The stories of starting a business from your kitchen table or spare room or garage are legendary. And for good reason - a home office is the easiest and cheapest place for moms to launch their business.
On the plus side there's no commute, no dress code, no cubicles or office politics -- on the con side is the lack of social interactions and the distractions provided by household chores, TV, and friends and family who "drop in" to visit you. But cons aside, the Small Business Administration statistics show that about 52% of all small businesses are still home-based.
Here' s some ideas on how to make it work for you: For More Workers, Home Is Where the Office Is
Editor, Moms in Business
Do you have a home office that is something special?
BusinessWeek Online is looking for photo essays of readers' cool home-based offices. You can read more about it here at the Escape from Cubicle Nation blog
Personally I covet Kathy Sierra's home office, an Airstream trailer in her backyard. Now that's cool!
Moms in Business
by Audrey Okaneko
When you look around your office or your work space what do you see? I believe there are certain “tools” that are a must for any work space:
1. A clock or a watch. I believe it’s very important to know how long you are investing in each task. If you’re writing an article, how long have you been writing that article? If you are placing ads, how long have you been sitting at your computer placing those ads? Perhaps you are speaking with folks on Instant Messenger. It’s amazing how much time can fly by when you are chatting with others. Having a clock or a watch lets you be accountable for your time.
2. Your calendar. I still keep my calendar offline. Many folks keep their calendars online. Either way, a calendar is a must. With your clock or watch, your calendar will help keep you on schedule. I write in both personal and business commitments. I don’t want to tell someone I’ll call them at 2 p.m. tomorrow if I have to be at my daughter’s school at 2:15 p.m. tomorrow.
3. Paper and pen. I believe you should have paper and pen everywhere. You should have paper and pen by your desk, by your bed, in your vehicle and for women that carry a purse, you should have paper and pen in your purse. Ideas come to us at all times, day and night. When we get ideas, we need to be able to jot down our thoughts, so that we can act on them later.
4. Your goal sheet. In order to know what needs to be accomplished today, you’ll need your goal sheet. Goal sheets can be detailed or they can be a simple task list. I believe goal sheets are very similar to road maps. Road maps tell us how to get where we need to go. If we’re on familiar roads, our map can be very simple. If we are on unfamiliar roads, we need a more detailed map.
5. A phone. It’s near impossible to run a business without a phone. I have both a home phone and a cell phone. I also have a calling card for my home phone. At one time I had a separate line for my business. Today, with calling card rates so low, I just use a calling card on my home phone. I know that calls made on the calling card are charged to the business.
My own work space also includes a bottle of water and my computer. I believe that with the above tools, you’ll be ready to make the most of each day as it comes to you.
Audrey Okaneko has been working at home since 1983. She can be reached at email@example.com or visited at www.recipe-barn.com
MT. LAUREL, N.J. — Americans have a lot of stuff. Whether at home or in the office, we often keep papers, clothes and other items we don’t like, need or use. This spring, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) is offering tips on organizing your home and office so you can combat clutter!
Why Get Organized in Spring?
Reap the Benefits of Being Organized
A February 2008 NAPO consumer study found that 55 percent of the respondents would save upwards of 16 minutes to one hour a day if they were more organized. That translates into anywhere from two to 15 days a year being wasted!
“Getting organized is something that people know is beneficial, not just because of the obvious—saving time and money—but it really helps you save so much energy too,” said NAPO President Standolyn Robertson. “I can’t tell you how many people say they feel like a weight was lifted off of them when they finally got organized. They have more energy and feel more positive. Now who couldn’t benefit from that?”
Robertson suggests getting a jump-start on getting organized as days get longer and the weather gets warmer. Spend some time designing the systems you need to keep your home and office in order, and then reward yourself with more time and energy to get together with friends and play with your kids and pets outdoors.
Secrets in the Bedroom….
So, now that you have decided to get started, the question remains … where to begin. NAPO’s recent study found that the top three disorganized rooms in the house, in successive order, are the bedroom, garage and home office/den. For married individuals, the garage was the most unorganized, while unmarried respondents cited the bedroom as the number one spot for clutter.
