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 September 20th, 2018

What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room

What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room

It’s wonderful when you can spare a room for your home office, but it might have a secondary function a few times a year. It’s a guest room as well. Your private workspace becomes a place for your guests to sleep. You’re out of your perfectly set up workspace. What can you do when your home office is the guest room?

There are a lot of things you can do when your home office is the guest room to ensure that the space is comfortable for both uses. Some relate to how you use the space when guests are there, while others are all about the setup of the room in general. Make sure your home office setup allows you to be productive and comfortable.

Consider what will happen to your home office when guests are there. Are you moving out or sharing the space? This will help you figure out how best to set up and organize your home office.

Have Guest-Friendly Furniture

You want your guests to feel comfortable when they stay with you, and that means putting some thought into your guest furniture. How do you combine that with the needs of your home office?

You have a few options.

I chose to put a queen size futon in my home office. This way we have both seating and a bed as needed for guests. It doesn’t take a lot of space and is comfortable enough. I’ve slept there when my husband has been sick enough that I wanted to avoid the germs. I store bedding beneath it.

A daybed is another alternative. The disadvantage is that it’s more narrow, which may be uncomfortable for most adults, and won’t work at all for couples.

A Murphy bed is a more expensive option but puts the bed even more out of the way. That can be a huge advantage. The disadvantage is that you have to remember how much space it takes when setting up all the rest of the furniture unless you want to move things around every time the bed is used.

home office brown

Keep Your Home Office Organized

You don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning before company arrives when your home office is the guest room. This makes keeping your home office organized very important.

Let’s start with the paper shredder. Have an easy way to get rid of that paper clutter before it gets bad. You know it will. An easily accessible shredder improves the chances that you will stay ahead of the mess.

Figure out what kind of organization system will work for you. My home office has a lot of built-in drawers and cabinets, and I take advantage of those quite extensively. If you don’t have this kind of advantage, there are a lot of organization supplies you can buy which will help you keep the clutter under control.

Try to keep your cables organized where possible. Securing them to the underside or back of your desk will give your home office a cleaner look when guests are over. It also keeps them out of your way.

Your organization supplies can be used to give your home office character as well. A cork board can be used to keep up important reminders and to display family photos or artwork.

A rolling cart to hold your supplies can be a big help if you want to get a lot of your office supplies out of the room when guests are over. The more mobile your supplies are, the less effort it will take to move them when company comes over.

You may also want a rolling desk for when your home office is the guest room. This can be the most effective way to move your computer set up with the least fuss.

Whatever you do, make sure your home office is comfortable for you. That’s the first purpose of the room, after all. If it doesn’t work for you, figure out how to make things better.

Consider Taking Time Off When Guests Arrive

When you have company, it may already be your plan to take the time off or at least work fewer hours. If your work is flexible enough and you can afford the financial hit or have paid vacation time, this may be your choice.

Taking time off won’t work for everyone. No one expects to always have the day off when company comes over when you work outside the home, so don’t assume you have to do so when you work at home. It’s nice when you can afford it and it fits into your work schedule, but it’s not always possible.

home office white

Explain To Guests That You Will Need The Room During Work Hours

Sometimes you may need to keep using your home office as an office even when you have company. This is something you should discuss with guests before they arrive so that they understand that you will need to use their room during the day.

Obviously, you cannot use your home office while your guests are sleeping. This won’t work if you work at night.

But if your work hours are during the day, you may be able to continue working as usual. Explain to your guests that they need to treat you as though you are away at work even though you’re just a room away. It’s what you’d have to do if you had a job outside the home, after all.

Show them the space that you will need to have left alone so that you can work. You don’t want their luggage on your desk or office chair, for example, when you want to start working. Point out things that should not be disturbed.

It may help to have a dresser or other furniture in your home office that is specifically for guests to use. Some space in the closet may help as well. Guests are more likely to respect your space if they have a spot that is clearly for their use.

Set Up A Temporary Office Elsewhere

If your work setup is something you can move, you can work in a different space. This will probably be one of those less than ideal places such as your bedroom. This may be your only choice if you need to work night hours or otherwise cannot use your office space due to your guests.

