Last Updated November 15th, 2018

40 Home Business Gift Ideas For Entrepreneurs

40 Home Business Gift Ideas For Entrepreneurs

Birthdays and holidays are a great time to get others to help you improve your home business. It’s hard to know what to ask for sometimes, but even harder for others to know what gifts you want if you don’t ask. I’ve gathered some ideas to help you build up a list of home business gift ideas.

Education

Udemy – Udemy has a lot of online courses that could be very useful to anyone running a home business. You could learn to develop apps, improve your social media or writing skills, learn about digital marketing and more. The courses are reviewed by students, so you can see which are likely to be worth your time and money.

Conference Tickets – If there’s a conference coming up in your industry, wouldn’t you love someone to get you tickets? They’re a great way to catch up on what’s happening in your industry and make new connections. Events such as Affiliate Summit, BlogHer, Social Media Marketing World and more can make a huge difference to a home business owner who is looking for ways to take their business to the next level.

Books – Get on Amazon and find books related to your industry that you’d like to read. Add all of them to your wish list. Here are some selections to get you started.

The key to picking a great book to gift to an entrepreneur is to know what they’re struggling with or want to learn. If they’ve told you that they’re having trouble getting results from their social media, for example, a carefully chosen book in that area may be welcome.

Remember that some things change fast in business. A book on online marketing that is a few years old may be badly out of date, while one on motivation is still relevant.

Equipment

Microphone – If you have ever considered starting a podcast or posting videos, a good quality microphone would be a great investment. The Blue Yeti is a popular choice, but there are many to choose from.

One option to consider is whether a desktop microphone will be preferred to something that can be clipped on. This depends, in part, on where the person you’re shopping for works. If they’re at a desk all the time, a desktop microphone should work wonderfully. Some people, however, prefer the mobility of a clip-on microphone, especially when making videos.

microphone gift

Camera – How good is your camera? The ones in smartphones are pretty impressive these days, but if you want to get serious about high quality photography on your website, a better camera may be in order.

Consider whether they’re likely to use the camera to make videos as well. A camera that takes high definition video and can take sound input from a microphone will be a big help in that case.

Second Computer Monitor – I love having two monitors in my home office. My setup isn’t ideal, as one is attached to my laptop, but I’ve still noticed how much it helps to have a second computer monitor at times. The most useful setup is usually to have them side by side, which doesn’t work with keeping my hands at a good level with my laptop. Even with that disadvantage, having two screens is worthwhile so that you don’t have so much clicking back and forth to see different pages.

Tablet Computer – A tablet computer such as an iPad Pro can be very useful if you want to work on the go. It’s so much easier to carry around than a laptop.

Make sure you know which operating system the person you’re shopping for is comfortable with. Someone who has Apple everything isn’t going to be as happy about the gift of an Android something or other, and vice versa. In many cases, it’s much easier to share apps across devices if they’re all the same OS.

Laptop or Desktop Computer – A new computer can be a wonderful gift if yours is getting old. Something a bit faster and less cranky is always nice.

Performance is always key with computers. You don’t want to give someone a computer that isn’t as good as what they already have. More RAM and more memory are always good, as are faster processors.

Of course, if you’re the more technical sort, you may be able to buy parts to upgrade their old computer. This is cheaper, but not practical unless you know how to put the new part in. It is fun, however, to take an otherwise good computer from “adequate” to “amazing” with just the right new part.

Laptop Cooling Pad – A laptop cooling pad can extend the life of your laptop by ensuring that it is always well cooled, even when you use it on your lap with a blanket.

I bought one of these recently for my laptop when its fan was struggling to cool it. This problem came close to destroying my laptop.

A cooling pad won’t save your laptop if the fan completely dies or if something else goes wrong, but it can drop your laptop’s temperature nicely. Some of the reviewers on Amazon have shared the results of tests they’ve done on various laptop cooling pads, and the results can be significant.

I chose the Havit HV-F2056, which has a lot of great reviews. So far, I’m delighted by it. If you have a laptop, I strongly recommend getting one. Be ready for a cold lap, though.

laptop cooling pad

Smart Speaker – A smart speaker such as Amazon Echo or Google Home will be welcomed by many people. They’re a nice way to play music in your home, and they can answer questions for you. There have been problems here and there, and there can be privacy concerns, but those don’t seem to limit the interest much.

Whiteboard – A whiteboard is good for brainstorming or visualizing goals. It’s an easy way to keep ideas and goals in sight while you work.

This gift idea works best for an entrepreneur with an available workspace. It’s hard to use a whiteboard if it’s not hanging on the wall or otherwise readily available.

Don’t forget a variety of colors for the dry erase markers. It helps a lot if you can color code or sketch things out.

Sit-Stand Desk – I love my sit-stand desk from Autonomous. Appropriate heights can be programmed in, making it easy to change positions throughout the day. They say either sitting or standing all day is bad for you, but changing positions is better. You don’t have to get a full size desk – there are units that simply lift the keyboard and monitor on the desk you already own.

Office Chair – A good, ergonomic office chair is a must for anyone who spends long hours working in a home office. No one wants to be hurting at the end of the day due to a poor quality chair.

