Kristen’s Work At Home Survival Guide
Today’s Brew: Iced Blueberry, because the humidity is at least one hundred and fifteen percent.
Working at Home. It’s the new American Dream. Rolling out of bed, drinking all the coffee, answering calls and sending emails in your pajamas. Making your own hours, and not answering to anyone. Everyone I talk to thinks their lives would improve infinitely if they were able to do this. I’ve been doing it for eight and half years now, running my own makeup business, and now I’m starting all over again with writing. If you’re published or looking to be published, congratulations, you are a small business owner, even more so if you’re indie publishing.
Sure, I’m my own boss. But working for myself I’ve never less been my own boss. A lot of people want to strike out on their own as a way to stick it to The Man, but the reality of life is The Man has money. Even if extreme wealth isn’t your end goal, I can guarantee survival is. You need to build a clientele, or a readership, and your schedule is very likely going to reflect the needs of whoever you are working to attract. At first, because things like food and a place to live are sexy, you’re going to be working around the job that provides those things for you.
Here are my tips for keeping yourself sane and productive on your own schedule:
- Take care of yourself. The difference between “OMG I don’t have to wear PANTS!” and “OMG my armpits smell like that?” is approximately twenty four hours, not that I’d know for sure, of course. If you’re not seeing clients on a regular basis, it is easy to slip into extreme personal laziness. Why does this even matter? Because when you feel gross, you’re not going to do your best work. Some people suggest getting dressed in regular clothes every day that you’re working from home, but I won’t go that far. Just take a frigging shower. And stay out of the kitchen. Eventually, you’re going to have to wear pants again, and it would be nice if they still fit.
- Set a schedule. This might be easier said than done. As a freelancer, I have to be available all the time. Jobs come in last minute. I’ll get text messages or phone calls about work, and if I’m not the first one to answer, I might not get the job. But there are things I can control. If it’s not urgent, it can wait. Between the two jobs, I will start days I’m not on location by doing makeup work first, answering emails, sending invoices, and taking care of my kit. I like to take a break between switching gears to writing. Sometimes that means doing things around the house, getting out of the house, or my absolute favorite, taking a nap. My boss lets me sleep on the job. Once I go into writing mode, I’m not doing makeup stuff, and vice versa.
- Hold yourself accountable. If you work for yourself, no one cares if you don’t get things done. I hate doing bookkeeping, and I will push it off until it’s this big nasty chore. If I keep it manageable, it doesn’t suck so much. I could write every day, or I could wait for my muse to show up. The time is going to pass whether I’m productive or not. But–
- Take time for yourself. When you’re chasing your dream job, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in it that you don’t do anything else. First of all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Secondly, you will burn out. This one goes hand in hand with making a schedule. You should be either on or off. But—
- Learn to say no. You know those “what everyone thinks I do” memes, well when you work at home, everyone thinks you do nothing all day. It doesn’t matter if you’re pulling in six figures. You’re home, which means you are available. To them. Not so fast. Sure, the occasional lunch is fun (take time for yourself), but when it includes two martinis, and a trip to the mall, you’re not taking yourself seriously, and no one else will, either. As a second piece to this, you don’ t have to say yes to every work opportunity that comes your way, either. Not everything is going to move your business forward. But–
- Take chances. You’re doing this because you want better for yourself than other people you can give you, right? Well, then you need to seek new opportunities and find new ways to solve old problems. Do what’s right for you, and don’t worry what other people, as long as your work is getting done.
- Stay organized. A dedicated office might be a pipe dream. I have an office, but it’s also my guest room, and my storage room. Julie’s office is a table in the living room. Make sure your work space works for you. Receipts are the bane of my existence, and I don’t always have the chance to record them, or file invoices until I have a bookkeeping day. You know how I feel about those. File folders and manila are my friend. I can keep everything in one place until I can get to it, and I can also find it when I need it. Just like the shower thing, you’re not going to do your best work in clutter.
- Enjoy what you do. Dude, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. If you don’t like what you’re doing, find what makes you happy. And do that instead.