplish as much as you did in a full day at the office. And then you can decide if want to work more. Or not. Depending on the weather. And your acetone levels.