Working from home can present a whole host of problems for the person accustomed to being in a strictly regulated office environment. But if you’ve decided to move your career to your home office in order to save money on childcare or simply be present as your children grow, you’re going to have to overcome the many challenges that come with running a home-based business (and splitting your time between your professional and personal pursuits). Without a boss hovering over your shoulder or a set schedule to start and finish work, you might have some trouble getting in gear, but you’re not the only parent who works from home. Many do so successfully and you can, too. Here are just a few common traits of effective work at home parents that you’ll definitely want to emulate.
1. Motivated. One of the hardest things for most people to cope with when they work from home is finding the motivation that is generally supplied by a supervisor breathing down your neck. Without an authority figure present to push you, it’s all too easy to get distracted by kids, pets, and a pile of dishes. But if you simply stick to your old routine of rising with the alarm, getting showered and dressed for the day, and gulping down breakfast (well, maybe take your time here), you may be able to get some quality work time in early so you can spend the afternoon playing with the kids.
2. Flexible. Unfortunately, kids are not always keen to give you the peace and quiet you need to finish a bid or wrap up a project. Sometimes they’re sick, sometimes they’re messy, and sometimes they just need your attention. For this reason, you have got to be flexible. Your schedule should be more like a guideline than a strict set of rules, so always have a backup plan in case things go awry (because they will…frequently).
3. Calm. It simply doesn’t do to fly off the handle when things don’t go your way. Yes, it can be frustrating to juggle the demands of work, family, and your home all at once, but keep in mind that you have it a lot better than most people. You are blessed to be able to watch your kids grow up and still bring in the second income needed to support your family. So when the children misbehave or you seem to be hitting every conceivable roadblock with your work, just take a deep breath and remember why you’re doing it.
4. Determined. There will be plenty of times when you want to throw in the towel and head back to the office you left, where all you had to do was show up on time and attend to your assignments. But if you remember back, you probably weren’t that happy being cooped up in a cubicle all day while your kids sat with strangers (a service that your paycheck barely covered). A strong sense of determination is essential for success when you work at home, so even if you’re fed up, try to keep the positives in mind.
5. Organized. You absolutely cannot work from home if you’re not organized. You don’t necessarily need to place fixed asset labels on your office equipment to ensure that it doesn’t wind up in other rooms around the house, but having a separation of work and living space is a good idea (otherwise you might feel like you’re always at the office). And make sure to keep detailed and organized files (in a cabinet) so that you’re always on top of projects and you ensure that clients are satisfied. A clean and clutter-free office and home will only make your myriad jobs easier to handle.