Working from home: Are you suited?

Are you self-motivated and happy to work on your own?

Working from home is a delight for hundreds of thousands of people but it is not for everyone. If you are considering setting up for yourself at home, think hard about why you are doing it and whether you are the right sort of person to cope.

Work and home life can never be separated totally and this is even more exaggerated for those who work from home. The emotional side of running your own business should not be under-estimated. A few of the problems are explored below.

Self-motivation

Imagine – a warm, sunny day, no deadlines and a day to fill. For those with office jobs, there is no debate. Come rain or shine they must make their way to the office for the obligatory seven or eight hours.

It is slightly different for homeworkers. Without an immediate deadline, it is far too easy to put off what can be done today until tomorrow. The sunny day beckons and, before you know it, you are calling friends and planning a day out.

This is not the way to go. Yes, working from home does allow for freedoms not granted to others – after all, that is why we put up with the hassle of dealing with the taxman etc. But self-motivation is crucial.

One way to go is to set aside certain days of the week as work days – regardless of other temptations. Do not book the carpenter to work that day, do not book a hair appointment and definitely do not go to the beach.

Use those days to find work if you do not already have sufficient work booked, catch up on the paperwork or organise your desk.

Those who have strict deadlines to meet might find it easier to plan ahead and to motivate themselves but there will be something that works for everyone. An artist might be able to use the promise of others admiring finished work, while others might use the lure of receiving payment.

It is also very easy to let self-motivation slip. It is said that the beginning of the second year is one of the hardest periods for any startup. The first months are filled with enthusiasm and usually come with the blessing of financial backers.

The beginning of the second year can see the end of the contract that made the move into self-employment worthwhile. It can also see an end to the year’s grace from the bank. This can be a hard time to get through and without self-motivation, almost impossible. It is vital to remember the reasons why you started in the first place and use those to see you through any tough times.

Loneliness and isolation

You are all fired up and ready to go. The order books are brimming and the future looks rosy. So why do you feel so miserable? Why is getting out of bed each day so difficult?

After a career in an office or even after a few years at college, home can become a very lonely place. Staring at the same four walls without relief can be wearing on the strongest of people but add in a few other problems and working at home can turn into a nightmare.

As with self-motivation, dealing with loneliness and isolation is very much an individual issue and something that only you can learn to cope with in your unique way. But it is something to bear in mind when starting out. Think about your lifestyle before the business launch. Is this something you want to maintain?

If you need that constant human contact, factor it into your working day – a mid-morning chat with the postman or courier is hardly likely to bring total relief but calling in to see a client may make the difference.

Expect a large telephone bill as you call around your regular contacts. Keep in touch with old work colleagues – you never know when they may be able to help pass work your way and it also provides a link with the outside world.

Have someone to talk to at the end of the day and do not be afraid to contact small business organisations for advice. Groups like the Home Business Alliance (tel 0871 474 1015) and the local Business Link office will all be able to put you in touch with someone who can advise you. A problem shared is a problem halved as the old saying goes and helps cut the feeling of isolation.

And keep busy. Problems never seem so bad when you are busy tackling something else and after a day on the phone for business it is a relief to shut the door on the office and find a bit of peace and quiet.

Work and home life can never be separated totally and this is even more exaggerated for those who work from home.

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