Proper back support is essential, as is a comfortable seat. You don’t have to get an office chair with a headrest unless that’s a preference. Most people don’t spend that much of their workday leaning back anyhow.

office chair

UPS Battery Backup – Having a UPS battery backup is a huge help for anyone who uses a desktop computer. There’s no worry about losing all your work if the power goes out. It’s less important with laptops, since they already have batteries.

Backup Drive/Personal Server – Having a backup drive or personal server can be a lifesaver if your computer dies. My husband’s computer inexplicably quit working recently – won’t even boot far enough to turn on the monitor. Fortunately, his hard drive was fine. Also, fortunately, we have a backup drive of our files anyhow. You don’t want to lose all your home business files because your computer goes kaput.

USB Flash DriveThese little drives come in handy so often. They’re great when you need to move data from one computer to another. They come with enough storage now that they can do some good work as backup too.

Alternatively, sign up for an online backup service. These can be very reasonably priced, and their data will be safe even if their home is subject to a disaster.

Portable Charger – I love my portable charger for those days when we’re on the go. It’s not necessarily just for work – they’re great when you go on vacation too. It’s nice not having to worry about running out of charge on my phone or camera while out and about.

Choose a portable charger that carries enough charge for multiple devices. It’s not at all uncommon for an entrepreneur on the go to have several devices with them.

Laptop/Messenger Bag – My laptop bag was one of my favorite gifts several years ago. I still use it any time we travel. It’s so nice having an easy way to carry my laptop.

When gifting a laptop bag, remember that more than a laptop will be in there. That’s why pockets, lots of pockets, is often a good idea. Make sure it’s big enough for their laptop and any necessary accessories.

laptop bag

Noise Cancelling HeadphonesNoise cancelling headphones are great if you have a lot of background noise in your home office. You can get ones that will work with your phone if you have to call people, or just use them to listen to music while you work.

Square Card Reader – Square is great for home business owners who sometimes take credit card transactions in person. Its small size makes it convenient to carry around, plus it can be connected to a mobile phone, so payment processing can take place anywhere they have a data connection.

Moleskine Notebook – For the home business owner who likes to take a lot of written notes, a Moleskine notebook is a great choice. They’re attractive and functional. You can step it up a little with a Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook. It allows you to digitize your notes, which can be a huge help when ideas really get going.

Fitness

Basic Exercise Equipment – Some basic exercise equipment to be kept in your home office makes it easier to get a quick workout in during the workday. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Some hand weights are a good start.

The one big catch with giving any exercise equipment is making sure it’s welcome. You don’t want someone to feel that there’s a hidden message in the gift.

fitness gifts

Exercise Ball – An exercise ball is great for core exercises. It’s also useful as an office chair.

Treadmill Desk – For those who are more ambitious, a treadmill desk may sound like a good plan. It may be more difficult to type while using one for some people. If you can make it work for you, it’s a great way to keep moving while you work.

Gym Membership – Not only will a gym membership help them get fit, it gives an excuse to get out of the house more often.

Activity Tracker – It’s far too easy to be sedentary with many home businesses. A good activity tracker can be that little bit of encouragement needed to get up and move.

Decor

Posters or Art Prints – It’s their home office – it doesn’t have to be plain. The kind of posters or other wall decor depends on what you like and how professional your office needs to look. If you have clients come in, you have to consider them. If no one ever comes to your office or sees it on video, it’s all about you!

Fun Stuff – What do they like? My office has dragons, some Harry Potter stuff, Doctor Who stuff, Star Trek stuff… you get the idea. Go to Think Geek if you need ideas.

For The Home

Smart Thermostat – A smart thermostat makes it much easier to control the temperatures in your work environment. You can set up the basic program for what you usually want household temperatures to be, and change if if needed using your smartphone.

Fire Safe – A fire safe is a perfect place to put all your important documents, both for your business and your personal life. You can even keep your backup drive in one. You may never need fire protection for these things, but if you do, there may not be time to think about how to save them at that moment.

Shredder – Having a shredder is a great way to take care of those papers which shouldn’t be thrown directly into the trash. Most are also good enough to shred old credit cards too.

Video Doorbell – A video doorbell, such as Ring, can help you decide whether or not it’s worth it to answer the door during your work hours. The ability to know who’s there is a huge help when you don’t want to be interrupted, but you’re also expecting a package.

Food & Drinks

Stainless Steel Water Bottle – I love my stainless steel water bottle. It’s one of the ways I make it easier to drink water throughout the day. The straw lid I use minimizes the chances for a spill, which is great.

water bottle

Travel Mug – A good travel mug will be loved by anyone who drinks their coffee or other hot drinks on the go. They help prevent spills, which is great for having your coffee in the office too.

Coffee – Some good coffee, or just some gift card to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, will be welcomed by many home business owners. A good source of caffeine is a great help most days. A good coffee maker is also worth considering.

Chocolate – For those who don’t drink coffee (me!) or who just love chocolate (also me!), some good quality chocolate is always a welcome gift. It makes a quick snack while working or taking a break.

Healthy Snacks – Having some healthy snacks available to grab and go is great for those busy days.

Help

Childcare – Whether you offer to take the kids yourself or pay a babysitter, having the kids out from underfoot can be a huge help to the home business owner. This is especially true when kids are small and clingy.

