On HOME Working

I’ve had a few people on and offline ask me about how they can get into working from home, so here’s a quick spiel.

  1. Depending on what you do, you can either ask your employer to let you telecommute a few days a week or you can start by doing some freelance work from home.
  2. You WILL need to offer a service that you are not only really good at, but know how to make yourself very marketable in. How is your service different or better than anyone else’s? Believe you me, there are plenty of people out there already doing what you think is a very good idea.
  3. You WILL need to develop a website, have a good social media presence, and make sure your LinkedIn profile is stellar.
  4. If you do not like being on a computer, or online, or like social media – then this is not for you. When we were doing Telework classes at my last job, I had a woman tell me she’d love to Telework but hates being on a PC. Huh? Might want to try a home dog-walking business then. 😉
  5. Telework/Virtual Work/Freelancing is not for everyone. It requires structure, discipline, and genuine talent.
  6. Earnings are not consistent, as you may not have work all the time – unless you get set contracts with one or more clients. So it may serve you best as a source of supplemental income.
  7. If you become an Independent Contractor, you WILL need to report your earnings to Uncle Sam. This entails keeping track of your expenses that can be written off. Don’t fret. There are plenty cool apps out there to help with that.
  8. Did I say discipline? I cannot stress this enough. The self-discipline of working at home is often much harder than people think. You WILL be expected to deliver just like any other job. Again, lots of fly apps online to help manage your work. Use them! They make life much easier and make you look smart! 😉
  9. Finally, always prepare a contract for the work you will be doing for a client – no matter how small the job is. It will save you lots of headaches. I promise.

I currently have one part-time client, enrolled in online college full time, and do occasional freelance résumé work.

Worl from home 1

Not always necessarily in this order, here’s how my typical day goes:

Cup A Joe.  Quick exercise routine.  Check in with emails, messages, local news. Start client work. Schoolwork. Throw clothes in wash. Back to PC for more client/schoolwork. Put clothes to dry. Prep dinner. Back to PC for more client/schoolwork. Quick stretch break in between. STOP and take a break to eat lunch. Do the “weather check” with hubby. Do a little cleaning in between, which I also stretch out over the course of the week.

Keep water by your side as you work. And not just for style either — actually drink it! And replenish often. Keep nuts, a fruit, or granola bar nearby too for those munchies. My favorite is those yummy date bars they sell here at the corner shops. They hold me over until lunch or dinner time.

Try to wrap things up by a set time, but sometimes it’s not all done. And sometimes a client will need something at 8 p.m. Be sure to set those limitations on your contract.

I use an e-calendar to manage all the work, school, and social things that need to be done each day. I set small goals and time limits for certain things. I need to have Facebook up because I monitor my client’s social media account, but when I really need to focus and am feeling extra distracted, I turn off all social media and devices.  Facebook is the WORST distractor, so turn it off if not needed. The 2nd worse one is family. Kids and parents think because you are working from home, it’s all fun and games.

On the days I worked from home on St. Croix, my mom would come over frequently to chit-chat. I was like “Mami, estoy trabajando”.  She’d give me this look that said “You don’t look like you’re working, you’re sitting at home.”   For our elder parents, the concept of working from home is hard for them to grasp. And as common as working from home is now, you still get sarcastic remarks from friends, implying that this is not “real work”.

Work from home 3

You must create boundaries and a clear, established work environment so you can get done what you need to get done. Politely tell mom you’ll have to talk on your lunch break. If you have kids, wait until they leave to start your work.

I also rarely take personal calls during the day. I set busy messages on my devices, but they are often ignored by those friends who think I’m just lollygagging – so I’ve resorted to just turning off the ringer when I need to focus, taking an exam, or on a Skype call. Another tip: Always be sure to have no background noise. Clients should not be hearing kids and dogs in the background.

Work from home 2

And finally, if you are really in a pickle, outsource some of your work just to get you through any hurdles. Your client does not have to know. All they want is for the project to be completed, be of good quality, and delivered on time. 😉

Check out these great tips on maintaining your business etiquette while working from home.


Recommended reading:

“Work At Home Now” by Christine Durst

“The Two Second Commute” by Christine Durst.

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