It's estimated that 10 to 15 million Americans work from home. Many women, including a great percentage of moms, find the work-from-home opportunity the perfect fit for their lifestyle.
But working from home is hard work, especially with kids in the picture. Whether you're contemplating a work-from-home opportunity or already heading to your in-house office each day, here are ten tips to help make the business adventure a success.
1. Get Everyone in the House on Board
Without family support, your at-home business won't survive. The kids must understand the times when mommy might be home but can't be disturbed. Your spouse must step up to duties you might otherwise assume but can't because of work. Share the household workload.
2. Create an Office or Work Space
Even if you can do your job sitting on the couch with laptop in hand, creating work space is important. Whether it's an actual office with doors and a desk or a corner of the bedroom partitioned by a room divider, you need an area that's off limits to the kids. Another bonus: Office space for an at-home business is tax deductible.
3. Establish a Schedule — But Work When You Can
Establish a base schedule: A set chunk of hours, certain days of the week, etc. where you perform the bulk of your duties. This is especially important if you have clients working traditional business hours at an office.
But embrace the flexibility working from home allows. Are you an earlier riser or night owl? What tasks can you complete late at night when the family's asleep, or in the morning before everyone wakes up? Do quick tasks when the baby's napping.
4. Take Breaks
Just because you're already home doesn't mean you don't deserve a break. Take a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break, long enough to stretch your muscles, do some breathing exercises, or make a quick personal call. Schedule a lunch hour and step away from the computer.
5. Don't Do Laundry During Office Hours
It's so tempting to fold those clothes or unload that dishwasher, but you couldn't do any of that if you were at an office building. Treat your at-home job as you would any other job, avoiding the temptation to do house chores during business hours.
6. Write a Job Description and Keep Track of Goals and Achievements
Write a job description that highlights your duties and responsibilities, and track your goals. Doing so keeps you on target. Additionally, having an updated resume is essential when you're working from home. Writing a job description makes the task simpler.
7. Multitask Wisely and Organize
If juggling multiple duties at once doesn't come naturally, figure out a way to learn this all-important skill. Working from home affords flexibility, but with flexibility comes the need to do multiple duties. Organize your day. Whiteboards and calendars become your new best friends. Also, check out Zoho.com, recently featured on Lifetime Television's The Balancing Act. Zoho has organizational solutions, paperwork, productivity apps, and much more for professionals who work from home.
8. Utilize Pre-School, Child Care, or Sitters
Ah, the joys of taking business calls with a tired toddler at your feet! Don't confuse working from home with being at home. If your budget permits, consider preschool, child care, or other options during daytime hours. You'd do so if your office was downtown instead of downstairs, right?
9. Establish Connections Within the Profession
Join a professional association, attend conferences and seminars, and participate in online forum discussions. Networking and staying in tune with current topics within your industry are critical for your professional development.
10. Get Out of the Office
Remember the idea of taking a break that was mentioned earlier? Make one break long enough to allow you time out of the house. Meet a friend for lunch, go to the gym, walk the dog. Yes, it's your office, but it's also your home. You'll burn out and go stir crazy if you don't find a change of scenery.
Working from home is a great alternative for many women wanting to balance their personal and professional life, as long as family support and the right mindset and tools are in place.