Relaxation

Slippers – Is the floor of your home office ever cold? A nice pair of slippers will help you deal with that in comfort.

Massage Equipment – At the end of the day, a massage will probably always sound good. It’s much easier to get one if you have the right equipment. Alternatively, a gift card to a good local spa would be a great idea.

Big Red ButtonFor those days when you need to pound something in frustration. We all have those days.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 5th, 2018

Your Computer Has Gone Kaput! How Will You Work On Your Blog Now?

Your Computer Has Gone Kaput! How Will You Work On Your Blog Now?

Have you ever thought about what you would do if the main computer or another device you run your blog with went kaput? It’s the setup for a really bad day. It’s much harder to work on your blog when one of the main tools you need fails.

It doesn’t matter whether you rely the most on a computer, tablet, or your smartphone. When the main device you use to run your blog starts going bad, you have a serious problem on your hands.

This is the kind of problem it’s best to prepare for in advance. If you have a plan in place for those times that things go wrong, you’ll lose less working time if you’re prepared for problems. It’s not like you’ll always have warning.

In this case, I’m talking about problems that make your computer completely unusable time. Not problems that you can fix fairly quickly. You should know how to handle those as well.

This is about the problems where you don’t know right away if it’s worth fixing or if you’re better off getting a new machine. The kind of problem where you may be down for days or weeks waiting for a repair.

The kind of problem I’m dealing with as I write this.

quiet home office

How I Work On My Blog Without My Computer

I’m using my backup computer right now. My laptop’s fan has gone bad, leaving the whole computer at risk of overheating and burning out the system. My repair guy said two weeks to get the new fan. So I’m on the spare computer.

I have to admit – I HATE my spare computer. It’s slow, the keyboard is just different enough to be annoying, and the setup overall is just different enough to make working a little more difficult. It’s also shared with the rest of the family, so I have to give it up sometimes. Worst of all, it’s in a common area of the house rather than my nice, quiet home office. All in all, it’s hard to work on.

But it also makes working possible.

I have most of the tools I use installed on this computer as well as my laptop. Some had to be updated when I made the move over, as it has been long enough since their installation to matter.

I use the Chrome browser because it syncs my account with whichever computer I’m using. That’s a huge help.

I also work on Google Drive as much as possible. This way I can use any computer to type up blog drafts and not worry about losing them. Yes, I could just type up drafts in WordPress, but this way I never have to worry about accidentally hitting “Publish” rather than “Save Draft” when a post isn’t done.

Not that I’ve ever done such a thing.

Never.

No way.

Well… you know how these things go. We all make mistakes.

I’ve also moved my office chair over because it’s about 1000x more comfortable than the one at the spare computer. I think I know something I need to get for the family for Christmas.

computer problems

Plan Ahead For Problems

If you want to be ready to deal with technical problems as a blogger, the most important thing you can do is plan ahead. This way you know what you’re going to do when things go wrong.

You don’t have to have a spare computer to keep working, for example, if you have apps set up on your phone or tablet that will allow you to keep working. They may not be as easy to use, but they’re better than nothing. WordPress, for example, has an app available that you can use with your blog. It’s a little different from the usual version, but better than not being able to blog at all.

Keeping as many of your files as possible in the cloud makes it much easier to keep things going when your computer has problems. You don’t have to worry about your files if they’re always backed up somewhere.

If you have multiple computers in your household, make sure that more than one has a setup you can use. Use Chrome or another browser that syncs your account no matter where you sign in. Know which online services can temporarily replace any software that you can’t move to another machine. Many image editing tools are online, so you can still make great blog images easily, regardless of which machine you’re on.

And keep it in the cloud when possible. Keeping most of my files online rather than on my computer has proven to be a huge help many times.

Yes, there are security risks.

But your regular device has security risks too. If your computer gets a virus, your data is at risk. Don’t fool yourself about the risks that you hope to avoid.

Automate When Possible

One of the great things about blogging is that there are a number of things you can automate. Not only does this make your daily routine easier, but it also helps when things go wrong.

I use Hootsuite and Tailwind quite extensively, for example. This way, when I can’t get online, I still have posts going out on my social media. I can handle the social side of things later when my equipment is behaving.

The key is to remember that you can’t automate everything. You can schedule tweets, pins, and so forth, but you can’t be social automatically. Eventually, you’ll have to go in and take a look.

You can also have blog posts scheduled out in advance. How far out depends on how far ahead you can manage to work.

If you can manage to keep a week ahead on your blog posts, for example, that’s a week to deal with problems when they crop up. It’s not a bad idea.

No, I’m not usually a week ahead unless I’m going on vacation. It takes a lot of work to get ahead. But when you can manage it, it’s a huge help.

WordPress makes it super easy to schedule blog posts to go out later. In fact, scheduling is one of the first things I do when working on a post. Usually, it’s for the next morning, but sometimes it’s days away.

help laptop

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Take Time Off

No matter how carefully you plan ahead for problems, sometimes there’s only one thing you can do – take some time off.

If you’re down for a day or two, it’s usually not that big a deal unless you have something planned for those days and you absolutely must get online.

Take advantage. Take some time for yourself or go do something with your family.

Relax.

