Living the Life We Were Taught to Live
Whether we like to admit it or not many of us are programmed to live a 9 to 5 life. A life in which we wake up at 5:30 am, hop in the shower, pour ourselves a cup of coffee and hit the highway by 6:30 am in hopes that we can punch in by 7:00 am.
Now don’t take me to task on this, I fully understand that some of us work second shift and yet another group is pulling down the night shift, trust me I’ve been there, done that. In fact, I know full well what it is like to become dependent on 10 to 15 hours of overtime and I also know what it is like to be salaried and work 10 to 15 over for a flat rate.
There are a few factors that contribute to the “comfortability” that a 9 – 5 job offers. And these factors are a good place to start when we look to break ourselves from the vicious cycle. It is natural for human beings to seek comfort, to reduce the stress of having to worry about where our next paycheck is coming from. It’s simply human nature.
So let’s take a look at the components of a full time job, that keep us strapped to that desk:
Health Care – Many people are drawn to full time employment with a corporation because of the Health Care and associated benefits. And there is good reason for people to be concerned about Health Insurance. When last I checked, the average premium for an individual was around $450 and the jumps to $1200 when you are talking about a family plan.
Paid Vacation and Holidays – On huge drawback to owning you own business is the lack of paid vacations. Even if your business pays you a weekly salary, you need to ask yourself if a holiday is truly a “paid” vacation, as it is your company’s money that is paying your salary.
Creating a business that provides a “Passive Income” can help to alleviate some of the concern regarding paid days off, because with passive income, you are making money 24 hours / 7 days a week.
Retirement – If I were younger, I would concern myself with establishing a retirement fund of some kind. However, in my situation I created an online business, specifically because my retirement from working for someone else all my life, is not going to be enough.
So to consider your retirement as a reason to be locked into the 9 to 5 lifestyle is simply not valid. You may not get the benefit of matching funds or profit-sharing, but a well managed plan can help solve that issue.
Structure – Some people just need structure. I have run across many people who have started a successful online business, left their day job and then simply could not keep the level of intensity needed to maintain a steady income.
Overwhelmingly the reason has been that distractions kept them from focusing on the task at hand. I will tell you several times throughout this website, that you need to treat this as a business, as your business. If you treat it like a hobby or some passing fancy that has a low priority in your life those are the results you will get.
Breaking the 9 to 5 Bond
Most of us are going to start our “online business careers”, while working a full time job. But that does not preclude us from learning some habits beneficial for being productive while not at the office. You will learn throughout the pages of this website, that productivity and persistence are key to success in the early stages of creating an online business.
Far too many “want-to-be” entrepreneurs, like me, give up within the first year of their journey. Partly because they simply believe that the dream is not achievable or they fail to establish habits that generate success. Working beyond the typical 40-hour work week and being productive in the “home” setting are huge challenges that must be overcome.
Learn the Best Habits for Working at Home Successfully
1. Establish an area specifically for work
A work area should be free from distractions and your home is full of them. So it is best to set up an area and remove all the distractions from that area. Common home distraction include the TV, the bed and household chores like the laundry. I know it seems strange to think of laundry as a distraction but you would not take your laundry to work, so don’t do it while working at home.
2. Set hours and stick to them.
It is best to keep typical work hours, but if you still have a 9 to 5, this might be impossible. Remember the rest of the world is still on day shift schedule, so try to stick to those common hours. It might be tempting to do some grocery shopping while the store is not crowded or go to the gym and have the place all to yourself, but the work needs to come first.
As mentioned, if you still have your day job then you will not need to worry about this, but you should still set some regular hours to work. It will much more difficult, but you do not want to be working until 1am and disrupting your whole life. Working excessively and not getting the proper sleep can lead to “burn out”, another common reason that people quit their pursuit of an online business.
3. Get up, get dressed and go to work.
Learning to effectively working from home is a double edged sword, in that, you will need break your 9 to 5 mentality and you also need to break your “I’m at home, let’s relax” attitude. The best way to get “motivated” when staying home to work is to keep the same routine as if you were headed to the office. Continue to get a shower, get dressed, have some coffee and move to your designated work area.
