Everyone seems to want to work from home these days – and why not? Your neighbors set off at dawn, fighting the weather and the traffic. You roll out of bed an hour later, pour yourself a cup of coffee, stroll down the hall and settle in for the day.
Running a home based business is a great life and a terrific way to achieve that illusive work-life balance but before you quit your day job, here are four things you should ask yourself to see if you're ready to work from home.
Are You a Self-Starter?
Let's be honest. Some people work best when they have the automatic accountability of knowing that their boss or co-workers might drop in any moment and ask how that project they're working on is going. When you work from home, especially when you are your own boss, no one is going to notice whether you're working or playing games on your computer.
To work successfully from home, set your schedule and stick to it. Know what your deadlines are and how much time you will need to complete each task so you meet those deadlines. Make sure you are getting enough work done every day or every week to show concrete progress. If you aren't able to motivate yourself to work even when no one is watching, you aren't ready to have a home based business.
Are You a Social Butterfly?
When you work from home, you're working alone and that can either be a welcome relief or sheer torture. Work is part business and part social. Work is where we meet our friends and most of us meet our life partner. If your personality leans toward the introverted, you may welcome the solitude of working from home but if you are a born extrovert, the lack of interaction may affect your job satisfaction.
To counter the loneliness – and network your way into new customers – make sure you seek opportunities for collaboration. Join the local Chamber of Commerce or a service club and volunteer to serve on a committee. Attend networking events and follow-up with everyone you meet.
Are You Easily Distracted?
Home is where the heart is. It's also where the refrigerator is, and the laundry, and the kids, and the dog – wait, what was I saying? To be successful working from home, you need to focus on the task at hand.
Sometimes, other people pull you away from your work. When people find out you work from home, suddenly they have the idea that you are always available – to wait for a repairman, pick up a package, babysit a child – or just sit down for a visit. Sometimes it's hard to convince your spouse, your child or your best friend that you're working when you're working from home.
Toss in that load of laundry, but make five client calls before you move it from the washer to the dryer. Play games with your two year-old, but arrange for a sitter to give you blocks of uninterrupted work time. Take the dog for a walk but set a time limit and return to your project refreshed.
Are You Able to Turn it Off?
When you run a home based business, you have flexibility about when you complete your work and that helps you accommodate the needs of your family. However, when you work from home, it can be tough to stop working at the end of the day. You find yourself sitting down for just a moment to check email and suddenly you look up and it's three hours later.
Set a goal for yourself of what you will accomplish each day. When you have accomplished that, shut the door and walk away. It's harder when your office is in the corner of the living room or the bedroom or at the dining room table but if you can't close the door, pack away your work and tuck it out of sight until morning. Remember, you're working from home to gain work-life balance. Don't give that away by not being able to “turn off.”