Dotcomology by Stone Evans, Joseph Costa - HTML preview

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13. Managing Your Life When You Work From Home


But it wasn’t always like that. It took a lot of effort and a lot of work to get into the position I’m in now. When I first started, it was a bit of a struggle to organize myself. My first website took ages to launch and while the other ones went up quickly. My family went days without seeing me.

Let’s be frank. If you don’t set up your business properly right at the beginning, you’re going to make your life much harder and your income won’t have the chance to really take off.

The problem is that until now, you’ve always thought of your home as a place to relax and the office as a place to focus and work. Now you’re going to have to focus at home and that’s not an easy shift  to make. You need to keep the same rhythm (without stopping to watch your favorite daytime soap!) and the same kind of discipline you had when you had to commute every morning.

The first thing to do is to give yourself an office. I’m not talking about a laptop on the coffee table (although that’s how I got started) or a corner in the library; I mean a proper room with a door you can close and a desk full of goodies: from a computer with high-speed Internet access to a place to put your paper clips. If you don’t have a spare room to start with, then use your bedroom. But if you’re serious, think about finding an office once your business gets up and running.

The next thing you’re going to need is a realistic schedule. This is one of the greatest challenges when you begin working for yourself. At the end of each day, I’d make a list of all the tasks I was going to do the next day. If I got half of them done, I was lucky.

Once you get a feel for how long each task takes you, whether it’s approving a new site design, planning a new marketing program or answering customer’s emails, set yourself a timetable and keep to it. Turn off the radio, shut the office door and get to work! And at the same time, don’t get annoyed if the day ends before your work does.

13.1 Balancing Your Business and Family

Of course, all work and no play would make Stone Evans a dull guy. And it wouldn’t do much for his wife and kids either.

When you have a family as well as a business, time in the office is time away from the family, and its hard to know when to stop. You can easily find yourself in front of the computer at midnight and all weekend too. Sometimes working from home seems to be a double-edged sword. If you spend too much time with your business and not enough time with your family, the most important relationships in your life can suffer. But if you spend too much time with your family and not enough with your business, the success of your business could be in jeopardy; and since your business is likely your main source of income, it’s success can also determine the well-being of your family.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a superhero to make the work/family division work. All it takes is some patience, a little savvy scheduling and a lot of willpower. In fact, if you have the time to read the following tips, then you have the time to do them!

13.2 Know How to Say “No”

Not easy to do, especially when you’re just starting. But if something doesn't fit into your schedule and impedes on another activity you've already planned, just say "no". For example, if a client  calls at six in the evening and pleads with you to have a teleconference with him at seven, but your son's basketball game starts at the same time, you’re allowed to reschedule. Clients and colleagues actually like to work with people who put their family first. And if they don’t, you shouldn’t be doing business with them anyway.

13.3 Take a Day Off from Work at Least Once a Month

How often have you said: “I wish I had my own business! Then I could take a day off whenever I wanted...” Now you can do it! Chances are, for a while you’ll be working more days with your own business than you would when you were employed by someone else. If you don’t take the weekends off from your business, make sure you take at least one day a week for no work and all play. Then, on top of that, schedule a couple of days every month for a mini vacation.

For at least one day, do no work whatsoever and spend all day with your family. That means no computer (unless you’re helping your kids with homework or playing games), no business phone, no fax, no meetings, and no paperwork for one entire day. Have fun! I do.

 13.4 Learn How to Compromise

If you learn how to successfully make deals with your family and clients, you'll see how simple it is to balance your time between both.

Running a home business and a family can be tricky, but getting  frustrated about it does no one any good. It’ll cost you clients and create a frosty atmosphere in the house.

If a client, for example, gives you a week to complete a project, and contacts you two days before the deadline saying she needs it right away, don't let your frustration show. Offer her what you’ve got and tell her you’ll send the rest later. She should be able to meet you halfway. The same is true of your family.

13.5 Maintaining a Positive Attitude Is Good For Business

And the end result of managing your time properly should be fostering the right attitude for business. Here are six ways to build a positive attitude.

1. Be  Committed

It took me a few years to reach the point I’m at now. I could have given up any time before I got here and I had a million different reasons for doing so. But I knew what I wanted and stuck it out. That’s the first key to success.

2. Accept  Challenges

Being your own boss and owner of your own online business can be scary and a bit intimidating. It takes guts to leave a 9 to 5 job and start your own online career. It takes chutzpah to  have a dream and to go for it. You are the one who ultimately determines whether your business succeeds or not.

3.  Be In Control.

Keep your mind focused on important things. Set goals and priorities for what you want to do and accomplish. Develop a strategy for dealing with potential problems and when those problems surface, feel confident in your ability to handle them.

4.  Don’t Be Too Critical

There is no use criticizing yourself once you’ve made a mistake. Saying “I should have landed that account or handled that situation differently” is not going to make any difference at all. It’s just going to drain you of your energy and discourage you. Simply learn from your mistakes and move on.

5.  Practice Makes Perfect

Stop worrying about getting everything right. It’s not going to happen. Just keep striving to do your best and everything will work out fine. If not on the first try, keep going until it does.

6. Ask  for  Help

You want to work for yourself not by yourself. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Don’t think you’re incompetent simply because you can’t do it all. Professionals hire  other professionals to do the job properly. Don’t be afraid to bring in a specialist when you need it.

If I have to warn you that there’s nothing more important than getting the work/family balance right, then the chances are you’re going to learn the hard way. I got into this occupation for the money, but there’s no question that the greatest benefit my online business has given me is the extra free time I have to spend with my family. I’m sure if I put that time into building more websites or creating more products, I’d make more money. But there’s more to life than money.