Beyond the pajamas: How to be good at working from home

Deciding to earn an income from your home takes a lot of courage, but you did it anyway. We applaud you. Now to the next step — learning how to be good at it.

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  • There are a lot of resources for finding stay-at-home jobs, but what about actually being good at this kind of work? Speaking from personal experience, I know that working from home takes a lot of discipline and self-motivation. It´s hard to know where to begin in order to acquire those skills. With these tips, you'll be bringing home the bacon. And I don´t mean just from the grocery store.

  • Find something you love to do

  • You’re probably working from home because your family is your top priority. Nonetheless, they are not your only priority. This is your chance to let something you enjoy become a part of your life again. Your work should be something that is meaningful and fun for you if you expect to stay committed to your money-making venture.

  • For me, that means writing about my normal life in a way helps others make sense of their own normal lives. So what might that be for you? Assess your skills, talents, and interests and go from there. Maybe you make gorgeous quilts or you happen to love filing taxes. Either way, you may be able to find a market for what you offer if you look in the right place.

  • Establish a routine

  • Working from home can be great because so much of your daily routine stays intact. However, your job needs to fit into your routine now too. That generally means starting at the same time every day as well as stopping at a set time. That might be during your child's nap, or in the afternoon hours before you have to start making dinner. Schedule your work hours on your calendar just like any other activity. Having time set aside helps you to be more purposeful and focused about how you spend the rest of the day, too.

  • Don’t become too firmly attached to your routine, though. Remember, one of the best things about working from home is a flexible schedule.

  • Minimize distractions like cell phones and refrigerators

  • Possible distractions abound, each one unique to a particular family or situation. One that is nearly universal, however, is our cell phones. Unless you anticipate receiving business calls on your cell phone, you will probably want to turn it down or put it in another room. Smartphones may be useful, but they are also great tools for procrastination. Instead of getting on to check your e-mail, and then ending up on Facebook for an hour, it’s probably best to just put your phone away. Out of sight, out of mind and back to work.

  • I also recommend packing a lunch. This may sound like a weird bit of advice since the refrigerator is just in the next room. That very accessibility makes snacking, planning dinner and wondering if we’re low on milk a major distraction. Instead, pack a lunch in the morning. Knowing that it’s already taken care of allows you to focus on your work instead of on your stomach. It also helps you to better manage how many calories you consume throughout the day. After all, who wants to put on 10 pounds in the first year you start working from home? Not me!

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  • Make changes when you start to get bored or unmotivated

  • When I began writing from home, I quickly realized that it didn’t matter how excited I was to have a job that used my degree. Sitting at my computer for hours was still boring and I wasn´t getting much done. That's when I started bringing my laptop to the library, to the porch and to my husband’s workplace. The change in scene revived my enthusiasm. It also helped me to realize that I needed to go out and live life in order to write genuine, compelling articles.

  • We produce our best work when we’re cheerful, even if the work itself is a little dull. When possible, turn on music that makes you smile, work at the park while your kids play or brainstorm projects with your mom over the phone. Small changes can make your job feel like a new adventure instead of another boring chore.

  • Deciding to earn an income from your home takes a lot of courage. It’s easy to believe your life isn’t organized enough for this kind of work, or that you just don’t have the self-motivation to actually get it done. But you went for it anyway, and that’s amazing. So do yourself a favor and find something that you actually enjoy doing. Make a routine, and then switch it up when things get dull. Remove as many distractions as you can. Taking these steps means that you get to prove something to yourself. You really do have what it takes to work from home.

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Sara Hagmann is a stay-at-home wife and writer who loves traveling, cooking, and kissing her husband. A lot.

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