Here are some tips for organizing these rooms:
Home Office/Den Tips:
Don’t Do It Alone: Consider Hiring a Professional Organizer
If getting organized is something you are serious about, you might want to consider hiring an expert. A professional organizer enhances the lives of clients by designing systems and processes using organizing principles and through transferring organizing skills. Professional organizers help individuals and businesses take control of their surroundings, their time, their paper and their systems for life.
To locate one of NAPO’s professional organizers in your area, you can use NAPO’s free online automated referral network, searchable by ZIP code and organizing specialty at: www.association-office.com/napo/referral/index.cfm.
About NAPO: The premier national association dedicated to the field of organizing, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) is The Organizing Authority®. Formed in 1985 as a not-for-profit professional association, NAPO is dedicated to serving its members through education, networking, industry resources, and promoting the profession to the public. NAPO’s mission is to develop, lead, and promote professional organizers and the organizing industry. For more information, visit www.napo.net.
By Jenna Glatzer
It's easy to get obsessed. Really, it is. With work, with the almighty dollar, with achieving and building your business.
When your office is home, there is no clock to punch, no rush hour drive to get as far away from the madness as possible. No, when you work from home, it's all up to you. You can work as little or as much as you like. Unfortunately, most home-workers fall into the two extremes: those who don't work enough, and those who work too much.
The ones who don't work enough get caught up in the "home" aspect of the home office. Something is always calling them away: a crying baby, the laundry, a trip to the convenience store, a pot on the stove, daytime TV shows. They give in to temptation and never truly put in an honest day's work. Then they come to me and ask how in the world I'm so productive.
It's because I fall into the other extreme category. I’m a full-time writer, and I get caught up in the "office" aspect of the home office. It gets simple to see each minute as a potential dollar, and each day as a new possibility to sell the novel, write the next bestseller, break into the almighty national magazine market.
Know that when you are self-employed, you won't have anyone looming over your desk to keep you on track. Sure, that may sound delicious, but do some real self-assessing: can you handle it?
If no one tells you when and how to work, will you have the discipline necessary to earn a living? Will you ever start your work? Will you ever stop?
When you get hooked into the cycle of never truly leaving office-mode, the point of working from home gets diminished. Sure, you may work in your pajamas, but you wind up putting in more hours than you would have at a day job, and you forget to enjoy the perks of being self-employed.
The single cure for either extreme mode is the same: set goals and meet them. If you're not getting enough work done, set an attainable goal (write a new press release before noon, or make five cold calls before the end of the day), and keep to it, no matter how you have to juggle your life around it. If you're working too much, set that same goal and then STOP. Write those releases, or make those calls, and then get up from that chair, stretch, and do something that doesn't involve work in any manner.
I once read something that has stuck with me (pardon me for not knowing the attribution): At the end of your life, will you regret not putting in more overtime?
As for me, I'll be embarrassed to die until I've achieved a lifestyle with a better balance: One that involves more family and fun time, and less time logged in my computer chair.
Sanity breaks are so important, and if you're going to freelance full-time, you have to set limits. You have to take days off, re-discover your significant other's birthmarks, and just plain enjoy life. Otherwise, why are you working? Remember what it is you’re working toward and why you chose to work at home.
If you're like me, you may work better with a written schedule. On this schedule, write down both your work responsibilities and your "play" responsibilities. Mine sometimes looks like this:
9:00-12:00: Work on new article for XYZ Magazine.
12:00-1:00 Lunch break.
1:00-5:00 Write query and send it to 5 new markets.
5:00-6:00: Cook dinner.
...and so on.
I keep a daily schedule book that has room for me to write down all of my "to do" list each day. If you lose track of time, you may want to set an alarm clock to remind you when it's time to quit, or you may try setting your computer to "defragmentation mode" at a particular time each day (your "quitting time").
Commit to becoming less extreme. Working from home is a wonderful thing... in moderation.
About the Author
JENNA GLATZER is the author of Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer and several other books. Visit her at www.jennaglatzer.com and pick up a free editors' cheat sheet! She is also the editor of www.absolutewrite.com, the most popular online magazine for writers.