Do everything you can to avoid taking excessive time off. Sure, your blog will keep getting traffic if you do nothing for a time, but do you really want to leave it alone all that long?

I doubt it.

When my laptop needed its screen replaced, it was gone for most of a month. I was furious about it taking so long, but it was a warranty repair, and I didn’t have a choice of which shop. My next computer won’t come from that same place most likely. If by some chance I do go there, they’ve already lost all chances of selling an extended warranty, even though I used said warranty for that screen replacement. Service simply took too long. I couldn’t take that much time off my blog in good conscience.

If you’re having a repair done under warranty, you may be offered a loaner computer, which can help. Just make sure you’ve wiped all your personal data and signed out of everything before you return it.

But even if you don’t have a way to work the way you normally do, you have options. You may even be able to work on a computer at the library for a few hours if that’s the only way to get things done.

You can also brainstorm, even if you don’t have a computer available.

When my kids were in soccer, that’s what I would do during their practices. I didn’t have a smartphone at the time, so I would sit there with a notebook and brainstorm ideas.

No internet, no computer, but I could still get things set up for later.

These days, if I don’t want to get online when I’m out brainstorming, I can still pull my phone out and type up notes for later. It works more or less the same as writing it out.

shattered

Decide Whether To Repair Or Replace

Just because your computer has a problem doesn’t automatically mean you need to replace it. Often enough, a repair will be enough.

The repair my laptop needs is one I’d be able to handle easily on my own with a desktop computer. Switching out a fan on a desktop computer is easy. I’ve done it before. Loosen a few screws, unplug the fan, put in the new one and attach it, and you’re done.

I looked at what my laptop would need and noped away from that. Laptop parts are much smaller and fussier than I like to deal with. It’s getting a professional repair.

The basic consideration when it comes to repair or replace is cost. How close to the replacement cost of the computer will the repair come?

Too close, and you may as well replace the thing. You’ll probably get an upgrade at the same time.

Replacing has its own problems, of course. You have to move all your data and reinstall all your old software. Sometimes this is difficult because you already used your registration code on the old machine, and the software won’t let you use it over again.

This is why I like knowing how to do basic computer repairs on my own. I can keep my repair costs down while extending the life of my equipment.

Many desktop computer repairs are surprisingly easy, especially if you find a good tutorial for it online. They’re much easier on desktop computers than on laptops, of course. I’m not bold enough to do much work on a laptop computer yet.

Don’t even get me started on smartphone and tablet repair. I’m not remotely ready for that.

But a good repair shop can handle things quickly, professionally and at a good price. If you find the right one, you won’t have to worry about attempting a repair you aren’t comfortable with or replacing equipment for minor failures.

What If You Have A Work At Home Job?

Of course, if you have a work at home job with a required schedule and your computer goes down, it’s time to talk with your employer. Depending on the kind of schedule you have, you may need to notify them of even a brief problem with your internet connectivity.

If you’re going to be out of service for more than a shift or so, do your best to find a way to get back to work.

If your employer provided the equipment and their stuff failed, they will probably be pretty helpful in getting you back to work. But if it’s your own equipment, they will likely expect that you can handle the problem with a minimum of fuss.

Talk to your employer, especially once you know how serious the problem is. Most will be understanding, provided you don’t simply disappear on them for the duration.

Be sure you have access to a contact number or email that doesn’t rely upon your work computer. Phone numbers are best because they don’t rely on you having an internet connection. It’s kind of hard to send an email or start a chat about your internet being out when your internet is, in fact, out. Depending on your location, after all, you may not even have access to your phone’s data plan.

Don’t Overstress About Lost Work Time

I know it’s terribly stressful when you had a schedule all set and a plan in place, and now it’s all in ruins. I’ve been there.

But some problems are out of your control. What matters most is how you handle problems as they come up. If you have a plan in place, it will be much less of a crisis.

Letting stress take over doesn’t help anything. It’s more likely to slow you down.

Instead, focus on what you can do, even if it’s not work related. Lost time can be made up later if necessary.

You’ll be fine.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 29th, 2018

How To Claim Your Work at Home Space

How To Claim Your Work at Home Space

Many people who work at home don’t really have a good space for it. Not all homes have enough room for a separate home office, but having a dedicated work at home space makes a big difference.

I know that it’s easy to feel as though you don’t need a separate space. You may be working in your kitchen or living room and feel that you’re doing just fine.

And maybe you are.

But it’s more likely that you could do better if you had your own work at home space. Somewhere that you won’t be interrupted so often. A place where you have more control over the background noise. And where you can keep all the stuff you need to be productive without someone moving it on you.

Where Will Your Work At Home Space Be?

The first question you need to answer is where your work at home space can be in your home. Depending on your home, this may be easy or difficult to answer.

The best solution is to find a room in your home where you can set up a home office. A place where you can close the door has a lot of advantages when you’re working at home.

Some work at home jobs require this, for example. If you’re on the phone with customers a lot, they want you able to close the door so that you have a quiet place to work. You may also be required to have a door you can close if you have to keep information private for legal reasons.

But not every home has an available space where you can do this. And not every work at home job requires it.

It’s not at all uncommon for a work at home space to be a small desk in whatever nook you can fit it into. While it’s not as private as a room with a door, it can be enough.

