Whether it’s an option your workplace has offered you, deciding to go freelance or taking your side hustle to the next level, there’s a lot to be considered before deciding to work from home. For me, it was a choice that took me months to deliberate over. You may go through a similar set of discussions with yourself, fears or questioning your choices. My experience of deciding to leave a secure, full-time job for a depth of unknown was tough but it has inspired me to write this in the hopes I can help someone else going through the same thing.
It’s not easy, you have to be disciplined and you can’t expect that it will work out. Be prepared for the idea that you may need to exercise your contingency plan. For me, this was to apply for contracts in software development. Although this was a different field to my previous job, it was the field I had the best qualifications for and the most experience. Understand your limitations when creating a contingency. For me, this was knowing that I couldn’t just pick up where I left off on my previous career path as a beauty buyer.
I wanted to get the “plan B” talk out of the way first because this is going to be a positive read. I want you to get excited about the prospect of changing up your environment and enveloping yourself into work that you enjoy doing.
I’ve always been more of a saver than a spender but it’s important to save well in advance so you have a buffer in case you go through a slow start or need to spend a little money to set yourself up. Personally, I didn’t have many overheads but having some savings felt like a good security blanket so I wasn’t worrying about pennies every time I stepped outside.
If you’re not working on behalf of a sole employer then it’s important to understand the accounting side of things. Especially if you can’t factor in the cost of having an accountant in the beginning. Creating invoices, chasing payments and keeping track of expenses all need to be on that to do list. Be sure to get your head around taxes, VAT and all that wonderful stuff ahead of time so you’re not stressing out at the last minute to submit your accounts.
TIP: Create a simple spreadsheet to list all of your outgoing and incoming payments under categories such as (rent, utilities, equipment, travel etc.). Alongside this, have a folder with all of your receipts.
TIP: Make sure you factor in any equipment you will need, additional software, stationery or perhaps a desk.
WHERE WILL YOU SET UP SHOP?
Your workspace is important and ideally you need it to be somewhere that is not your bedroom. I tried this for the first three months and it was quite distracting. It left my room in quite the mess of paper and post-it notes and I was going to sleep and working within spaces that were inches away from each other. There was a time where I’d actually wake up in the middle of the night and open my laptop to write or code something quickly which is ridiculous. Even the kitchen table is better than working in your bedroom. Somewhere with daylight is always a bonus and once in a while you can treat yourself to a coffee shop work space if that takes your fancy.
One of the advantages here is that you don’t necessarily have to conform to a standard 9-5. It also means that you don’t need to stick to Monday-Friday either. As awesome as this flexibility is, make a decision on the structure of your working week. Don’t let things slide to a point where you’re starting work at midday but then answering emails at 1am.
At the moment, my working weeks are capped at 5 hours a day, 7 days a week. I enjoy working a little every single day but I know that a daily 5 hours of coding is more than enough for me. This then gives me time to work on my blog, come up with new ideas and work on the creative side of my business.
Then there’s the question of holidays. There’s unlikely to be anyone you can delegate your tasks to if you decide to book a week away. With this being the case, creating an “out of office” and jetting off won’t work either. You will have to plan in advance. Make sure to plan your work load leading up to your holiday and for a week afterwards. This allows you to ease back into things.
TIP: Have a cut-off point for work to avoid burnout (mine is 8pm). Also, use your new found flexible working hours to take longer breaks for lunch or exercise when you want to.
How are you going to ensure that you stick to your work routine? This isn’t just about ensuring you don’t miss deadlines and actually get work done. It’s also important to be aware of overworking. Allow yourself the moment to decide when your “working day” has ended. Don’t feel guilty to give yourself breaks. You’re still allowed down time.
TIP: Once you’ve decided your total daily working hours, you can plan work into the week based on these times and it gives you a rough but clear path on where you are at with your goals and a progress tracker. From here, you can create self-imposed deadlines before realistic deadlines which helps keep you on track and leaves room for solving any issues long the way.
If you’re by yourself and not on phone/conference calls or in meetings then it gets lonely or eerily quiet. I have my cats and people I live with but that can be distracting. If you live alone or are alone during the day try a good playlist. Something energising but not distracting. Or a change of scenery so you don’t feel distant from the world. If there’s one thing I miss from office life, it’s the social interaction and chatting with people I consider friends.
Take stock on a weekly basis of your personal wellbeing as well as your work progress. Are you pushing yourself too hard or not enough? It’s important to be honest with yourself on all fronts. Being your own boss is hard work. You make the decisions and deal with all the consequences. However, it’s also incredibly rewarding to see your hard work pay off. I’ve just entered my 6th month of working from home. It all started with an idea and is now so much more than that. I have a launch date on the horizon for my online service that I can’t wait to share with the world. Most importantly, it’s the feeling of waking up each morning loving the path you’re walking down.
Image via: Pixabay