Just as with your regular home office, do your best to make it a distraction-free environment. The kitchen table isn’t ideal for this reason. You don’t want to be in the middle of everything that’s happening in your home while you have company; you want to be a little away from it so you can be productive.

A rolling desk can be a huge help if you have to move your home office space around. Not only can it be put into a corner of your office when more space is needed, but you can also move it into another room with relative ease.

home office blue

Be Ready For Challenges

Whatever your solution may be, discuss it with your guests before they arrive so that they’re prepared to deal with the reality of you working at home. Many people have trouble understanding that working at home is just like working any other job. Make sure they know that they need to let you work.

If guests need a lot of reminders, try to have another family member help keep them away as you work. You do not want to get in trouble with your job if you can’t keep a quiet work environment due to guests. If that’s a need, be very clear about why you need quiet and why there are no exceptions, not even to tell you they’re headed out to do something for the day.

Of course, if you can be interrupted, tell them that too, and tell them how much or when. Let them know if too many interruptions will lengthen your work day or give you other problems.

Hopefully, you will have enough time off work that you can enjoy your guests. Make sure your needs and their expectations are discussed in advance so that you don’t have a lot of problems when your guests are in your 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 January 16th, 2018

How Do You Get Started Working From Home?

How Do You Get Started Working from Home?

I get a lot of people asking me how to get started working from home. They know they want to work at home, but have no clue where or how to start looking, even after finding this site. Sometimes they don’t have the foggiest notion of what kind of work they want to do from home.

Saying that you want to get started working from home is really vague. People who ask that and give no further information can be difficult to help sometimes. They have no idea what they want to do and expect me to come up with the right job without knowing anything about their skills or interests.

When I have very little information, I usually give very basic answers. Sometimes that’s all that is needed anyhow. If you’re wondering where the work at home job leads are, take a look at the Work at Home Jobs section of this website.

Ah, but that’s not terribly helpful to those who really don’t know what they want to do. How do you get to the point where you can start looking for a particular work at home job?

Look At Your Expectations Before You Get Started Working From Home

Despite the myths, working at home isn’t easy. So many people just want to be pointed in the right direction and have it handed to them, and that’s just not going to happen. When you want something in life you can’t sit around waiting for it to happen. You have to do what it takes to get started working from home.

Expect to have to work at looking for a job. You probably wouldn’t get the first outside the home job you apply for, so why should you expect that for a work at home job?

Don’t assume that you’ll be making big bucks from a work at home job. That’s one of the big reasons people get scammed so easily. Visions of easy money make people lose all common sense. Many work at home jobs don’t pay spectacularly well unless it’s a more in demand and hard to find skill. And most home businesses can take anywhere from months to years to become profitable, IF they ever do… no matter what the hype says.

What Do You Want To Do?

Just as in looking for an outside the home job, it really helps to know what kind of work at home job you’re looking for. What are you qualified for? Do you have any relevant experience?

It’s all well and good to say, “Well, I’d like to do customer service, or maybe data entry or even assemble stuff from home, just so long as I get paid.” That is, if you want to fail.

Don’t be vague. And don’t just think about the classic work at home jobs. There are a lot more possibilities out there.

Software developers work at home. Graphic designers work at home. Medical coders work at home. There are many work at home jobs that require significant education and experience.

Really Look At Your Experience.

It’s extra hard landing a work at home job if you lack experience. There’s rarely any face to face training unless the company has strict location requirements.

Experience always helps. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you’re looking for. Employers love experience. This doesn’t mean you have to have experience before you can work from home, but it’s a help.

You don’t necessarily need the exact job title as the one you’re going for. Some companies get very creative with their job titles. Other jobs have a number of common variations.

Work On Your Resume.

The best work at home resumes are targeted to the individual job, not just a generic resume for a particular field. But you should have one that is generally targeted toward what you’re seeking so that it doesn’t take too long to customize it for each application. You want to target it to each individual employer’s needs.