While it is true that you have worked hard for the freedom of working at home, you are still going to need to get the job done. If you remember, when I cautioned everyone regarding the definition to “Passive Income”, the work does not end when the income starts rolling in. Certainly you should reward yourself for a job well done, but the focus should be on scaling your business to much higher levels. One of my favorite sayings reads “What comes easy, won’t last… What lasts, won’t come easy.” Your goal should not be to replace your current full time income, your goal should be to double or triple your current full time income and that will take some work.
4. Give yourself the proper tools.
Get advise from telecommuters, they are the real professional “stay at home” champions. And one of the more common bits of advise from telecommuters is to give yourself the proper tools for success. For example, get a landline, if you do not have one in your home office area. Make sure you have a good printer and I do mean a really good one. Of course, you are going to need a computer and a rather comfortable office chair. Remember this is your office and you will be spending 4 to 8 hours in that environment, so it should feel like an office.
Now the ride home is going to be a lot shorter, but we are human and humans are programmed to react to our environment. Make sure you have all the office supplies that you might have at a regular job, highlighters, pen, scissors and so on… This will help in two ways, one it feels like work and additionally you will not be tempted to roam about the house looking for a stapler.
5. Set Goals and strictly achieve them.
Be strict about setting goals and once they are set, make every effort to achieve them. Creating task list for each day and work toward checking off each task as you progress through the day. Personally, I like to divide my day into 4 segments and take a short break between each segment. So I will create a task list for each segment and my break will wait until the allotted tasks are completed.
Goal setting is a topic all by itself and trust me we will create a post on goal setting, but until then, remember to set realistic goals. You will achieve a sense of accomplishment when you meet your established goals, but can also get discouraged if you continually fail to meet them. You will learn what you are capable of as you progress through this transition and you should push yourself a little bit each time you set new goals. Then , before you even know it, you will be creating more content, adding more functionality to your website and getting more traffic then ever before.
6. Take short breaks.
Breaks are more important then you might think, particularly when you are writing. I cannot recall the number of people I have worked with, that simply burned themselves out. This is a real concern in the early stages, when you are working two jobs and “burning the midnight oil” to make things happen. There is a fine line, between doing what it take to make your dreams come true and making yourself sick. Do not forget to take care of yourself and occasional breaks are a great way to unplug for a few minutes.
As I said, there is a fine line regarding this topic. Breaks are a good thing, but can easily get distracted during breaks and not get back to work. This is where strict adherence to a schedule can be beneficial. Believe me, I understand that you are work toward a life that is free from restrictions, I get it. But you still need to get the work done and I can tell you that the benefits of living a laptop life style will make themselves known, soon enough.
7. Limit interactions with family or friends.
When I say to limit interactions with family and friends, I am not telling you to lock yourself in a closet. Instead, I’m suggesting that you make friends and family aware that you are working. People who are “not working” very often do not understand that even though you are home, you are still working.
8. Get out of the house when necessary
Working by yourself is a challenge also.
9. Create mini-routines.
Routines can be annoying or tedious, but they provide an easy structure to your day. Create specific routines in your work-from-home days that help you get into the flow of work. For example, in the morning you could read your emails while eating breakfast and spend 15 minutes outlining a task list for the day. If you do this every morning, it will become easier and easier to fall into that habit and seamlessly transition into your work schedule. The same type of routine can be applied to your breaks and midday habits as well.
10. Reward yourself.
When you do a good job, you deserve a reward. Don’t hesitate to make yourself a fresh pot of coffee after overcoming a major hurdle, or to take a long break after finishing that burdensome task. Rewarding yourself appropriately throughout the day gives you positive feedback for your accomplishments and keeps things from getting stale. Your home environment has many more opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment than your office, so use them to your advantage by pursuing them after you’ve done something worthy of reward.
Keep these habits strong in your work routine, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of working from home without sacrificing your productivity or your satisfaction. If you’re just getting started working from home, keep in mind that everybody works differently, and it will take some time to find a structure that works best for you. Stay committed to your goals, and eventually you’ll create a near-perfect system.