And if you can’t manage that, there many people who work at home at the kitchen table or sitting on the couch. Do what you have to do to succeed.

Truth be told, this flexibility is one of the great things about working at home. If your job or business doesn’t require that you stick to one spot, you can work in a lot of different places. You can even head out to the coffee shop or coworking space if that suits your needs.

corner home office

What Are The Basics Your Work At Home Space Needs?

The next thing you need to consider when planning your work at home space is what you need in there. This can vary quite a bit, depending on what kind of work you do at home. Start with the basics. You can upgrade later.

If your business is primarily or entirely online, such as blogging, the main things you need are your computer and desk. If these can be separate from what the rest of the family uses, that’s a big step in the right direction. There are few things more frustrating than having to sort out conflicting priorities that keep you entirely from working.

When you have only one computer in the family and the kids need the computer for their homework, what do you do but give it up? That’s why you need your own if at all possible.

A space to work on your business also makes it easier for you to set rules about when you are working. Even if you aren’t in a separate room you can set rules about what the kids can and cannot bother you with while you work.

The biggest challenge comes in when you can’t claim a separate space directly and you have to set up your home office in a shared area, maybe even a shared computer.

No matter whether you share your workspace or have a quiet home office separate from everything else, you have certain needs in order to work productively. This can include a calendar, reference materials, telephone, writing materials and so forth.

Your computer needs the software that you use in your business. You may also find that a dual monitor setup helps with productivity (seriously, try it if you can, it’s amazing!). These things require space.

laptop home office

Talk To Your Family

When you know which space you want to work in and what you need for it, talk to your family about it. It doesn’t matter how simple your needs are or if you need to claim a full room. Talk to them.

Sometimes they’ll be happy to let you have the space. Other times you’ll meet up with resistance.

It can be hard on a family to give up a portion of the house to be used as a home office. There are always other things the space could be used for.

This is why many home offices are also guest rooms. It’s a good way to compromise on the space. You may still need to talk to guests about your needs during their visit, but you’ll have the room to yourself much of the time.

Even when your family is understanding about your needs, you need to ensure that they will respect what this means. Just because they want you to use the space you need doesn’t guarantee that they truly understand what you will need from them when you work at home.

bedroom home office

Go Beyond The Basics

My work at home space has changed a lot through the years. What I’ve been able to claim has depended on the space we had available and the needs of the family.

When my kids were little, my home office was shared with my family. I had my own computer, and a shared desk (big desk). Much of my work time was with either one of the kids or my husband on the other computer. It made for a bit of a challenge when working.

With this little space I kept a part of the desk and a file cabinet for my work. As I do work entirely online, my needs in terms of space are relatively few.

But the real hardship was having other people underfoot when I wanted to work in peace. Sharing my space meant that I had to claim my space mentally as much as physically. I couldn’t let what the others were doing on the computer distract me overmuch. Playful children didn’t make that easy.

These days, I have a lovely home office with my own desk and a door I can close. Working in there is so much more comfortable and productive. And of course, my kids are older and much better at letting me work most of the time.

Think about the little things you need to keep your workday going smoothly. Throw in a water bottle and for the most part, I’m good to go most days. But other people need more.

Some people like some background noise as they work, for example. I always suggest streaming music rather than turning on a television, simply because music is much easier to ignore. Music can make your day much more pleasant without taking away from your ability to work.

Puzzling out the little details on how you can set up your home office space takes time, but it’s worth the effort. You can increase your productivity and your contentment with your work when your workspace suits your needs. In time, you’ll find exactly what you need to make an amazing home office for yourself.

wood home office

Where Does The Money Come From To Do All This?

If you don’t have a lot of money to spare, it’s difficult to figure out where to get the money to create that perfect work at home space. Not everyone can afford to just go out and buy a new desk or the other things you’d like to have in your home office.

So what do you do?

There are a few options for setting up your home office on a budget.

Option 1: Garage Sales

You might be amazed by how much stuff you can get for your home office at garage sales. I paid $5 for my office chair at a garage sale, and it is by far the best office chair in the house. My husband has tried to claim it a time or two, even though we bought it for my office, but that only gets him the death glare. It’s not happening. Mine!

Pay attention to garage sales in your area, and you can fairly quickly pick up a desk chair, file cabinets and anything else your home office needs without spending a fortune.

You may even find some of the electronics you need, although you have to be very careful that everything still works, and get any computers checked for viruses before doing anything. Used electronics are kind of a gamble, but you can make it work.

Option 2: Build It Over Time

You can also improve your work at home space over time. Start with the basics, and then add to it as your budget allows.

If you have a laptop or tablet you can work on, for example, all you need is a quiet place where you can work undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be in the perfect spot in your home. Look around and figure out what the best space is for you to work.

Work toward having the money for the next thing you’d like for your workspace. It might be a desk, a second monitor, a better place to keep your supplies, whatever it is you need.

Remember the money you spend on your home office is an investment. You may be able to write some or all of it off on your taxes as well. But the key thing here is to buy the things that will make you more productive so that you can earn more money from home.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 24th, 2018

Where Do You Find The Time To Work At Home?

Where Do You Find The Time To Work At Home?