If you’re considering two or more very distinct types of jobs to do from home, create a resume based around each. A software developer who would also consider working as a technical writer at home will need a different resume for each of those, to emphasize the very different skills those two jobs require.

Work On Your Cover Letter.

You may not always need one, but it’s good to have a cover letter available as a way to introduce yourself when possible. Don’t talk about wanting to work at home for more time with your family and that kind of stuff; it’s not relevant to potential employers, any more than saying you want to work to support your family would be for applying to an outside the home job.

Just as with your resume, have a generic one you can customize as needed.

Put A Salt Shaker On Your Desk.

No, you don’t have to do this literally. But when you’re about to start looking at work at home opportunities, you need to be prepared to take things with a grain of salt and a whole lot of skepticism. Probably go through the entire shaker pretty fast.

Work at home scams outnumber legitimate opportunities by far. I try to keep things clean here, but I can’t promise to get it perfect. And if you’re searching around and about the internet, you’re probably going to run into a lot of scams.

When in doubt, start by reading the job ad carefully. Does it sound too good to be true? That’s a red flag. Does the visible contact information match up with the actual employer? Some scams use a real employer’s name to fool you but have a Gmail or other email address for the contact. Be careful out there.

Start Looking.

With a good notion of the kind of job you’re looking for, it’s time to quit preparing and start looking. You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t take action. This is the most important step to successfully get started working from home.

Don’t pay to apply for a work at home job. Very few legitimate companies charge applicants for a background check – only consider these companies if you really think you’re a good match and can risk the cost of the background check.

Once you’re applying, it can be quite the waiting game. It is not at all uncommon for work at home job hunts to take months, sometimes over a year. I’m not going to promise you an easy time finding a job. Lots of other people probably want the same jobs you do, and you can’t all have them.

It can pay off to apply to some employers every few months. Don’t overdo it or you’ll be an annoyance, but a time can come when sending in a fresh application is the right move.

Finally, if your family is desperate for money, do consider an outside the home job if that’s what you need to keep financially afloat. I see too many people saying they need a work at home job desperately so they can pay their bills. If that’s you, consider finding an outside the home job while you hunt for work at home.

You may have to work at night if you’re married and can’t afford childcare. You may have to find a friend to trade childcare with if you don’t have any way to pay for childcare and no one else to help you.

If you need income be realistic about it and remember that you can find work at home later, without such extreme financial pressure. Desperation means you’re more likely to make stupid mistakes.

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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 August 23rd, 2011

Make the Most of Back to School When You Work at Home

It’s back to school time. My two older kids have been back for a couple of days and I’m still getting used to the routine. In fact, I’m working on a new one, adding in more specific fitness time and fun time for my youngest. Of course, I also want more work time. These hours with fewer kids are something any work at home parent should take advantage of.

Start the Day Well

I’m lucky. My school is walking distance, as in takes less time to walk there than to load the kids, drive there, find a parking space and unload the kids. Like most schools, the first few days are the worst for drop off, with cars parking almost up to my house. Of course we walk.

This is a great time to make sure that my day gets off to a good start. I’m up, out and about. Perfect time to take a longer walk, so I go around the school block, which is about 1.3 miles, almost entirely on a hill. Downhill is pretty easy, but that uphill is on the steep side. Not San Francisco steep, but respectable enough.

I’m alternating this with walking my toddler to the playground. It’s a longer walk total, but with the playground time I get a good break between sections. She loves the time there, as she’s well aware that there’s a playground at the school, and she’s not allowed to use it. Giving her time to play outside while the day isn’t too hot helps tire her a little too.

This is a great way to get the day going if you want to be sure to include exercise in your daily routine. It’s nice to get it done before the day gets hot or you get too involved in work and suddenly realize you forgot to exercise again.

If the weather isn’t right, you can simply play with any kids you still have at home. Give them some attention before you get busy with work.

Plan Your Day

One of the things I do early each day is a bit of marketing work. It may be link building or other very basic marketing activities. Nothing too intense at this point, because I have a toddler who demands attention at random intervals, so I want these times to be work which I can leave and come back to easily.

