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Wellbeing / Working alone

Survival tips for working from home

No-one is more in need of survival tips than those working from home. When the time comes for you to start out on your own, you feel excited and frightened at the same time. You're inspired, though, by other self employed people.

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They’ve taken the plunge and quite frankly it didn’t look that hard. But what you see on the surface is quite different to what is actually going on in that person’s mind.

Take me for instance. I’ve been working as a soloist for 16 years. Day in and day out I make my living working from home. Yes, I have clients, friends and family but most of my working day, I’m on my own.

And that’s what often gets to a new self employee, or ‘soloist.’

When you were in an office environment you could bounce things off other people. If you were feeling a little down, someone would always be there to pick you up, crack a joke and you didn’t feel so bad.

But when you’re a soloist, there’s just you, so you have to be the best you can.

My next-door neighbours had seen me working from my home office and tried it themselves. She opened a secretarial service and he took a real estate course. Sadly, both of their solo attempts lasted less than six months. They were well qualified for their chosen endeavours, but they lacked self-motivation, discipline and the vision to succeed.

"Always look as good as you can, in a way that fits your circumstances. It will make all the difference to how you feel."

There are a few things I do every day that I’d like to share with you.

Every morning I dress for the office, smart casual is my theme. I do my hair properly and apply my make-up; just the same as I would if I was going to an office away from my home. It’s so easy to let these things slip.

You can work in your pyjamas, but what if a client arrives unexpectedly, even though you don’t widely publicise your address? It could happen.

Want more articles like this? Check out the working alone section.

Your confidence and professionalism are reduced to nothing. The client is having second thoughts about working with you, and even you have second thoughts about working with you.

A friend said to me some time ago “You only have one chance at making a first impression.” And, I have never forgotten it.

Always look as good as you can, in a way that fits your circumstances. It will make all the difference to how you feel.

Next, the office.

I’m fortunate, my office is big, has a beautiful outlook and I want for nothing, but I’ve been doing this for a long time. When I started out I worked from the smallest bedroom in the house, so I had to be neat and tidy. But that’s the secret. Always keep your office and especially your desk neat and tidy and only have one job at a time on your desk.

Every evening when you finish work, tidy your desk and put away the things you don’t need. Then write a to-do list for the next day. This is the best tip to always getting your work done and having time for your own interests.

Try to keep the list to three to five things you would like to achieve that day. Make the comment concrete; “I’m going to make a new contact today”… Not “I’d like to make a new contact today.” Can you see the difference? If you’re positive, you have a better chance of making it happen.

There’s nothing like walking into your office and the desk is clear and ready for the day.

These simple things work for me.

Being a soloist is the best., although it’s not necessarily easy.

Barb Clews

is a skilled copywriter and editor. She writes in plain language and believes material for print and the web should be clear, concise and user-friendly.

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