If there’s one thing that’s hard about working at home, it’s finding the time to actually work, especially if you set your own schedule. It’s way too easy to get distracted if you aren’t strict with yourself and truly dedicated to the work you’re doing. Even with that dedication, however, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to work at home.

One of the most effective ways to find time to work at home is to recognize the time that you’re wasting during the day. We all do it, and some downtime is certainly necessary. Working at home successfully, however, requires a different balance.

Deal With Time Wasters

If you take a really good look at your daily routine, you may find some serious time wasters have worked their way in. Be honest with yourself and figure out how you’re going to deal with these so that you can have enough time to work at home.

TV Time

The time you spend watching television is perhaps one of the simplest to limit or give up. It’s not productive, and you may find that there are a number of shows you can give up with minimal regret in order to earn a living from home.

You may not need to cut back on all the time you watch television, but the more you do cut, the more time you can spend on more productive activities.

When you miss your favorite shows, you can always try binge watching from a streaming service when you don’t need to work. Sometimes that’s even more fun than watching them as they come out, because you don’t have to wait for the next episode until you get caught up.

Then again, you have to avoid spoilers, which is difficult if the show is popular.

wasted time

Online Time Wasters

The internet is another place where many of us waste a lot of time. Checking email, forums, and social sites takes more time than it has to. They’re fun and you can tell yourself that you’re being productive when they relate to the work you’re doing.

The key here is to keep things under control. Don’t check your email or favorite sites for hours on end or over and over again throughout the day. Set times and time limits for these things. They’re tools, and used correctly they won’t suck up excessive amounts of your day, but benefit you the way they should.

Checking your business stats can be another time waster. There are times when it’s perfectly appropriate to check your stats throughout the day, but much of the time you can keep a much lighter eye on things. Stats only need to be frequently checked if there’s something you’re looking for in them, such as how a paid campaign is working out.

I don’t mean ignore your stats, of course. You do need to know how things are working for you. Many times you are just fine looking things over once a week or so.

Online research for new posts or product ides can be a danger as well. It’s very easy to get sucked into reading more than you need on a particular topic or get dragged into something unrelated but fascinating. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending on such things when you’re trying to have productive work hours.

Other People

Other people are often huge distractions when you work at home. It takes time to teach people to respect the work hours you need.

Some you can’t help but pay attention to, such as children who need your attention at that instant. You just have to deal with those situations.

Make changes in when your kids can interrupt you age appropriate. If your job doesn’t require quiet, for example, you might set an infant up right next to you. A toddler might have a play area nearby. Then as your kids get older, you can teach them when they can interrupt your work and when to let you be.

People who call you on the phone or drop by for a chat or the spouse who hasn’t learned to respect your work hours may be another matter. You want to be social and pay attention to the important relationships in your life, but you need to have them respect your work hours from home as they would respect your work if you were elsewhere.

time passing

Clutter

Clutter is a time waster in that it slows you down when you can’t find things. Think about how much time you spend looking for something that should be right at hand while you work.

This is why it’s important to have a dedicated home office space. At a minimum, try for a desk that no one else is allowed to touch or put things on. Better is a room with a door, but I know that isn’t possible for everyone.

If necessary, consider a home office that is also a guest room. That’s the compromise I had to make. It works fairly well, as I get the space I need to work most of the time, but we still have a private room when guests sleep over.

Whatever happens, try not to let your home office space be where all the junk goes when you’re cleaning the rest of the house. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a fast cleaning because company’s almost there. Find a better space to put the stuff that just needs to get out of the way. The treadmill, perhaps.

Whatever your work space may be, keep it organized. The easier it is to find the things you need while you work, the less time you waste on looking for stuff.

How To Get Your Time Under Control

If you’re struggling to come up with productive time for working at home, you must come up with a plan to help you. You have some ideas of what’s causing the problem, now comes the time to fix it.

Set Time Limits

For certain activities, set time limits. This is particularly important for things that get your attention for longer than they should, such as social websites. Set a timer if you need to and stop that activity once it goes off.

Some people like to use the Pomodoro Technique when working. This is where you set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a single task. When the timer goes off, take a short break. After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break, 20-30 minutes. Repeat as necessary.

You can change tasks between segments, of course, or if you finish something before the timer goes off. Just make sure that you focus on a single task at a time. Multi-tasking really doesn’t work.

planning schedule

Have A Schedule

Many people find a written schedule of some sort to be extremely helpful. Know what you need to get accomplished each day and about how long you intend to spend on it.

For example, you may need to write a blog post, create graphics, schedule out your social media, interact on social media, and so forth on a given day. Create a schedule for each day that works with what you need to get done and the best times for you to work on it.

A schedule can also help you figure out when the best times are for things such as running errands, doing housework and so forth. Try to schedule these things when you’re less likely to be productive in your work.

Here’s a sample of how you might set things up:

  • 8-8:25 a.m.: Research blog post.
  • 8:30-10:55 a.m.: Write blog post.
  • 11-11:55 a.m.: Continue writing or move on to create graphics, as necessary.
  • Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch
  • 1-1:55 p.m.: Schedule social media and use the remaining time to interact with followers.
  • 2 p.m.: Family time.
  • And so on.

You can further break your schedule up into segments with the Pomodoro Technique or other time management techniques as needed.