As my littlest one naps while her siblings are at school, that’s perfect serious work time. Time to work on video marketing, article writing, anything which requires focus and/or quiet.

After the kids get back from school, it’s back to less focused work for me, if I do much at all. There’s homework to be dealt with most days, plus talking about their day, things like that. Things aren’t always terribly productive later in the day for me, up until the kids are in bed, at which point I may choose to work again on things that require more focus, assuming I have the energy.

Your own schedule may well vary from mine. You could get up before the rest of your family because you’re more productive in the early mornings, a thought which makes me (a night owl) shudder. If it works for you, make the most of it.

If all your kids are in school, you probably have a good number of solid work hours, and you should really take advantage of them. Get away from distractions as best you can and get some work done.

I suggest you have at least enough of a schedule to ensure that you do all the things you need to get done every day. If you have a home business, be sure you include some marketing activities every day, for example. If you have a work at home job, see how much you can get done with the kids out of the way.

A to do list or a written out schedule may help. Think about what you need to get done each day and write it down. If you like schedules, estimate the time you’ll need for each and what time you will work on it. Do something so that you’re accountable to yourself at the very least.

Don’t Overdo Activities

Some kids love to be signed up for all sorts of activities, and back to school is a big time to hear about activities to sign up for, clubs to join and so forth. If you have to take your child to a lot of activities, you may be eating into your own work hours or your child’s homework or relaxation time, both important.

Same goes for you, of course. Don’t give yourself more work than you can handle. Work hard, yes. Overwork, no. We all need time to rest and clear our heads.

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 August 19th, 2010

How I’m Adding Homeschooling to My Home Business Routine

It’s about a week and a half until my daughter’s homeschool program officially starts. To be accurate, it’s an independent study course through an online public school. CAVA provides us with a teacher to contact, and classes to attend on Tuesdays so there’s some in person interaction with fellow students and the teacher.

This is going to be a huge impact on my routine. It’s going to be interesting, and that’s why I’ve started the changes now, before things get started.

My goals in changing the routine now aren’t just about me. They’re about getting my daughter into a bit of a school routine before she has to be on it. We’re doing math and a bit of writing, mostly, at this point. Next week I’ll be having her learn how to use the online programs for her homeschool so that we’ll be completely set when attendance starts to matter.

Our day starts just as though she were still attending the local public school. I have to walk my son to kindergarten anyhow, which gets all of us moving bright and early. No point to dawdling the morning away.

I give her some math problems – addition, subtraction, multiplication. Caught her early on not paying attention to the signs on the problems, but now she pays better attention and shows her work, which is really improving her accuracy. Very useful for when she’s doing regular school work.

We’re figuring out how to deal with my youngest, who loves her big sister and wants to be a distraction. My oldest is quite capable of distracting herself from her school work, and really doesn’t need help from her siblings.

I’ve warned my daughter that she owns her homeschool time. If she doesn’t work, she’ll be stuck at her desk until it’s done. I’m still reminding her some that she needs to focus when she starts goofing off, but the goal is for her to manage her time without a lot of nagging from me. I know she can do it.

Besides, often enough I’ll be involved directly enough in the process that she’d better be paying attention.

I also figure on using Sunday evenings to plan out the week ahead. That’s a tip I got from some of the moms on the K12 site, and it makes a lot of sense. Have plans so that I know what I need to be ready for the week ahead.

A big thing is being stricter with myself on the times I have available for work. They need to be more productive. I do some work by my daughter’s side when my youngest is napping, and I’m getting better about grabbing the laptop when the kids are playing together and don’t need me. Can’t sneak off to my desktop… that’s just begging for trouble. Perfect bait for a still breastfeeding toddler to come up, want to nurse, pound on the keyboard and mess with whatever she can reach on the desktop.

She does the same often enough for the laptop, but it takes only a moment to close it and protect whatever I was doing.

I don’t expect to have this all solved before we officially get started; in fact, I don’t expect to have this all solved within the first few months. But I figure I can have things in some sort of order, and work from there.

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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