When Your Office
By Jenna Glatzer
It's easy to get
obsessed. Really, it is. With work, with the almighty dollar, with
achieving and building your business.
When your office
is home, there is no clock to punch, no rush hour drive to get as
far away from the madness as possible. No, when you work from home,
it's all up to you. You can work as little or as much as you like.
Unfortunately, most home-workers fall into the two extremes: those
who don't work enough, and those who work too much.
The ones who don't
work enough get caught up in the "home" aspect of the home
office. Something is always calling them away: a crying baby, the
laundry, a trip to the convenience store, a pot on the stove, daytime
TV shows. They give in to temptation and never truly put in an honest
day's work. Then they come to me and ask how in the world I'm so productive.
It's because I fall
into the other extreme category. I’m a full-time writer, and
I get caught up in the "office" aspect of the home office.
It gets simple to see each minute as a potential dollar, and each
day as a new possibility to sell the novel, write the next bestseller,
break into the almighty national magazine market.
Know that when you
are self-employed, you won't have anyone looming over your desk to
keep you on track. Sure, that may sound delicious, but do some real
self-assessing: can you handle it?
If no one tells you
when and how to work, will you have the discipline necessary to earn
a living? Will you ever start your work? Will you ever stop?
When you get hooked
into the cycle of never truly leaving office-mode, the point of working
from home gets diminished. Sure, you may work in your pajamas, but
you wind up putting in more hours than you would have at a day job,
and you forget to enjoy the perks of being self-employed.
The single cure for
either extreme mode is the same: set goals and meet them. If you're
not getting enough work done, set an attainable goal (write a new
press release before noon, or make five cold calls before the end
of the day), and keep to it, no matter how you have to juggle your
life around it. If you're working too much, set that same goal and
then STOP. Write those releases, or make those calls, and then get
up from that chair, stretch, and do something that doesn't involve
work in any manner.
I once read something
that has stuck with me (pardon me for not knowing the attribution):
At the end of your life, will you regret not putting in more overtime?
As for me, I'll be
embarrassed to die until I've achieved a lifestyle with a better balance:
One that involves more family and fun time, and less time logged in
my computer chair.
Sanity breaks are
so important, and if you're going to freelance full-time, you have
to set limits. You have to take days off, re-discover your significant
other's birthmarks, and just plain enjoy life. Otherwise, why are
you working? Remember what it is you’re working toward and why
you chose to work at home.
If you're like me,
you may work better with a written schedule. On this schedule, write
down both your work responsibilities and your "play" responsibilities.
Mine sometimes looks like this:
on new article for XYZ Magazine.
1:00-5:00 Write query and send it to 5 new markets.
5:00-6:00: Cook dinner.
...and so on.
I keep a daily schedule
book that has room for me to write down all of my "to do"
list each day. If you lose track of time, you may want to set an alarm
clock to remind you when it's time to quit, or you may try setting
your computer to "defragmentation mode" at a particular
time each day (your "quitting time").
Commit to becoming
less extreme. Working from home is a wonderful thing... in moderation.
JENNA GLATZER is
the author of Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer and several
other books. Visit her at www.jennaglatzer.com
and pick up a free editors' cheat sheet! She is also the editor of
www.absolutewrite.com, the most popular online magazine for writers.