The point of creating a schedule is to make it easier to know what you should be doing throughout the day. You don’t have to figure it out in the middle if you’ve planned it out already.

If your schedule is fairly routine, you can make it well in advance and add in changes if necessary. Otherwise, it’s probably most helpful to make it at the end of the day before, when you know what needs to happen next.

set goals

Plan With Your Family

Talk to your family about your work needs. Find ways to fit their needs with your own.

The younger the children are, the less they’ll be able to help you with this, but you can still figure out when you can work while they’re young. Naptimes, after bedtime and any time the kids are in school or elsewhere are good times for you to work.

The main thing you need them to understand is what your work schedule looks like. This is especially important if your work at home schedule is determined by an employer and you can get into trouble for starting late, quitting early or stopping anywhere in the middle.

But it’s still important if you’re self employed and simply need to get things done.

If your family is always interrupting you when you’re working, it’s time for a talk. Explain why you need their cooperation.

You can make finding time to work at home easier on your family by also planning when to spend time with them. Plan outings. Game nights. Whatever it is you like to do as a family. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to be fun.

Do your best to stick to the plans you’ve made with your family just as firmly as you stick to your work schedule. This way, your family sees that you’re serious about working when you need to work, and having fun with them when you said you would.

Make The Most Of The Time You Have

Sometimes, the best time you have available to you to work at home won’t fit into any schedule. It’s up to you to take advantage of these times.

The baby falls asleep for an unexpected nap. The kids get an invitation to play at a friends’ house. The kids are so busy with each other that they don’t need you.

Whatever the reason may be, if you have time for a quick bit of work, take advantage of it.

It doesn’t matter if you know you’re going to be interrupted. There are lots of things you may be able to do with just a few minutes available to you.

Of course, if you have a work at home job and a schedule, you may not be able to take advantage of such times to get things done. That’s okay. Maybe you can take it as time for yourself instead. Alternatively, if you’ve been considering starting a home business, it’s time to investigate the ideas you have a little further.

How Have You Found Time To Work At Home?

Now I’ll throw the question out to you. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? How have you found the time to work at home?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 22nd, 2018

5 Common Work At Home Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

5 Common Work At Home Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Most people make some mistakes when they’re working at home. There’s a learning curve, easier for some than for others. A part of the problem has to do with common misconceptions about working at home. Still, if you’re aware of the more common work at home mistakes, you may be able to avoid them.

You can make these work at home mistakes whether you’re self employed or work for someone else. It doesn’t matter who sets the rules or determines what hours you need to work. What matters is how these mistakes impact the productivity of your work at home day.

work at home childcare

1. Too Little Childcare

Most parents who work at home do so specifically because they don’t want to use childcare. They have visions of working at home and being a good parent at the same time.

The problem is that this doesn’t always work. It works better for some than for others, but most people who work at home have times where they really need someone else watching the kids.

That even goes for me. My best work hours are when my husband can watch the kids, or they’re asleep. It’s hard working when they’re awake and needing my attention. It’s not that I use the phone in my work and need quiet – they’re just distracting.

Be realistic about any childcare needs you may have when you work at home. Make sure you schedule calls or meetings at times when the kids won’t be an issue. You don’t necessarily need to hire someone to care for your child, but you do need to make sure you can appear as professional as necessary.

You may not need to get this perfect. There are circumstances when people will be very understanding if you say you’re a work at home mom or dad. Other times this may not be so. Be very aware of the image you present to your managers, supervisors, and/or clients. It can make a huge difference.

What About When The Kids Are Sick?

It can be extra difficult to work at home when the kids are sick. They may actually need you at times that you’re supposed to be working. What then?

How you deal with this depends on your family’s situation. Don’t assume that just because you’re the work at home parent that you’re the only choice to deal with a sick child. You may not be.

Sure, if your child doesn’t need you all that badly but does need to stay at home for the day, you may be able to keep working as normal. It’s one of the advantages of working at home.

But if a day off work is necessary, think about which parent can afford that. It may not always be the work at home parent. Sometimes you’ll be the one who can’t get off work, and the work outside the home spouse will need to care for the sick child.

cat computer work at home

2. You Allow Yourself Too Many Distractions

You’re home, the TV’s there, you’re online, what distractions will you resist? You may believe that you can work while you watch a favorite show, but can you really? How much will it slow you down? And can you resist when the dog is being so cute?

And then there’s the house.

The house just gets to be a mess sometimes, doesn’t it? Especially if you have kids around. It’s way too easy to take some time out to make your house look a little better when you ought to be earning a living.

Moving a bit of laundry quickly probably isn’t so bad, although folding it may take more time than you ought to give during your workday.

The problem comes in when you do too many household chores at the wrong time. If the laundry needs to be done that day, try to work around it without allowing it to take over what should have been your work hours. It’s your balance to strike – only you know if you can stand the extra wrinkles in the clothes if you don’t fold the laundry right away or if you’ll lose less time overall by folding them immediately.

Limit the distractions, and you’ll be much more productive. Pick the times you allow them wisely.

This can be best handled by creating a work at home schedule for yourself. Set aside times for the things that might otherwise be distractions. You can make a block of time where you can play with the cat, walk the dog, or have fun with the kids.

Some Distractions Are Okay

You don’t have to work in perfect silence if your work doesn’t require it. Appropriate distractions can help.

Many people like to listen to music as they work, for example. They may even find that it helps with productivity.

If there’s an emergency in your home, obviously you want to be distracted from work to deal with that as well. Teach your family when it’s okay to distract you from work and when to leave you alone.

work at home too much

3. Working Too Much

While you want to look professional, there is such a thing as working too much. Work hours are work hours, family or personal time are yours. Give yourself enough hours away from work to recover and enjoy your life.

Don’t forget to take breaks too. 15 minutes to refresh yourself every couple hours can give your productivity a boost. Just because your work at home hours are flexible doesn’t mean you have to work them straight through. That’s a bad idea.

The right amount of work depends on the needs of your job or business and the income you need to earn. Don’t treat yourself worse than you’d allow an employer to treat you. There may be times where you have to work a ton of hours, but don’t do that to yourself all the time.

Starting up a business, it’s not that uncommon to hear of people putting in 12-16 hours a day or even more. They want success that bad. It’s rough, but sometimes it’s what has to be done.

But you can overdo that. Some people burn out from working so many hours. That’s not good for your home business, no matter how badly you need to succeed.

Take at least one day off every week, and preferably two. Spend time doing things other than working. Have fun.

A comfortable home office with a door can help with this. When you’re outside of work hours, close that door and do not go back to work until it’s time. That physical separation between home and work can help in many ways.

The Flip Side

The flip side of this is taking too many breaks.

I don’t just mean the kind of breaks where you walk away from your computer. I also mean when you spend a little time on social media in the middle of your day, or play a game for a few minutes.

How quickly do those things add up?

Think about it. And be smart about your breaks.

work at home professional

4. Not Expecting To Be Treated As A Professional

Many work at home parents feel as though other people don’t treat them as serious professionals. Sometimes it’s that other people can have trouble recognizing that working from home is just as serious as working outside of it – it took my mother-in-law years, but she gets it now. Other times it’s that you don’t appear to take your work hours seriously, so why should others do so?

Be a professional. Don’t be the one everyone turns to when their kids are sick unless your work hours really allow you to do that. Do the favors that you would be able to do if you had an outside the home job, not the ones that take away from your work hours and income.

This includes your family. While you want to be there for them, do your best to keep your work and their needs balanced. As mentioned above, this can include paid childcare.

If it helps you to dress professionally to feel professional, then do it! There’s nothing wrong with dressing professionally even if no one is going to see you. On the other hand, if you can be productive in everyday clothes, that’s fine too. Dress in whatever way makes it easier for you to act the professional you are and be productive.

Are Pajamas A Mistake?

Some people will swear that the ability to work in your pajamas is one of the great things about working from home. Others consider it to be one of the worst work at home mistakes you can make. Which is it?

That depends on you.

Can you be productive in your pajamas?

Will you feel like taking a nap because they’re so comfy?

Will your boss or clients see you in them?

Think about all of the things that could go wrong because you wore your pajamas while working at home? Is any of it significant in your case?

If you can be productive while wearing pajamas and no one will see you, go for it! But if wearing PJs while you work at home will cause you problems, dress a little nicer.

work at home technology

5. You Don’t Take Enough Advantage Of Technology

You work at home. You’re online all the time. How much more advantage could you be taking of modern technology in your work?

Possibly plenty!

Upping your tech game doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. Many of the things you can do to make your work at home time better aren’t difficult at all.

For example, if you don’t have a separate phone number for your home business, it’s easy to get one without having a new phone line installed. Sign up with a VOIP provider, and you’ll have a phone number completely separate from your home phone.

I use Google Voice because it’s free and I rarely need to make or receive calls in my business. If you’ll be making a lot of calls, you may need a better service, but Google Voice suits my needs.

You should also have automatic backups set for your data, especially the important stuff. There are lots of cloud backup companies that will help keep your data safe, even if your home is destroyed in a disaster.

I also suggest keeping a local backup. A 1-2 TB external backup drive doesn’t cost a fortune, and gives you a copy of your data in your home for in case your computer dies. It’s nice to know that you won’t have to download all of your data unless things go really, really wrong.

Can You Be Productive Away From Home?

One of the things people tout about working from home is the ability to get away from home and keep working. Coffee shops and coworking spaces are popular options. But are they right for you?

This depends on the work you do and how well you cope with the possible distractions.

Coffee shops and other such places are potential workspaces because technology makes them so. You bring your laptop and connect to their wifi or your data plan, and work just like you would at home.

Or do you?

If you want to work away from home, be sure that you will keep focused on work, not on socializing. Just because technology makes it possible doesn’t mean you should do it. But if it helps, do it!

Don’t Let Work At Home Mistakes Stop You

If you’ve come to realize that you’re making a lot of mistakes while working at home, don’t feel bad. Most of us make mistakes, especially when learning how to deal with working at home.

What matters is how you deal with your mistakes after making them.

It doesn’t matter if you feel as though you’ve gone through the work at home school of hard knocks or if you’ve had a relatively easy time of it. What matters is that you keep going. You haven’t completely failed until you give up, and even then, you can move onto something else and still succeed.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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